Posts for Tag : Lao Tsu

Tao Te Ching – Fourteen

Look, it cannot be seen – it is beyond from.

Listen, it cannot be heard – it is beyond sound.

Grasp, it cannot be held – it is unintelligible.

These three are indefinable:

Therefore they are joined as one.

From above it is not bright;

From below it is not dark:

An unbroken thread beyond description.

It returns to nothingness.

The form of the formless,

The image of the imageless,

It is called indefinable and beyond imagination.

Stand before it and there is no beginning.

Follow it and there is no end.

Stay with the ancient Tao,

Move with the present.

Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of the Tao.

LAO TSU

***

I started to think in earnest about how to achieve a huge mural in the spring. Something I’ve not done before. I visualised standing before it smiling, a photo being taken, the children happy, inspired. Creative visualisation before the event.

And then an epiphany walking past two big paintings on my wall.

‘Just be you! Paint your art!’

It doesn’t sound much of an epiphany, but it’s as though I had blocked the flow thinking I should be someone else ie a mural artist who knows what she is doing!

The epiphany said – let it flow, it will come, you cannot push water into the pool, it flows into the pool and becomes a pond. You can do this.

I walked, feeling excited, laughing at my own idiocy. Biting wind, drifting snow. Then started drawing out ideas, letting them flow. I know now that it will come together and I will enjoy the process, no longer scared and overwhelmed. It’s as though I have found the straight line, the path, my brain no longer bouncing from side to side with possibilities.

The straight line – self worth.

‘Stand before it there is no beginning

Follow it there is no end.’

Later a conversation with an artist friend and a penny dropping. A great big AHA moment.

Me – You’re the queen of perspective

Ronnie – I just think of a clock face

Me – (penny dropping) OMG, I CAN do perspective. A clock face, that’s BRILLIANT!

I am looking forward to drawing from life today, playing with the clock face. And to continue letting ideas flow for the wall.

Tao Te Ching – Thirteen

Accept disgrace willingly.

Accept misfortune as the human condition.

What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”?

Accept being unimportant.

Do not be concerned with loss or gain.

This is called “accepting disgrace willingly.”

What do you mean by “Accept misfortune as the human condition”?

Misfortune comes from having a body.

Without a body, how could there be misfortune?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.

Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

LAO TSU

****

Stop: head on books, knees up, hands on rib cage, let go. surrender, allow. Let things give for a bit. It’s called Constructive Rest.

My Alexander Technique table. Maisie just in from the snow, letting go.

‘Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.’ Lao Tsu

Care is needed: our beautiful planet is in crisis, the way we are going is unsustainable. Time to choose another way: allow oneself to stop, to be unimportant, to care.

A call for action!

“If we stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing does itself” FM Alexander.

It sounds easy, but we are all so identified with our habits, the past, in our sense of self, our needs and aspirations, we forget to question appropriateness.

I hear people say ‘when things return to normal.’ Normal is heading for disaster! Disgraceful destruction and selfishness!

The world has slowed down a bit. That has to be good for the planet, surely? Maybe the virus will help us see that everything is everyone’s problem.

‘Care for all things.’ Lao Tsu, The Book of the Way.

What can I give?

Not, what can I get!

****

Alexander Technique audio here.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Seven

Heaven and earth last forever

Why do heaven and earth last forever?

They are unborn

So ever living.

The sage stays behind, thus he is ahead.

He is detached, thus at one with all.

Through selfless action, he attains fulfilment.

LAO TSU

****

I didn’t paint yesterday, creativity ‘unborn’, instead I moved paintings around, searching for space. It is a year since I agreed to do an exhibition in a castle and framed a lot of work.

There was an old lady who lived in a shoe, she had so many paintings she didn’t know what to do!

Covid cancelled that exhibition of course.

Choosing to detach from social media for now. Untangle the web! Caught like a spider and finding no joy. Time to step back.

‘If we keep doing the same thing in the same way, we get the same results.’ FM Alexander.

Honour ones own feelings, all of them. It sounds so easy yet we forget and override ourselves.

