I have been doing weekly art courses these last few months. They were inspiring and engaging and drew me back to my workshop— back to making. Back to the pursuit of visual representations….and back to the ‘full catastrophe’.
There was childlike joy in mark-making and organising seemingly disparate things. Moments of absorption when time flowed like a lazy river. Followed by disenchantment and doubt. Feeling lost, evaluating, trying, appraising, pushing for solutions and wearing myself out. The hopeful beginning and innocent conviction for an effortless outcome lost along the way. Insistently I had walked down the same familiar track and had become ensnared in the same old traps.
These were the struggles I remembered from before about painting–the familiar flavour of obsessing and dissatisfaction—the familiar flavour of what the Buddha called Dukkha – suffering.
I gave up—not the art course—only the battle. What a relief. I stepped sideways, switched to working on small pieces of inexpensive paper using watery paint only pink and blues and suspended the concern with the end result. I was much more relaxed then and let hand, eye and attention interact without too much interference from will and desire. I felt more peaceful—everything felt more peaceful. By the end of the day I was enveloped in blue—the psyche was swimming in blueness.
The next morning in a Zen book I came across the line ‘In the cave of the blue dragon’. The phrase resonated and being a narrative creature I appropriated it for the picture above. Image and words were now a happy union. But there was more to it. The line was the beginning of this verse:
‘The cave of the blue dragon is ominous
only the fearless dare enter
it is here that the forest of patterns is clearly revealed
it is here that the ripe pearl is hidden.’
I had indeed slipped into the old cave, into the forest of patterns. The verse says that we need to enter the entanglements, for ‘it is here that the forest of patterns is clearly revealed’. This connection to the poem gave meaning to my struggle.
Many years ago, when I was pregnant and living with much uncertainty and fear blue had also come to my aid. I had arrived as part of a vision of the mother. A woman wearing a wide blue mantle, enveloping me and offering shelter. Being held within that blue was immensely comforting.
Weeks have passed and blue dye continues to seep through. Indigo blue, the colour of the night sky, has bled into these blog entries too. It is has been more than a year for my partner living with the fear of cancer–my fears for self and others, pains, hopes, shadows and light. All the myriad mind states that arise in response or in reaction. All merging into the colour blue, descending, immersing, gathering up, bearing up and tolerating what was long excluded and holding the soft pearl and being at peace, again, again, again.
Wishing you a peaceful season enveloped in the depth of being.