March 15, 2014 | Sumi-e, TAO Teaching for Artists, Blog
Do not glorify the achievers
So the people will not squabble
Do not treasure goods that are hard to obtain
So the people will not become thieves
Do not show the desired things
So their hearts will not be confused
Thus the governance of the sage:
Empties their hearts
Fills their bellies
Weakens their ambitions
Strengthens their bones
Let the people have no cunning and no greed
So those who scheme will not dare to meddle
Act without contrivance
And nothing will be beyond control
What can the artist learn from this verse? In our information and ambition driven culture, how could this seemingly ignorance promoting verse apply to creating?
I think it comes again, as everything in life does, to the universal harmony (the Tao). The place of the connection with our authentic true self, the nature and the natural.
When an artwork that initially was created from that deep connection, gets to be highly regarded and valued by the public, under the pressure of keeping that status, the artist can get forced to attempt to reproduce similar and often not as sincere work.
If the society and the art critics would not exalt certain kind of artwork, effect or a technique, then it would not be tempting to the artist to copy and thus lose their own innocent unique approach.
So what Lao Tzu is suggesting here is to be content with one’s own existing state of being , put aside the ambition, “…act without contrivance…”, thus removing all the chatter of preconceived ideas, judgement and criticism, and allow the creating to come from the place of unity with nature…true to oneself….in harmony with Tao.
Please leave comments and your own thoughts below.
* From http://www.taoism.net/ttc/complete.htm
**Art and creating are interchangeable with life and living.
*** I am not an authority in Tao Te Ching interpretation……just my insight….that’s all.