Thursday, January 22, 2015

Work with your own mind - Dharma Art

'Everything is Workable'
5X5" ink, pencil crayon and gouache on bristol board
When I was very small, like three or four, my mum gave me my first lesson in the importance of working with my own mind. I wanted to go play outside but it was raining and I couldn't. I began to cry and throw a tantrum (Something I was monumentally good at) and she told me point-blank that I could cry all I wanted but the rain wasn't going to stop.

I have no recollection of this occurance but it's become one of many family stories so I've heard it often enough for the message to be delivered multiple times.

When I first discovered Ani Pema Chodron and realised my Buddhist nature, I quickly discovered this to be an essential teaching in all my studies of the dharma: You cannot change external circumstances. You can change your outlook.

This message is in no way unique to Buddhism or any other school of thought. Cliches like 'You can't change people' are pointing at it. Over and over again, this is presented to us in life.

Generally we feel that life would be so much easier if things went our way. If our partner didn't do that really irritating thing. If customers were less difficult. If our boss listened to us. If other drivers obeyed the rules of the road scrupulously.

Despite the delivery of the lesson to my toddler self, it's only been very, very recently that I've understood and began truly applying it.

I cannot change my external circumstances. None of us can. Life happens how it will whether we like it or not.

The only thing we have any control over, the only thing we can work with, is our own state of mind. And this is infinitely workable. Every situation, regardless of how we perceive it, is workable when we approach it from the level of our own mind.

The inspiration for this piece comes from the Garuda - a mythical creature that represents the ability we have to exist without reference points, without the need for external validation.

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