What is the real question?

August 29, 2009

Everything is. There is a universe in the tiniest leaf, there is a whole of creation in me. I will see it, if I look. I really enjoy my art class. The teacher begun her introduction, on the first day, by saying: drawing is not about putting shapes down on paper, it is not about what you can do with pencil and charcoal, it is not about technique and skill. Drawing is about looking. Everyone can draw, she said. If you can see it, you can draw it. We had a homework exercise that made the point beautifully. The task was to draw a fruit or a vegetable, from memory. Then to take an actual fruit or vegetable and draw it again, this time from observation. Drawing a pepper from memory took me about five minutes. It was a simple shape, elongated, grooved. It looked like a pepper, it was a pepper, everyone would recognize it as a pepper in an instant. Then I took a pepper and placed it in front of me. Forty minutes later I was nowhere close to completing my drawing. There was so much detail, so many shadowy shapes, so many highlighted places. The longer I looked at the pepper the more details I noticed. Grooves, ridges, stumps, kinks, depressions, curves. They were endless. I could have drawn for hours, for days, for years, and never be “finished” with describing the pepper with my pencil. The pepper was endless, unlimited. What a beautiful illustration of our relationship to reality that is, I thought as I drew. We see reality in symbols, simplifications, streamlined shapes. An elongated shape is a pepper, a round shape is an orange, a round shape with rays is a sun. Killing is bad, being nice is good, stealing is wrong, giving is right. Our mind, being always on the defense, can not open to the wealth of shades, shapes, kinks, curves, stumps and depressions. The mind makes things simple so that we can “deal with them”, categorize them, judge them. So that we are safe, so that we understand, so that we are sure to be good, sure to “do the right thing”. But what if we let go of mind? What if we look? Then we will see an entire universe in a small, red pepper. Then there will be an entire universe in a smallest leaf. If we ask a question and look, we will see an entire universe in ourselves. Then every single pepper is perfectly complete and unique, no better or worse than other peppers, but perfect as itself. Then each one of us is complete and absolutely unique, perfect as who we are. Then everything is complete and absolutely unique, perfect as what it is. Everything is the real question. Everything is the real answer. If we can see it.

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