I’ve lost track of which is which


Nina Papiorek: Namibia Zebras iii


Zebras: July 22

When I look at this photograph of zebras, when I feel love for them, I become them: I enter their stripes, feel their taut flesh, their muscled bodies, the flanks, the legs, the soft nostrils.

I cannot hold myself apart from them long enough to experience it as love of other. When I love one of these zebras, I am reveling in my own delineated skin, my four points of contact with the earth, the tail of long hair soft at the backs of my behind legs.

Who made this animal? And why? Why on earth – why in a whole universe – such whimsy? What got into somebody’s head, to mark me thus?

When one zebra looks at another, it is not amazed at what it sees. Probably the looker little supposes that it looks much the stripy same as the other fellow. But even if it knew about its own appearance, this knowledge would not impress the zebra.

I can feel the other zebra’s head resting in the middle of my back, where its undermouth sinks into the curve of my spine. Its weight is deeply satisfying. And I can feel the weight of my own chin sunk heavily into the other zebra’s welcoming back, and holding the weight of my striped head (though I do not know that it is striped). I can smell the other, and the other can smell me. I’ve lost track of which is which.

Don’t try to figure it out. It isn’t important. Nor is it worth any effort at all to tell where zebra stops and human starts.

– Jan Frazier
When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening

[I have no way of knowing what picture Jan was looking at when she wrote this piece; the image here is by photographer Nina Papiorek]

art is a living thing

A Living Thing:
Entering the Gate of Art Practice

An art retreat at Zen Mountain Monastery with Mn. Hojin Kimmel, Dec 10 – 12


Art practice is a process, a living thing; it breathes with our breath. It moves with our movement. It is an act of love, a gift of life. The tool of creative expression is given to us to undo the web of knowing that is woven around our brain, mind, and heart. It is this web of conditioning that pressures us to yield to an expected result, to adhere to a blueprint of a projected life.

Zazen is what helps us to see this, helping us to quiet down and become secure enough to jump into ourselves without knowing where we will land and without the illusion of a safety net. We can explore, right here on the spot, the present.

In this retreat we’ll use drawing materials, words, and our body to directly experience ourselves in the world at this particular moment and then give expression to this experience. We’ll observe it thoroughly opening our senses and meticulously practicing to release our grasp on thinking about the experience, about art or the creative process, about the purpose or goal of our efforts, or about what others may think of our work.

Seeing things clearly for what they are—rather than what we want them to be or think about them—we may experience our inherent freedom and set things free to be what they truly are as well.

All levels of experience welcome and materials will be supplied.

Source – Zen Mountain Monastery website

zen arts

seeing without shadows