April 14, 2015 | TAO Teaching for Artists, Blog
Know the masculine, hold to the feminine
Be the watercourse of the world
Being the watercourse of the world
The eternal virtue does not depart
Return to the state of the infant
Know the white, hold to the black
Be the standard of the world
Being the standard of the world
The eternal virtue does not deviate
Return to the state of the boundless
Know the honor, hold to the humility
Be the valley of the world
Being the valley of the world
The eternal virtue shall be sufficient
Return to the state of plain wood
Plain wood splits, then becomes tools
The sages utilize them
And then become leaders
Thus the greater whole is undivided
I have started to write my interpretation of this verse few days ago and now that I am about to publish it, I question it. There is so much, much more in these verses then we can grasp. I think that is the reason why this texts are eternal. It is your state of mind that decides what we take out of it at the time of reading them.
This verse, like most of the verses, is about finding the right balance in already existing opposite forces in our surroundings and most importantly, ourselves. As much as we don’t like to admit it, we carry within ourselves all human qualities, both the positive and negative ones. We do try to ignore and deny the negative in ourselves. The awareness and acceptance of them though, is the only way of giving more strength in the cultivating of the positive. I believe there is an expression coined for this unfavourable side; the shadow self. In order for us to understand ourselves well, and be complete, we have to face our shadow self… we have to allow our good and bad to surface. The more we put importance on one and suppress the other, the more it will rise.
Isn’t it obvious how this would apply to artists? As the art world is very competitive and the artists are striving to succeed, they tend to hide behind an image of success. The worth is based on how people perceive you and thus how you present yourself becomes very important. It is hard to stay balanced and really create genuinely ( the good art comes from being genuine) when one is hiding behind a partial self. Only when we honour and accept all the traits in ourselves, can we stay on the path of personal and artistic growth.
Our task is to observe ourselves, realize our uniqueness, yet be part of the immense unlimited source… the Tao ….. and create from there.
In practical terms….. accept yourself unconditionally, and know that you are much more than what you think.
The painting above is Sumi-e in style. I invite you to visit my Sumi-e gallery.