|Working the bellows for a smith from Niger.|
|Working at the anvil with Sahid.(from northern B.Faso)|
So we find ourselves at the top of another list!
And number one is surrender.
The importance of surrender is mutually exclusive of cultural heritage, social inheritance or personal baggage. We all know the myriad manifestations of this concept: From the religious end of "let go and let god" to the secular "roll with the punches". There are literally thousands of aphorisms designed to convey the importance of surrender.
Let us remember the tzimtzum .
Surrender is the necessary precursor of creation. And in the spirit of surrender, let me be clear: These are concepts and ideas that I have been working on since I can remember, literally a life's work. This does not mean that I have been able to apply them! Oh sure, at times I have... and I seem to get better as I go, but despite a number of tattoos, scarifications, ritual objects in daily use and many other things designed to remind me and keep me on the path I still spend broad spans of time (years in some cases) focused on the destination rather than the journey. This is okay. There is a difference between information and exploration, the concepts I am outlining here are meant to form the mind, not inform it.
This brings up two important concepts:
1. As sure as you can be enlightened, you can get bedarked.
2. As soon as you remember you used to be enlightened, you are again. The longer you can stay that way, the stronger the light.
Put another way:
What this means in terms of mastering a craft is that there are many things along the path that could cause failure. Avoiding all of these leads to mastery. Focusing in a little tighter we can see a particular object. If it is good, it has been manifested in avoidance of things that would make it crappy. Similar objects will be alike in that they too have avoided the resistance to goodness, but crappy objects can be crappy for an infinite number of reasons.
As artists, it is not our job to determine if an object we make is good. It IS our job to follow the flow through the path of least resistance. We don't need to worry about quality because that is literally out of our hands. We already know when something is good or not, but to truly see that we must be calm and focused in our natural state. The natural state of the human being is a state of grace. Again, though it is couched in religious terms, it is mutually exclusive of religion*.
If we focus on what is good, we may never know what is right.
If we focus on what is right, we cannot fail to create that which is good.
*It may, in fact, be anathema. Most religions, and certainly western christian sects have taught that the state of grace is given from god to man. I propose that the reverse is true, the light in enlightenment emanates from within us. Consider this passage. Stripped of it's religion and coupled with the following it can be seen that ancient peoples had long realized that a light can be produced by those who seemed to be good. When you observe people in their natural state, you can see this light. When you achieve your natural state, you produce it.