The Middle Way

Zen Spot #144 — Mindfulness, meditation and Dada Dharma February 20, 2018 00:05

Four legs. Four truths.

Art is real. Art is not real. Art is important. Art is not important. Materials are real. Materials are not real. Materials are important. Materials are not important. Ideas are real. Ideas are not real. Ideas are important. Ideas are not important.

Real. Not real. Important. Not important.


Dada, as an art movement, holds that the most mundane household object can rise to the level of high art. Neither time, technique or talent are required to open the doorway to the transcendental. To be clear, I believe art needs to transcend our normal life experience. A visceral connection must be delivered. Not all art can provide such an experience to all viewers, readers or listeners. Rocks must be turned over by those who search or chance must intervene.

Doorways must be sought or accidentally come upon and a clear mind is required.

Cobbling against dogma

Truly interesting things are created when artists cobble the mundane. A screwdriver glued to a stapler welded to a hubcap. Scissors wire-wrapped to a street sign hung from the ceiling. Chicken wire glued to a car tire. 

Everyone becomes an artist. Everyone can create a doorway.

The virgin birth

The artwork above, created by Marcel Duchamp, is among my favorite pieces of Dada. The wheel can spin. The stool becomes useless. The color is binary. It’s playful, serious, active, still, weird and wonderful. Displayed in the Arensburg Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I’ve been with fifty different people when they’ve encountered the piece for the first time. 

Adults are often confused. Children want to play with it. Children don’t see art. Adults don’t see art. The visceral response is polar. The difference is the sculpting of the dharma over the course of an adult’s life.

Spinning in, entropy and spinning out

The wheel has never been spun in my presence. It sits quietly but acts as a reminder that, with little effort, the wheel can turn for minutes at the slightest intended touch. It sits. It is spun and, over time, it slows and returns to stillness.


Understanding that there’s nothing to understand

This piece is a doorway. This piece is not a doorway. This piece is important. This piece is not important. This piece works. This piece doesn’t work.

It doesn’t matter. 

Understanding that understanding is critical

One must believe that doorways exist before a doorway can be found, either through chance or effort. One must spin the wheel, either literally, metaphorically or metaphysically. Fade in. Fade out.

Return. Never return. Never return after you have returned. Return after you never return.


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

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?