The Middle Way

Zen Spot #29 -- Mindfulness, meditation, Jackson Pollock and a Quaker meetinghouse February 25, 2018 00:05

Splatter paintings

The most famous abstract expressionist painter, Jackson Pollock's iconic drip paintings combine chaos with intent . An unusual amalgam. Improvisational jazz is wooed into a free-for-all by the sirens of Japanese calligraphy. And, as much as I like that idea, it doesn’t compare with the photographic capture of the silhouettes of trees against a stormy sky.

Brotherly Love

I am a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded by the Quakers in 1675, the spiritual foundation of my hometown shares the fundamental Buddhist beliefs of non-violence, quiet contemplation, simplicity and reserve. Quaker values still provide a palpable foundation for the region’s culture.

A Quaker Meeting

I am not a Quaker. I have, however, been to several meetings. For those who don’t understand, a Quaker meeting is the coming together of a community of believers to sit in silence in the presence of God. The power of the silence is profound , much like the silence of parts of the Buddhist services I’ve attended.


In northern Chester county, about twenty-five miles northwest of the city, there are a dozen Quaker meetinghouses. The Willistown meetinghouse can be found at the intersection of a dirt road and rural highway. Over 200 years old, its fieldstone construction is as sublime as it is lasting. My most recent attendance was for the funeral service of a colleague from early in my career and, despite the silence during the service, the joy and humanity found within was awe-inspiring.

Pollock and Peace

It would appear that there would be no connection between a 20th Century abstract expressionist painter and a spiritual movement grounded in simplicity. Then again, maybe the idea that they are disparate is simplistic.

As I sat outside, in the cornfield behind the meetinghouse, taking photographs of the trees, the sky and the field, I looked into my smartphone’s screen to see Pollock’s work in the forest and plowed fields, as far as the eye could see.

I’d found the perfect place to sit and breath.


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

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