Become a Bamboo

Become a Bamboo

I Love this Zen story, told like this by Osho: There was once a great painter, he was already well known and was painting bamboos for years and years. But his master said: “No, if you want to really paint a bamboo you have to go and live with the bamboos in a bamboo grove. Right now you only paint the outside of the bamboo, but you have no idea about the inside. Go and become a bamboo.” The disciple went, and it took him three years. Then one day the wind was blowing through the bamboo grove and he started swaying, just like a bamboo. He realised he hadn´t been a man for a while. Now he could go back and paint a bamboo.

It took him three years. Incredible, when I realise I try to make paintings of nature all the time. As a child I grew up in a forest and I believe I had an immediate contact to the nature around me, but now? So many thoughts focused on making money and how to sell this and that, how to present myself to the outside. No time left to become a bamboo!

I suppose this is a reason why aboriginal paintings have such a strong appeal to me. They paint the land they live on: the grass, yam bushes, animals and their dreams. They live in it. There is not much of a separation between the painter and the painted. The paintings are pretty abstract but very vibrantly alive. By looking at them I can feel the stuff they depict, feel rather than see. For me this is the essence of abstract painting: to convey the feeling of something rather than the visual appearance.

Now, what about me? Too much focused on the outside and production, too much garbage in my being to feel a bamboo, or a pine tree or anything. I have this great opportunity now, given by the Mondriaan Fund, to focus on my work for a year. I wrote a great plan with goals and ambitions. They´re all valid in some way… but if I lose feeling with my work and what I paint then everything else becomes meaningless. So maybe to sit a few days in the garden and to observe everything around me is not a waste of time, but the best thing I could do for my work. It´s an interesting task to tell that to my hurried brain. Worth a try though…

(Next time I write I might be a pine tree and complain that one of my branches broke off).

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