Backing up a horse to find power, elasticity, forward motion… step back, detach.

‘Back into your back!’ as we say in the Alexander Technique world and follow your joy!

“Wherever you are, what ever you do, be in love.’ Rumi

****

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Five

Heaven and earth are ruthless;

They see ten thousand things as dummies.

The wise are ruthless;

They see people as dummies.

The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows.

The shape changes but not the form;

The more it moves, the more it yields.

More words count less.

Hold fast to the centre.

LAO TSU

****

The verse made me think of the sea, the wind, the forces of nature. Another windy bitterly cold day. I felt tired, low.

I found abandoned paintings of seashells in my studio and reworked the small canvases into seascapes.

I wondered why I had given myself the task of going through the Tao Te Ching, The Book of the Way. But I feel rudderless, drifting, and the words are considered sacred, holding meaning to be understood. It is a way to learn from – lessons in the flow of nature.

Does the word dummy means quiet?

or

People are foolish how we treat the planet, dummies indeed.

‘The more it moves the more it yields’ an Alexander Technique like phrase. When we fix our bodies we become stuck in our attitudes, our emotions, our life. Most people are fixed, held together by tension. ‘Yield’ yet ‘hold fast to centre’. Move from the balance point that aligns everything. It is so simple yet a challenge to return to.

I miss the children I used to teach, I miss teaching.

‘The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows’ – the tides, the tides of breath. A sea shell washed up on the shore.

‘The shape changes but not the form.’ We are all connected by breath, by life, on our small precious planet. Now more than ever we should see this truth!

***

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Four

The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used but it is never filled.

Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things!

Blunt the sharpness,

Untangle the knot,

Soften the glare,

Merge with dust.

Oh, hidden deep but ever present!

I do not know from whence it comes.

It is the forefather of the emperors.

Four Feathers, Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 40 cm
Letting Go, Ink and Acrylic on Paper

Tao Te Ching – Three

Not exalting the gifted prevents quarrelling.

Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.

Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.

The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.

If people lack knowledge and desire, then intellectuals will not try to interfere.

If nothing is done, then all will be well.

LAO TSU

****

Feather Study, Acrylic on Canvas

Feathers, found treasures. Still Life.

Painting, I thought about friends in hospital. The feathers became angels sending healing – a wing, a prayer, a focus to mediate on, to stay steady and send love. Feathers holding light, air, space.

A long day painting, absorbed by delicacy.

I read the text many times, ‘strengthening bones’ resonated.

Wing feathers flying through the air. Miracle structures. Lifting up.

Walking to strengthen bone…my injured foot, delicate but functional.

The day was cold, bitter. I didn’t walk.

Maisie, my dog, didn’t want to be out in the day more than necessary either.

Swan Feather, Acrylic on Canvas
Feather Study 2 – Acrylic on Canvas

Tao Te Ching – Two

Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness.

All can know good as good only because there is evil.

Therefore having and not having arise together.

Difficult and easy compliment each other.

Long and short contrast each other;

High and low rest upon each other;

Voice and sound harmonise each other;

Front and back follow each other.

Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking.

The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,

Creating, yet not possessing,

Working, yet not taking credit.

Work is done, then forgotten.

Therefore it lasts forever.

LAO TSU

***

Heat, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 30 cm

The words seemed like the point of a pen becoming a line then getting tangled to make a shape before remerging as a straight line and coming to rest. Quick drawings, concentrating. One line drawings.

Later in the day, the sun shone and although temperatures are still well below freezing I wanted to paint in oils, to unleash some emotion. My unheated studio was so cold I painted really quickly looking for the essence of the subject. A hot subject and a subject endlessly challenging – zebras – the horse with stripes.

During the day my mind swung from thinking that being inspired by the Tao was a brilliant idea and perfect learning, inspiration and guidance for now and the horrors of covid to being utterly pretentious. But the games of contrast the mind plays are in this verse so… onwards…. with gratitude for a quiet life and life itself.

Stay safe,

Love Kirsten

https://www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk