Osho Meditation Resort, Pune, India, Jan., 2006
China ink on xuan paper: 68.3cm X 87.6 cm
Scroll: 79 cm X 181.5 cm
At a demonstration in the Osho Meditation Resort, a wonderful painting happened in unrehearsed performance with Korean Zen dancer Suchee and Japanese sitarist, Atasha. Then, there was a gap. I didn’t know what to do! So I confessed to the audience, “Now I don’t know what to do.” Several people shifted and giggled…. “I don’t know what to do….” By and by, in the stillness, we all began to relax and fall into the gap. “Now, we don’t know what to do….” That was the truth. “We don’t know what to do….”
Then a spark came. “Isn’t it great we don’t know what to do?…. Isn’t it great we don’t know what to do?….” We laughed and brightened…. The presence that included all of us began to expand. “Can you feel the presence expanding?” I asked. “Can you feel the presence expanding?….” I repeated. All of a sudden, it flashed on me, “Let’s do a painting of that!” Everyone was in agreement.
I closed my eyes and deepened in that presence, that emptiness, that not-knowing. When a readiness arose, I looked at the brushes, the largest one made with rooster feathers, a brush signifying freedom, called to me. I loaded it with ink and some water. As my hand brought it over the paper, I didn’t know what it was going to do. Then, suddenly, the brush hit the paper in fast vigorous round circles, repeating, repeating, repeating…. It was the first time I understood what Enso, the Zen circle meant!
This is the very first time I painted an Enso and I did not intend to paint “it”. After it was painted, out of a vague recollection the circle existed in the tradition of Zen art, I had to look up the word and its spelling! At the most I intended to paint “not knowing and the presence expanding,” not an Enso. And even that intention was held and then let-go of in emptiness.
To adopt a Zen Koan, “What is the Enso’s original face before its parents were born?!” Is it different from the Koan, “What is your original face before your parents were born?!" What is original face and how does it shine through? This I see as the subject matter of Zen As Art.