Eternal Existence---A self-description by Abugy

Eternal Existence

A self-description by Abugy

In “The Vows of Bodhisttva Samantabhadra Sutra”, Chapter 27 of Avataṃsaka Sutra, “one is neither detached from the world nor attached to it but moving like the wind in the barrier-free void.”

“Presence” means being present, being in a place and having being. “Presence” is bound by neither space and time nor any physical constraints. “Presence” is not a conscious thought but one’s self-awareness. One can approach “presence” in many ways, but a lone meditation process is essential because it wakes up one’s sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch and allows one to perceive the world.

Despite the skillful work of an artisan, the beauty of jade actually lies in its inherited attribute. In modern quantum physics, the universe is but a void; nothing exists but fields. The fields are like water, omnipresent while embodying all creations of heaven and earth. Clouds, rain, fogs, rivers and oceans are all still water in different states. Like water, Zen enlightenment exists in different states, which may vary as a meditator’s perception changes. People’s hearts and minds are like water which can be clear or muddy, but despite what they are now, they were all crystal clear at the beginning.

In Zhou Yi’s “Xici”, it says that “the unfathomableness of yin and yang is called spirituality” and that “the spirituality’s operation is unconditioned by place, while the changes which the spirituality produces are not restricted to any form”. The book reveals how the world runs according to a set of rules beyond people’s understanding, and how the spirituality can exist without being constrained to a place or a form. However, the spirituality is omnipresent and is what people are spiritually in communication with and dependent of. In addition to that, in Zhou Yi’s “Kun Hexagram”, it says that “what is indicated by Kun is most gentle and weak, but, when put in motion, is hard and strong. Kun is most still, but is able to give every definite form”. Kun is a both gentle and hard, but when one meditates on it, one will learn of its golden mean, balance and beauty in life. Kun can best depict the magnificence in Chinese art. Such magnificence sees no boundaries; it can be classic, modern or avant-garde. That is why I take my lesson from Kun in the creation and elaboration of my art.

In Diamond Sutra’s 18th chapter—“One Substance Regarded as Identical”, the Buddha had an interesting conversation with his student on the “five eyes” and how life was perceived through them, and “the Buddha told Subhuti, ‘all the various thoughts which occur to all the living beings in all those Buddha-lands are completely unknown by the Tathagata. And why? All thoughts are spoken of by the Tathagata as no thoughts, therefore they are called thoughts. For what reason? Subhuti, past thought cannot be got at, present thought cannot be got at, and future thought cannot be got at.’” The sutra reveals that when one seeks the truth of life, one does not have to travel far; one only has to be in sync with the very moment one exists in. Whatever one seeks merely exists in name and whatever exists exists in the moment.

To be in the truth is to grasp the moment; all the worldly events in the present and past are both probable and necessary. The truth often exists in the depth of one’s heart, a place where the conscious self cannot see. The truth, however, can be a projection of one’s self-reflection. Modern art creation observes no set rules; there are a multitude of approaches to it. However, what one projects in art is dependent of one’s artistic nature. I strive to create art and materialize my vision. I take my lesson from the Kun Hexagram and apply my Zen practice to my art creation. For the past 30 years, I have been studying my own experience in Zen and art creation and I have been striving to depict the aesthetic life journey I have been travelling with seemingly simple but refined brush strokes.

My brush strokes are simple but not dull; refined brushwork carries limitless potentials. In life, I look for simplicity and pureness. My art creation is not mere imagination; it is a train of visual thoughts that comes from my Zen meditation. The nature of my thoughts is like a light that shines within me and is always with me. It is not too difficult to explore the Zen world. If one attempts to understand the moment one is in, feel the moment and go with the flow. Whatever is is; there is no right or wrong because all that exists is merely “the fiends” or “the light”.

In my art creation, I attempt to reveal the spiritual light with my brushwork. “Existence” is the inner state of Zen and also a will power that a practitioner exercises in his spirit. When one senses the “existence” of the embodied nature of the mind of all creations of heaven and earth, one’s paint brush would be able to convey clear messages with spiritual light. “Clear intention and heart” is a sense, like sight, that is both looking in from the outside and out from the inside. With an expressive brush stroke and spiritual light, I wish to depict the harmonious balance between strict Zen training and the freedom of life.

My work has a voice that speaks of vocabulary that is both poetic and artistic. Such vocabulary is the fruit of a classic magnificent beauty -- a combination of Eastern calligraphy and Western painting in spirit. The combination is a reflection of my observation of the reality and a harmonious unity of my thoughts and acts. “The Realm of Spiritual Light Series”, “Serene Light”, “Mountain and Water”, “The Quiet Reflection” and “In Waiting” are so simple that they consist of only a few of brush strokes. The tones are humble and the colors are pure, but together, they dance like the tongues of fire in the void, attempting to visualize the fullness of life. My paintings depict not only the thoughts and impressions of my heart and mind but also a magnificent visual beauty that would eventually lead to the infinite “fields”. In the raging river of reality, no one can stay unaffected and everyone can have a say. One may spend a moment in life admiring the beauty of the world, having a good time, sharing one’s life philosophy or even venting one’s frustration. However, life has multi-layers of depth and there are no right or wrong; one’s gain or loss is of no concern. In the end, one will find that the truth is right here; the land of enlightenment will naturally reveal its self, a vivid self, and, hence, I painted “Eternal Existence”.