Thursday, September 25, 2003

So I'll get to see if the new blogger "draft" function works.

I'm watching the difference between writing with and writing without posting. Or, more exactly, between thinking about writing with and thinking about writing without. Certainly an element -- more than I had thought -- of "showing away" or "boasting" as the Tong Len aphorism would have it. Though I don't think it's boasting about realization so much as boasting about cleverness and "remorseless honesty." (What a tell-tale phrase THAT is, eh? Why should honesty without remorse be such an admirable thing?)

How to distinguish, though, between the simple desire for communion with other sentient beings, closely allied (I hope) with compassion and empathetic joy, and the desire to toot my own horn? & given the difficulty of making the distinction, how important is it (at this stage, when so many much grosser confusions run so much of my life?) I'm inclined to be lenient with almost any confusions that conduce to practice.

I wonder about artists, Jef Gunn for example, who did a show of prints called "Taking and Sending" -- how does that fit with his practice? Since the Western culture of art is so Promethean -- Nietzschean -- Faustian -- how do artists who also practice the Dharma deal with that? There's a lot of them, after all. I wanted to "be a writer" (another tell-tale phrase!) in my youth, not because I had anything in particular to say, but because I wanted to be a Great Man, and have admiring prefaces written about me: and the Great Man carreer paths were pretty thin on the ground for shy softspoken athletically un-gifted boys.

Odd coincidence that at precisely this point Martha and I are planning to start classes in thangka painting, every other Saturday thru February or so. First class next Saturday. Extraordinary to be able to take classes directly from Sanje Elliot. I remember having twinges of jealousy about the Paris cafes in the thirties or San Francisco at the heyday of City Lights, when people were tripping over soon-to-be-considered great poets and artists and musicians on every streetcorner. But that's what Portland and the American Dharma scene in general feels like to me right now. I get to know Michael and Sarah and Jef and Sanje. On the right streetcorner at the right time.

And of course then I paint myself in as James Boswell or Dorothy Wordsworth or Anais Nin, great at one remove. It does still have power over me, the desire to be a Great Man. Remarkable how old stuff keeps coming back. It's like a Shakespearean stage: the old confusions dart off stage left, and reappear moments later, stage right -- different costumes, playing a different roles, but the same old confusions.

No comments: