THOUGHTS GET IN THE WAY
I am convinced that thinking (as a form of action) is detrimental to real progress. Thoughts can hinder spontaneous action. Spontaneous action is progressive, single minded and natural (in harmony with the natural order of the cosmos). I guess that spontaneity is something like what is termed in Eastern wisdom as ‘non action’.
For the third night in a row I have caught and removed a big black hairy legged spider from our house. The first occassion was in our dimly lit living room where the spider made it’s way down the arm of the sofa then scuttled across the floor. I didn’t hesitate as I pounced on the little fella to catch it before it disappeared out of sight. I managed to grab hold of it, being careful not to hurt it, and swiftly threw it out of the window. The next day I found it in the kitchen (may not have been the exact same spider but same kind and size) it was floundering on the floor caught by one of it’s legs in a dusty web by the cooker. With outstretched legs it tried to escape but to no avail. In the bright light of the kitchen I could see this spider moor clearly than the one from yesterday. I could see it wasn’t going anywhere soon so I first opened the front door before scooping up the captive spider and throwing it into the jasmine bush outside. There was a little bit more hesitancy in my actions compared to the previous night. I am not scared of spiders like some (most) people are but I was when I was younger and there remains with me a residue of that fear.
On the third night I spotted our hairy legged friend in the hallway right at the top of a wall near the ceiling. This one, like the one in the kitchen had it’s legs spread wide which made it look quite big. I switched on the light then opened the front door ready to throw it out. Then I decided to switch off the hall light fearing it might alarm the spider and cause it to run. Because of it’s location right up near the ceiling this fella was going to be a little bit more difficult to catch, I didn’t want to hurt it after all! I had given it some thought and I knew there was a chance that I might drop it and it would escape, it might even jump or fall on me. So a little bit of the old fear had crept in and when I went to grab the spider it did indeed get away from my grasp. Fortunately it fell onto a shopping bag and hid on the underside of it. I was able to take the bag outside with spider attached. I took it right out of the garden and let it go across the other side of the street.
The more I think, the more I regress
The point I’m trying to make is that the more I thought about what to do (the more I planned) to remove the spider, the less effective my actions (plan) became. The more spontaneous my actions were (the less I planned) the more effective I was in acomplishing what I set out to do. I wonder if this spontaneous type of action is what is meant in Buddhist thinking as ‘doing not doing’. When an action is completely unplanned and spontaneous in this way it is almost as if it did itself. The action was done without any real doing on the part of the doer. I would liken it to when a painter says of a successful painting, ‘it painted itself’.
It is this kind of spontaneous flow, unhindered by thought or ego, that I would like to permeate my painting process. This is in fact the most important objective for me with my painting. Far more important than the end result or trying to achieve a deep significant narrative is the spontaneous flow of the process from start to finish. To be sure, if ever a spontaneous flow of process is achieved, then the resulting image should reflect that and would probably convey an incredibly powerful message or provoke a powerful reaction. But even if it didn’t, the real objective with art is still this; to allow spontaneous creativity to flow through the artist unhindered. Real art is created by God through the artist who is but a vehicle or channel for God’s work. The job of the artist then is to do by not doing and create by not allowing ones own biased, restrictive, egocentric thoughts to get in the way of the creative process. Don’t think what to do or how to do it, just do it!
Not my will but thine be done