In our Soto Way, this Life-Practice-Enlightenment is the constant painting of a picture ... a masterpiece ever created and simultaneously complete in each stroke by stroke by stroke.
The goal is not to strip away the surface image in search of blank canvas.
Nor is it a finished masterpiece, done once and for all, then hung in a museum to gather dust.
It is not something one sees outside oneself, as if one merely need see the painting hanging on a gallery wall and is thus done.
It is not simply a matter of realizing that the image on the canvas is a fiction, or real as real can be, or something in between (although all of those). It may be a dream, a dream within a dream ... yet even a painted rice cake can fill all hunger, says Master Dogen.
Rather, it is the art of creation, mastery of the brushwork ... whereby, one is free in life to paint a master stroke, or an ugly stroke, in each here and now instant stroke ... free to create the life-self-world work of art one chooses by one's words, thoughts and acts, one stroke building on the last. It is an ongoing opus, a total composition, paint drop by paint drop, continuing so long as we live.
Nevertheless, while painting onward ... each stroke by stroke is already Whole and Complete, the totality of every painting ever painted contained in each drop.
The 'master artist' is not the mere 'beginner'. Although each stroke is ever new, a new beginning, the true "master" tends to the masterful stokes and compositions, rather than the hack or low or damaging.
All time and space and history painted us into this painting of a world ... and thus we were born as part of its scene, part of this world. Now, alive, we find ourselves with brush in hand ... ready to continue the making of the total composition ongoing from this point forward ... a painted being in a picture, and a being painting the picture, all just the painting all along. Maybe we cannot change the vast, total composition as just one person (the world is a big and complicated place), but we can change so much ... repaint the ugly into something balanced, beautiful, serene. The brushstrokes of our actions, Karma, will be seen far into the future.
The timeless achievement of Enlightenment is A Treasure beyond Measure, a Priceless Painting we realize (as was the jewel in the Lotus Sutra) has been hidden in plain view all along! Looking for the painting from inside the painting, we cannot find it. Or, better said, it is a Priceless Painting that we realize was never hidden nor bound by any frame, just who we have been all along, and we that ... for we are the work of art, all of life a work of art.
What is more, the Vast, Powerful composition ... filled with happy faces and crying faces, images of peace and of war, growth and death, majestic mountains and scrawled graffiti on city walls ... is embraced for Totality, rejecting none of it. All painted right in, making the Whole.
All the Master Peace.
Today’s Sit-A-Long video follows at this link. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.