January 22, 2015 | TAO Teaching for Artists, Blog
Those who are on tiptoes cannot stand
Those who straddle cannot walk
Those who flaunt themselves are not clear
Those who presume themselves are not distinguished
Those who praise themselves have no merit
Those who boast about themselves do not last
Those with the Tao call such things leftover food or tumors
They despise them
Thus, those who possesses the Tao do not engage in them
Analyzing this verse is a challenge for me, not the understanding of it. It is quite straight forward…. but easy? Just like meditation, the Tao, the Natural Way, sounds indeed simple; very natural, but applying it is challenging, as it is a state, where the ego (the self) has no place.
In this Internet driven world, where boasting and self promotion is a common place, how can an artist remain genuine? We know very well and we have been taught as children the “right” and “wrong” behaviours. We are taught to be patient, modest, considerate and humble. We know all this, but do we practice it?
Modern life, including the structure of the social media, is based on self promotion. Google’s definition of it is; “the action of promoting or publicizing oneself or one’s activities, especially in a forceful way”….That doesn’t sound natural and not what we know as proper. From my experience, the boasting, self promoting artist’s recognition doesn’t last long… I am sure you have observed this as well.
If there is anything that should speak for us, it is one’s art. As a matter of fact, it is the quality of our art that should do the promoting. This way we can keep one’s honour and integrity. The result of this behaviour, I believe, will outlast everything else.
We do have to make a point to consult texts like this. They help us notice our ego driven actions and bring us back to our true selves…. they keep us on our toes 🙂
All of my sumi-e paintings and classes are inspired by Tao and Zen philosophies…. please visit
them… and leave comments if you wish.