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Friday, April 9, 2010


ghosts of spring

The light outside is gathering in the trees along the ridge out my window to do again what it did yesterday at this time. I look at the picture posted yesterday and the same trees today and they're just trees in pink buds. None of that display of intense colors. That's what the light did to the buds, brought out their inner being or something. Now that the light is approaching the same place, a golden glow is gathering as a kind of haze in the trees. The sunlight is coming in at a slant through a long stretch of atmosphere, which now has a kind of rust orange tint, like colored spotlights on a stage. Yellow-orange light projected onto a wall of pink pixels. The color is different tonight. The air was clear last night after the rain, or even during the rain, because it was sprinkling when I got the picture. It was nice tonight, but spectacular yesterday. It had one end of a rainbow too.

One reason I would like to have gone to a big university was to be able to take a course on something about light. It would be in the art department. I have a book on light, but don't read it on my own. Some of what I've noticed without schooling is mixing all the colors together in pigments, paint, makes black. Mixing all the colors together in light makes what we call white light, clear as daylight. Pigment is substance of this earth. Light is from the sky above, the heavens, the sun. Purists say black is not a color. My question is, what is it that's emerging from the tube of paint labeled black? It's not cosmic azure. It's black. Rouault seemed to think it was a color. Impressionists were big on not using black, except for Manet and then Rouault. Who says we can't use black? Look at this. For me, the bottom line is, if there is white, there is black. This is duality and that's just how it is.

We live our lives in the tension of opposites, much like colors in the rainbow are varying degrees of the tension of opposites of white and black, light and dark. And the Taoist way of looking at it, without the light there is no dark and without the dark there is no light. They create each other, are bound together in the yin-yang symbol of two circles going round each other, one black, one white. Stirring a can of paint with a stick, I notice every time it makes the yin-yang in the paint going round and round with the stick. It made me wonder if stirring in a pot might be the origin of the symbol in motion.

It stays with me that the nature of light and the nature of pigment are, in that taoist sense, opposite each other. My mind inevitably shifts to what it is that makes the Tao Te Ching so difficult for beginners, that it appears to hold up the opposite of everything as we know it. It tells the way of the spirit. What we learn getting along in this world is the way of the body, the earth aspect of our dual nature of earth and the heavens. The way of heaven, you might say, is different from the way of earth. That's why we have scriptures to point out the ways of the spirit. They're invisible to us. I've found people divide up very neatly as giver or taker. Every one of us has one or the other dominant. It's revealing about oneself to look and see which is dominant in you. I tend to see it's about half and half. It's not to say one is good and the other bad. It's just one of those checklist characteristics. Are you this, or are you that? What about neither and both? Them too. Masculine or feminine. One thing I find very interesting in this time we're in is the distinctions are blurring. Most obviously in the masculine / feminine issue. I tend to see it as perception. It's the perception of what is masculine and what is feminine that is changing. Perception is reality.

I believe that culturally we take dogs and cats to be opposites, when it looks more like we perceive dog nature masculine and cat nature feminine. Invariably it is said, Is that your new dog? What's his name? Or somebody sees your cat and says, What's her name? That's almost 100%. I don't see cat intelligence and dog intelligence very far apart. They're just different from each other. They're only opposites in human perception. The cats and dogs don't know that. Cats hunt alone and dogs do best in packs. Get a couple of dogs together and you better watch them. Get 3 dogs together and watchout. 3 or more dogs rambling together eventually get killed.

I opened the book, the Tao Te Ching, with the confidence the first verse my eyes noted would be the one I'm looking for to illustrate for you what I believe I'm getting at. And it was. I'll put on here what my eyes fell upon. When it says "The Tao," think the way of the spirit/heaven/sky/light.


The Tao never does anything,

yet through it all things are done.

If powerful men and women

could center themselves in it,

the whole world would be transformed

by itself, in its natural rhythms.

People would be content

with their simple, everyday lives,

in harmony, and free of desire.

When there is no desire,

all things are at peace.

That's the Stephen Mitchell translation. Thank you, Stephen. The Tao (the way of the spirit) never does anything, but through it all things are done. When there is no desire, all things are at peace.

There's nothing I can say after this. Again, my Mr Rogers World where everyone is important.

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