Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tao of Seeing

Wolf or Bear?
A photo taken yesterday near my house, untouched except
for adding a tiny bit of white around her black eyeball
I ended my last blog with this quote by Lauri Doctor about what inspires her art, “The only way I know how to access what’s elemental, dark, mysterious and universal– is to myself work from a state of unknowing.. “

Working from a state of unknowing is fundamental to both Buddhism and Taoism: seeing the world directly by disconnecting our rational brains and preconceived categories of thought, or what Alan Watts calls “ letting your eyes see for themselves.”[1]

According to Watts, the real world, the pure world of the Tao is a wiggly universe without form – like “a cosmic Rorschach test”. Thus, as human beings, when we look at our world, it is like looking at “a blotching ink stain,” and we see what we want to see.

“So, in that manner we have performed maya, the world illusion. But maya also means ‘art,’ and it also means ‘magic.’” This isn’t esoteric or old-wife-tales magic but how our brains actually create our world of things from the formless world of the Tao: it “is the real creation of the world.”[2]

Watts shares this technique that artists have long used to inspire creativity by bypassing rational thought processes:

“Now, experiment for yourselves. When you wake up first thing in the morning, look at the patterns in drapery, or shadows on a wall, a go into that state where you are receptive to seeing images. You will begin to see all kinds of faces and trees and landscapes. Leonardo da Vinci did this...until he saw a vast scene...and this became the inspiration for a great mural.”[3]

To read more I have written on this subject see Part I and Part II below
A State of unknowing: An epiphany of art, magic, and spiritual awe
Expanded consciousness and the origin of art

[1] Tao: Way Beyond Seeking by Alan Watts, Tuttle Publishing,1997, page 96
[2] 2 Ibid. p. 109
[3] 3 Ibid. p. 106

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