April 03, 2009

Making Space in the Day - Shobo Practice

Someone told me the other day that she'd complained to her boss that she was just too busy at her job.  She simply had too much work to do and it brought too much stress.  Rather than tell her that she was unorganized, inefficient and needed to reassess her approach, which wasn't true of course, her boss replied that she needed to read more during the day.  She needed to sit back and read an article or two in the humanities.  Get herself informed about the world and what was going on.

Years back I recall being in a similar situation.  I felt I had just too much of a load for any one human being.  The answer I was told was that I had to take up jogging or fast walking.  In other words, I needed to add an activity to an already packed day.  Both answers have to do with making some inner space and backing away from the notion that the job is too close and requires too much or that there's too much to do.  Many people these days are given greater workloads because of layoffs so they're doing two or three jobs for the price of one.  In that event, the work will never be done so we might as well make some space and allow for leftovers for tomorrow.

In Zen practice, this time of renewal I now call Shobo Practice.  Taking time to restore and nurture the Storehouse of the True Treasure.  Practicing to stay balanced in all our many aspects.  Remembering to really live well and to care for the aesthetics of everyday life.

Doing some extra reading in the day is a good way to give ourselves some interior leisure.  It nurtures the mind and heart.  For those locked into a computer on the desk, try browsing the Arts and Letters Daily website, aldaily.com.  It's chock full of all kinds of well written articles, newspapers, connections to other websites.  And while you are reading at your desk, it's an activity that makes you appear to be working so it's socially acceptable.

My noonday reading today is BOB DYLAN The Drawn Blank Series edited by Ingrid Mossinger and Kerstin Drechsel.  This is the catalog from Bob Dylan's first ever museum exhibition of watercolors and gouaches done by Dylan in 2007.  The paintings are based on Dylan's musical tours in the US, Mexico, Europe and Asia and were exhibited at the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Germany, near Dresden.

Two brief essays in the catalog speak to Dylan as the poet and Dylan as the multi-talented artist.  But, to browse through his paintings one has to applaud his vision and talent.  We see the development of his work from raw sketches in pencil or charcoal to large format in color.  He feels consistently unsettled as we gather from his music, and he feels boldly natural.  His subjects are landscapes and people up close, everyday objects drawn in thick lines.  This is a side of Dylan most of us don't know.

So, our subject today is about taking a brief holiday in the middle of the day to nurture the interior and keep the texture of life healthy.  I'm off now to continue my travel preparations and study for tomorrow morning's discussion on Dogen Zenji.  The sun happens to be shining today and the urge is to dash outside and with a little effort there will certainly be a moment to do just that.  And, don't forget to have a cup of tea.