Friday, July 17, 2015

process and mindfulness...

Being present in the creative process. In other words, to seek mindfulness. This week Tibetan monks came to Eureka Springs to create a sand mandala. This was the last day, so as a culmination of their meticulous labors, in a brief closing ceremony they swept the sand in a spiral manner, into the center, just as all human labors are processed into the vortex of eternity. The point, I suspect is to remind us to act with precision, and mindfulness and to not take ourselves and our creations too seriously. The value of art is not in the object but in the self. And the object of crafting is not to make stuff but rather to engage in personal transformation.

It's too bad educational policy makers  had no sense of that when they started closing school wood shops and knocking education back on its haunches. Human beings are much better prepared for academic abstraction when they are grounded in doing real things.

In the other image, I've made inlay of red oak, walnut, mahogany and maple that will be cut into thin slices. Sections of it will be used as inlay on tiny boxes. The coarse grain pattern of the red oak makes the pattern appear more complex than it actually is.

Raytheon, a weapons manufacturer, claims to have made a fully operational, completely 3-D printed guided missile. Our culture's enthusiasm for plastics and for effortless stuff may have thus taken an even darker turn. The oceans are each awash in ever growing gyres of plastic expendable short-term use detritus, and there seems to be no end of it. As exciting as 3-D printing may be, there is more lasting pleasure in the development of skilled craftsmanship.

Perhaps, the world could learn something of great importance from the Tibetan monks. When their laborious meditation was completed, nothing  outside the mandala of their own creation was destroyed in the process.

I will be in Michigan for the next 7 days, and then at Marc Adams School of Woodworking  for one full week beginning Saturday, July 25.

Make, fix and create... Teach others to do likewise.


  1. Anonymous4:02 PM

    The destruction of the sand mandala represents the Buddhist idea of impermanence. The causes and conditions that lead to the creation of all things also means that all things are impermanent. Attachment to impermanent things leads to suffering as they are inevitably lost. Non attachment, not clinging to things leads to happiness. So even after 3 days of meticulous work the maker does not become attached to his work and willingly and even happily sweeps it to oblivion,because that is the way the universe works.
    Your Buddhist box making student, Steven Chain

  2. Steven, There is no suffering that comes from the sweeping away of the sand mandala. So perhaps it is not as effective an example of impermanence as what would come through the use of the 3-D printed missile. It sure seems like humanity is conflicted, poised on the balance point between creativity and destruction.

  3. The accuracy and proficiency of the US air force's JDAM's (as I've witnessed in Iraq first hand) is overrated. On one occasion, we gave the Air Force 5 attempts to destroy an insurgent-held bunker, and then called them off so the Army helicopters could take it out with hellfires. On another day, even though we were 300 meters outside of the target, the missle ended up landing about 80 meters from our position. Crewman of the aircraft apologized over the airwaves to us, saying, "Sorry... Our GPS took a dump on us." I don't hold much faith in Raytheon's accomplishments. For the most part, weapons manufacturers are very willing to pretend to more than they know it can do, because it secures both governmen contracts and investments.

    Need I even mention... That if there were any joy to be had in making something, only the insane would feel that joy while making a bomb. That whole industry is engaged in solely by degenerates.