Zen Spot #174 — Mindfulness, meditation and grumpy old Rick June 29, 2018 00:00

In the round

Thirty-four days before my fifteenth birthday, I saw Yes, in the round, on September 11, 1978. To this day, I love their music. Progressive rock — that genre hated by all but those who love it, Yes was prog-rock’s Beatles. And, if this simile holds, it naturally follows that Rick Wakeman, their keyboardist, is Billy Preston. 

I loved Billy’s music before I loved Rick’s, and I suspect Billy and Rick loved each other’s mastery. Surprisingly, I don’t like the Beatles. Moving on.

Banks of keyboards from the nosebleeds

My friends and I were seated within fifteen rows of the top of arena — the Spectrum, in Philadelphia. For readers born after 1985, concert venues did absolutely nothing to discourage fans from smoking weed back then. Crowd control was limited the felonies.

Those sitting near the top of the arena never needed an ounce. By the beginning of a concert — any concert — a transcendental cloud hung ubiquitous. More’s the better to enjoy the experience, as the Brits say.

From the same elevation, with inspiration and distortion borrowed from dozens of pounds of ounces below, Wakeman’s phalanx of keyboards looked incredible. Too, when he donned his cape, I believed in his religion as much as I believed in any pastor in any cape on any altar.

I ask a lot from the people around me.

Wakeman painting

Shortly after the THC left my bloodstream, I broke out the oil paints. The image above resulted. Notice that the hands are hidden — I couldn’t draw hands at the time. Inspired by Roger Dean, the artist whose work was featured on most Yes album covers, I created a weird other-world that my friends loved. Perhaps most importantly, Rick was wearing his cape, standing at his altar. Even Roger never made that happen.

Portrait of the Buddhist as a Young Man

It’s important, in my opinion, to address time from time to time. Forty years have passed since the artwork above was finished. At the time, it demonstrated facility and promise. Between then and now, I’ve grown — and my art has grown with me. The path, however, has been chaotic. At once, four decades have passed in the blink of an eye and in the crushing slide of a glacier.

I’m not sure how far I’ve come or how much further I have to go. Along the way, I learned of this thing called Buddhism that has put time in perspective. Too, I learned about the metaphorical home of Zen, having come to the understanding that I knew about it all along.

You did, too. You do, too.


Twenty years too late, Yes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. The high priest of the keyboard, in his acceptance speech, was hilarious. I’d never heard his voice and knew nothing of his humor. Droll, wry and profane, he spilled his guts brilliantly while his band-mates cringed in his giant physical shadow. I have a giant physical shadow. 

Time is nothing.

Follow Rick on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrumpyOldRick


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.

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?