Sunday, 11 January 2009


A walk along by the river listening to the birds, being aware of the wind in the treetops, existing ‘in the moment – in the now’, is a meditation. Being absorbed in writing, art or music is a meditation but there are deeper forms of meditation.


I was initiated into TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION in the late 70’s. The Beetles came back from India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s spiritual philosophies and it became a ‘cult’ thing to do. I had had a serious operation and my good friend, Morag, insisted it would help me heal.

On the morning of the initiation, I awoke to find that someone had stolen our abundant golden sea of daffodils from the garden. Not one remained and I was upset. On visiting the local shop, I was told that a good friend had died. I did NOT wish to be involved with meditation that morning! However, Mel had other ideas.

We are a vessel, they said, and the vessel is filled with life stresses acquired from birth, each one creating a knot in our nervous system. As we meditate, these knots are released and deep traumas fly into the ether. (This can be disturbing, and follow-up sessions are essential).

With Transcendental Meditation, one is given a mantra, a Sanskrit word, which is repeated on each in-breath and out-breath. The aim is, as with all meditation, to still our many thoughts to take us into the Silence. Within the Silence is a state of Blissful Consciousness; a journey to 'The Cosmos' or 'The Void' or 'The Velvet' - Transcendental Consciousness, a soft place, and probably the space where I first became enthralled with the many warm 'blacks'. It was like floating in space. One stays there for 20 min. repeating the process night and morning. The empowerment and energy one receives from T.M. focuses the mind to such an extent that it enhances life and business success. It is simple and effective, much more powerful and restful than a good night's sleep and one is more alert and creative, filled with energy and positiveness.

There have been over 600 Scientific studies at over 200 industry research institutes in 30 countries. These studies validate the profound effects of T.M.

However, it takes dedication and persistence to keep it up and my forays into the Cosmos have long past. I must get back into it.


In SPIRITUAL MEDITATION several ‘tools’ or ‘aids’ may be used. One may focus on the flame of a candle, focus on the in-breath and out-breath, listen to a visualisation or just sit in the silence. A visualisation may be imagining a walk into a garden, on a beach or into a forest where one meets someone special. The aim is to block our thoughts, quieten the mind, and move into the Subconscious, or Higher Self where all knowingness resides. The belief is that 'thoughts' are living things, and can hurt or enhance as surely as a blow or a hug. The philosophy is vast and I am not going into that here.


Zen Buddhism is not a religion as its followers neither affirm or deny the existence of God. P.14.

‘In order to understand Zen Buddhism properly it is important to know something about Buddhism itself. The ultimate experience for a Buddhist is the realisation of Nirvana, which releases one from the addictions and consequences of Dukkha, or suffering. No one can describe this experience because it is ineffable. It was in this condition of inner freedom that the Buddha dwelt after his Enlightenment.’

‘Buddha turned his back on material comforts, on his family, on the priests, and even on the holy men he met along the way whose wisdom he felt, did not reach the mark. He sat alone, accompanied merely by his own deep honesty and awareness, searching for his inner Truth.

The Nature of Things is called emptiness or Buddha-nature, and this in turn is no-nature. Our true essence is no-thingness. (Nirvana).

Over the centuries all sorts of elaborate practices have been built into this simple approach – mantras, koans, visualisations, chanting, listening to ones breath’. St. Ruth, Diana. ‘Experience Beyond Thinking, A Practical Guide to Meditation’. Buddhist Publishing Group.1993.

If you wish to move in the One Way
Do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
Is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise man strives to no goals
But the foolish man fetters himself.
There is one Dharma, not many;
Distinctions arise from clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with discriminating mind
Is the greatest of all mistakes.

Zen Master.

'The practice of Zen has as its aim the purification, deepening and transformation of the consciousness. It seeks to realise the mind of the Buddha through Za-Zen or sitting meditation. Za is understood as ‘sitting’ and Zen is Samadhi, meaning one-pointedness of attention. Many Zen Masters maintain this is all there is to Zen'.

‘When you practise za-zen, do not make any conjectures on good and evil. Do not try to stop your thoughts from coming. Ask yourself only this question: ‘Which is my own spirit?’


O.B. Duane: ‘Zen Buddhism'. Brockhampton Press.

‘Enlightenment comes from practice,
Thus Enlightenment is limitless;
Practice comes from Enlightenment
Thus practice has no beginning.

Dogen Zenji.

Is enjoying the ‘pure, living experience of the moment’ the aim of Zen?
I have a lot of learning and understanding to do before I am close to Enlightenment. What is Enlightenment and how does one know one is there?

Meditation. Being, Consciousness Bliss, Astrid Fitzgerald, Lindisfarne Books.


“Begin each painting session with a period of silent meditation. After a period of meditation, artistic activities further calm the body and mind and offer another way to tap into one’s intuitive nature and deepen the Spiritual Experience.”………”In Zen Art, as in meditation the breath and present moment are the foundation for practice. A line is drawn once and never altered in any way – one line – one breath.”……………….

“Concentrate on your practice and be in the process. Enjoy the moments of creation. Be aware of your breath, your hand, your eye and your body – each moment. Let your painting be an extension of yourself and an expression of your inherent, inner nature. Paint with your breath and body, not with your thoughts. Nurture spontaneity. If you let your breath work for you, your painting will flow smoothly and naturally." Myochi Nancy O’hara. ‘Zen by the Brush. Stewart, Tabori and Chang, New York.

To create my ‘Zen’ designs, I sit quietly in my studio surrounded by the tools I may use. This includes flat brushes, calligraphy brushes, various forms of card, and even scrubbing brushes. With most meditations, one may open ones eyes at any time and still be in a state of meditation. I may employ any one of the methods above. One must sit quietly for at least 10 minutes before a feeling of deep Peace is reached, a feeling of oneness with all things, a feeling of existing only in this moment. I wait until I feel my consciousness change. At that point I will stand. Sometimes I will have read a poem, or written a poem, or studied a picture. Often images appear in my mind and I will pick up a tool and work quickly directly onto the silk using Procion dyes or sometimes on paper using gouache or acrylics.

Often, I am amazed at the images.

I wish to experiment more with poetry, reading a poem before attempting a 'Zen' image. I will also experiment with working with sound.

My dilemma is in how these images should be presented. Do they have a hidden imagery? Letting them fly free, I feel they are strong enough to stand alone, or I may create repeat patterns with them. I see them as symbols of Peace, as huge hangings somewhere in the environment. Or should they be flat on a mountain to be seen from the air.

Meanwhile, I am working with shapes and images created from Tremough as a background structure for my imagery, using my experiments with ‘blacks’ and circles (Terry Frost).

‘The Circle represents everything and nothing – or true ENLIGHTENMENT.’
'Zen by the Brush' (above).

Another little piece about Za-Zen from 'Illuminations, Zen Wisdom'. Running Press.

‘When approached as meditation, Zenga can be the ideal way to ease the tensions of everyday life. The empty canvas mirrors the blank mind for which one strives while meditating. The goal is not perfection, rather, the mind should be free to allow the creation of characters that are simple, natural, and spontaneous. Each character is an expression of the moment, a demonstration of enlightenment.

'The struggle to find enlightenment, to know and understand one’s inner self and the world, is a centuries-old quest that has captivated many of the greatest minds – from Zen masters to writers and poets.'

‘The world is not to be put in order. The world is order. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.’ Henry Miller author (1890 – 1980)

‘I could give you no advice but this: To go into yourself and to explore the depths where your life wells forth.’
Rainer Maria Rilke. Poet (1875-1926)

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