Dawn and dusk

I am one of those who, everyday, watches the sun rise and set.

It is for me a way to remain aware that we are part of nature, of a cycle of day and night, and of a movement vaster and faster than we can ever imagine.

Watching the sun rising and setting does not require a view upon the sea or even a large window, a small patch of sky suffices.

Days are filled with activities and noise, so I like the simplicity of seeing the slow lightning up of the sky announcing the start of a new day in total silence. And I like taking a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of a late afternoon to witness the sun setting, even if it is a simple reflection on a glass pane.

Every dawn and every dusk are distinct in sights, with different colors and sometimes birds flying across the sky; and in sounds, with silence or the echos of thunder. Each rising and setting of the sun has its own atmosphere, and I am grateful for being a witness to it all.

These are simple pleasures really, reminding us that beyond the fracas of the world, there is serenity and there is beauty.

Kenza.

Inspiration: changing skies. 

Zen story – Su Dongpo and Master Fo-yin

My son turns 10 years old today, and I told him the following story that made him laugh and think. I hope you do to.

Feeling particularly inspired that morning, Su Dongpo wrote the following brief poem and sent it to his teacher, Zen Master Fo-yin, who lived just across the Yangtze river.

“I bow to the god among gods;
his hair-light illuminates the world.
Unmoved when the eight winds blow,
upright I sit in a purple-gold lotus.”

After receiving the poem, Master Fo-yin replied with two words:

“Fart! Fart!”

When Su Dongpo received the Master’s reply, he became furious and without further ado, jumped on a boat, crossed the Yangtze river and barged into Master Fo-yin’s house saying:

“How could you possibly send someone a note with these two words? This is slanderous!”

“Slanderous?” replied Master Fo-yin. “Who was I slandering? You said you were unmoved by the eight winds when they blew. But look at you now! Just two farts blew you across the Yangtze river!”

Recognizing his error and realizing he boasted about a spiritual progress he had not yet achieved, Su Dongpo apologized to the Master for his outburst and promised to strive to always act with full humility.

Notes:
– The eight winds are praise, ridicule, misery, happiness, honor, disgrace, gain and loss — all external elements affecting our internal quietude if taken at heart and without wisdom.
– Su Tung-p’o or Su Dongpo (1037-1101) was a poet during the Song Dynasty. He is better known as Su Shi (his art name).
– Master Fo-yin (1011-1086) was a Great Master of the Zen tradition. He was known for his strict discipline and wonderful sense of humor, as is the case with many Zen masters and others who have reached such serenity, that joy springs naturally and in its many forms.
– Here, I have most humbly put into my own words a story I once read written by Zen Master Hsuan Hua.

Look

Look,
at the stars appearing as the night starts
at the child smiling
at the cloud shape-shifting
at the bird taking flight
at the chocolate melting on the tongue
at the ink making words come to life
at the ant pulling a leaf
at the steam rising from a cup of tea
at the sky stretching beyond the horizon
at the bread rising as it bakes
at the rain drop polishing the sidewalk
at the flower hanging from the vase
at the onion slice wilting in the pan
at the universe dancing beyond your imagination.

Look,
look around you.

Look,
and you will become all of it.

Kenza.

 

Inspiration: every day.

Art – Caravaggio “Annunciation”

bcdb6d1d-9e86-48a2-89c9-0fd917e918bd
“Annunciation” by Caravaggio, dated 1608-1609.

For a class I will be giving, I am going in detail through forty or so representations of the annunciation, from early Christianity (3rd c.) to the early 20th c.; and among them, I admit this one by Caravaggio simply stands alone.

Kindly note that underlining this painting does not diminish the beauty, tenderness and even perfection of details in other wonderful representations (the catacombs of Rome, Byzantine mosaics, Medieval illustrated manuscripts, Giotto, Van Eyck, Da Vinci, Cristus, and so many others).

It is simply that Caravaggio gives the viewer so much to ponder through his mastery of painting light and darkness, the gestures, the seemingly simple composition and more. I will write no more and let you appreciate it.

Art via the Musée des Beaux Arts, Nancy.