Zen Spot #90 — Mindfulness, meditation and the mind behind a large flower December 8, 2017 23:12

An animal responds

There is something so palpably sensual about Georgia O’Keefe’s series of large flower paintings that one’s primal instinct would be to search for their lover if they’d drifted too far. For men, in public, the response could be unmistakably self-evident.

It happens.


It’s a word I like neither to say or write. That’s my truth. Judge me as you like. Perhaps there is that part of me that has never graduated middle school, when my own involuntary responses couldn’t be contained. To that point, the vagina was a faceless legend, but my mind blushed anyway. The memories are still embarrassing and, were the female subjects of my response to meet me at a conference today, I’d still be wary.

It has power.

Okeefe’s vagina garden

Paintings that render a single flower are the most powerful. In them, no garden exists. Stems? Minimal. Mostly just the bloom. Bursting in slow motion. Moving. Welcoming. Nurturing. Opening or closing depending on the viewer’s animal response.

An animal response. 


My readings have revealed that Buddhist doctrine believes sexual union is best found in a committed loving relationship. I make this point because, as I began to walk the path, I couldn’t reconcile the kind of peace for which I was searching with the kind of animal I am. In a sense, as I walk the path, I want the animal to pass to the next life. I’ve had enough of the animal. Or, perhaps more accurately, I want peace more than I want the response. 

Loving and lovely

The animal is nowhere to be found in O’Keefe’s work. The work is not innocent, though. The fact that I can’t tell if she was painting herself, her view of the world, her desire for a world that doesn’t exist, just a flower, or something that I will never be able to fully embrace, frustrates me. 

I’ve read very little about Georgia O’Keefe. Her journey wasn’t easy. Most journeys are hard — some too hard. Some, so excruciating that madness intervenes and words become worthless ,  like right now. 

One must know and respect and believe. The garden must be kept safe. Every bloom. Hundreds of millions. 

One must commit to nurturing a single flower.


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.

Invented by DharmaMechanic