REFLECTIONS ON THE MIDDLE WAY
About This Series
In a discussion at the Upper Valley Zen Center in Vermont, the subject of the middle way was addressed. One aspect of this well explored concept was compared to the ocean. The water's surface is continually changing in relation to atmospheric conditions, which can result in drastic variation over the course of a day or even an hour. The deeper we go into the water, however, though always changing, it is less affected by wind and the moon. The deep water is powerful in its stability. This concept was then applied to the emotional body. As we move through our lives, we find varying periods of emotional turbulence and calm, resulting in similar surface activity in our consciousness. But as we are able to return to our center in the midst of such activity, we find a place less susceptible to such turmoil. Here we become less influenced by temporal events and find that we are less attached to defining forms outside of ourselves and ultimately, less attached to our own suffering. As we focus less on our individual experiences that often seem to define us, it becomes easier to feel that we are part of the expansive field that connects all life. In this example the deep ocean represents this field.
This discussion inspired a series of paintings that addressed emotional surface disruption and looked for the midpoint of calm. These were done in graphite charcoal, and lime plaster, and are essentially freeze frames. In observing the ocean, I became increasingly interested in the light, which also changes continually. The second iteration of this took me to exploring light and shadow in landscape.