The Middle Way

Zen Spot #64 --  Mindfulness, meditation and what I don’t believe about the Buddhist path February 4, 2018 00:05

Against the grain

I am a contrarian. I believe that, if a majority of people agree on something — anything — there is almost always a flaw in the premise of the agreement. Perhaps more precisely, I hold the belief that when science is not involved, humanity tends to reach an incorrect conclusion. Hard data is my guiding principle. 

When a person tells me they believe something simply because they believe it, I run for the hills. Religion in particular. Even Buddhism. I believe in The Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path, The Middle Way and how these three elements translate to living a mindful life. My beliefs end with their complex simplicity.

Purity

I am dirty. The world is dirty. My mind is dirty from a lifetime of exposure to grime; the kind of grime that can never be completely cleaned. There is no starched white shirt of the mind. I rise every morning, go down to the river, beat my clothes against the rocks, carry them home, hang them in the air, then iron them. The work must be done every day. 

I was hoping to do it just once.

Silence

The world is loud. Silence, true silence, is something that happens only in micro-bursts. Often a room or a space or a mat is dedicated to practicing meditation in pursuit of complete silence, but there is always a siren.

Dogma

Rigidity is the bastion of a judged path. It is binary. Life is not binary.

My practice changes often. Observation and adjustment are required. Understanding history, ritual and readings is important but, in my experience, they represent 10% of the equation. Never ignore them and never rely on them.

Complexity

The more simple my life, the more easily I can be mindful. That said, simplifying my life has proven hard, especially when one of life’s greatest gifts is involved — children. Children come before mindfulness and meditation. They shorten the time needed to practice, but enhance the practice by a factor greater than the time missed.

Continue walking.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

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Zen Spot #42— Mindfulness, meditation and the impossible wood cut January 26, 2018 00:05

Woodcut burning

Like a mandala created from brightly colored sand, then ritually dismantled, I burned the wood panel used to create ten woodcut prints, like the one shown above. Shortly thereafter, I burned the prints.

Nothing is left. More accurately, only digital files remain. Nothing of the physical. 

Pyre

I’ve never sold a piece of fine art. Not to be confused with art, I made my living, for a while, as a graphic designer. Fat wallet.

Caught between a desire to sell my personal artwork and the idea of keeping it for my family to burn upon my death, I'm carefully considering the possibilities. Ashes being the only remnant of thousands and thousands of hours of improvised joy and voice. 

The pyre has been designed. Plywood. Iron clamps. Nuts. Bolts. Kerosene.

Where

The warning track in front of the Green Monster at Fenway? Heyward field? The beach in Wildwood? The Arc de Triomphe on the Sunday when the Tour rides into Paris. All places where people can see something burn as art.

My ego is alive and well.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

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Invented by DharmaMechanic
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Zen Spot #67 -- Mindfulness, meditation and the scroll of Kerouac’s soul January 21, 2018 23:08

Kerouac was a Buddhist

I’ve never read On The Road. A rite of passage for most writers and artists, perhaps my ignorance means I am neither. An argument could be made.

Spontaneous prose

When I saw the image above, I thought it was a gimmick. A Dada-ist afterthought trying to create something physical  and valuable for the sake of it being physical and valuable. An artist’s imagination made commercial and fine at the same time. I am not pointing a finger.

Further research revealed that Kerouac actually taped typewriter paper together, top to bottom, into long sheets that could be fed through a typewriter without the interference of changing sheets. True stream of consciousness writing. In the moment. No editing. Probably not stopping to consider choices. Just choosing. Or not choosing. Being nothing, by creating something, without creating a thing.

Perhaps every writer and artist who read On The Road while coming of age held the knowledge I chose to avoid.

The act of creation

There is no bad art or bad writing. There is no failure. Being true to one's inner artist, revealing something profound, or committing to do so, is all that matters. Absolute improvisation can never be imperfect. A voice speaking back to itself, even if no one else is listening, documents both nothingness and somethingness.  Paraphrasing Miles Davis, “Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”

Your creations

I submit that no person can walk the Buddhist path without performing an act of creation, if only because the act of destruction is so much easier. One cannot exist without the other. If improvised, and spontaneous, your work is as valuable as every work by Picasso, Hemingway, Mozart or a kindergartner.

Be mindful.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

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A Perfect Mindful Symbol May 24, 2016 20:18

Inspiration

Nature is not ornamental. Every tree - the sapling and the fallen - offers complete and perfect substance within the Dharma. Grass, dirt, water and rocks comprise an interdependent state that resides within a greater whole that is the air, clouds, sky, wind, sun and rain. Nothing is extraneous. Nothing is ordinary. Nothing needs more color or decoration.

Without explanation, I drew this wheel while dreaming of sitting on a special rock, hanging over a secluded path, winding along a remote stretch of woods near my home. I had recently begun reading an economics book that was a gift from my son. Inside the front cover, the author’s signature is a doodled tree, with bark that resembles the ornamental spokes on this wheel.

Curious and unexplainable inspiration, for which there are thousands of questions and few, if any, answers.

#perfectmindfulsymbol


Zen Spot #4 -- Mindfulness, meditation and weathering out of existence March 5, 2015 10:49

Forgotten or weathered out of existence?

While walking in a neighborhood close to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I found the image above pasted to a brick wall, on a small street, in an abandoned lot. Having forgotten its precise location, it may no longer exist. The elements aren't kind to paper. It's been several years.

The image is intriguing. The offspring of a Soviet-era social poster, an Arabic or Eastern language and a still image from The Wizard of Oz, the poster's design tells several stories. I wish I knew the artist. I wish I knew the language.

Knowing instantly and instinctively that I wanted to forget, I stayed long enough to take a picture with my flip phone. Having a place to visit with my mind's eye was more important than the alternative.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among 600 he has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read more about an individual wheel or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

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Zen Spot #3 -- Mindfulness, meditation and life erupting March 1, 2015 16:02

August in Philadelphia can be brutal

At noon, in direct sunlight, the skin can sear quickly. Squinting, to keep the sweat and glare out of one's eyes, is required. 

Years ago, despite fair skin, I was drawn to long lunchtime walks through Northern Liberties. City blocks full of family rowhomes seem to go on for miles in every direction. Art, taprooms, boutiques and grit are ubiquitous. A round, crunchy dialect pervades. Every five minutes, the elevated subway cuts a rumbling shadow across molten asphalt.

At Front and Mascher, a corner bar plays live music nightly. The venue dives. Next door, a building's shell was boarded over. Chain linked. Chewed to oblivion.

Begging to be made an example, a jigsawed wooden face was screwed into a plywood panel covering one window of the shell. Battered, its cheeks were painted with leftover gloss enamel from the walls of a municipal men's room. Black felt hair and eyebrows. Chiclet smile. Word blurb eyes. Dead lips. 

Begun with the pure intent that drives every artist at the outset of an effort, I loved the face. It was likely pristine for the first four minutes it was hung. After five, graffiti and handbills were stapled and glued like weeds growing between cracks in the sidewalk.

Life erupts. Where life erupts, mindfulness can erupt as well.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among 600 he has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read more about an individual wheel or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

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Invented by DharmaMechanic
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