“in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few” – shunryo suzuki
being open to learning from others, seeking teachers, guides, masters – all have had a profound effect on my life. there are many things i’d like to learn. with so much focus and time wrapped into the work, it is easy to believe in being the expert, and to feel the pressure to be that – discarding the idea that we always, eternally, have something to learn from every person and every experience. remembering to say “i don’t know”. teachers can be powerful bridges to new territory, new discovery, new worlds, continual learning.
In the tradition of zen buddhism, wisdom is passed through a lineage of one-to-one direct transference of thought from teacher to student. The focus is on direct experience rather than creeds and scriptures.
teachers have always been guides in my life – beginning with my father, a teacher of music. there were piano teachers, school teachers, athletic coaches – all guides, in finding what was in me that was also in others before me.
learning from seurat
i remember watching those episodes of kung fu – just to hear the kernel of wisdom, the one that only the teacher could crystallize in a few profound words – the distillation of great practice and efforts, trials and lessons.
“master, these things which we are taught. i cannot do them.”
“you find these exercises too difficult?”
“no master. too cruel.”
“and to be killed. what is that?”
“i must learn these exercises, to defend myself.”
“learn first how to live. learn second how not to kill. learn third how to live with death. learn fourth how to die.”
or the story of the peaceful warrior – a story of a struggling gymnast guided by a teacher, who initially appears to him on the roof of a gas station.
“you haven’t yet opened your heart fully, to life, to each moment. the peaceful warrior’s way is not about invulnerability, but absolute vulnerability…to the world, to life, and to the presence you felt. all along i’ve shown you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory – it’s about love. love is a warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.”
learning from titian
i’ve spent thousands of hours of practice, study, and connecting with teachers and coaches, and in watching the practice of masters i’ve often wished for further study and practice in drawing.
so i’ve gone back, to creating a program of study, and enlisted teachers and masters, to guide me. and i’m watching and studying those masters around me, who have been more than willing to help. there are many, though i have found anita lehman, in her patient encouragement and thoughtful instruction to be an essential guide. in study of the recent exhibit of andrew wyeth paintings at the seattle art museum, she shared with me an observation her painting instructor made of wyeth’s work – “every stroke matters.” this immediately transported me to the squash court and the lessons of shabana khan, champion player and masterful teacher, whose continued revelations on the court elevate athletic potentials (for now i’m keeping my day job).
a great source of powerful inspiration has been my deep connection and observation of tim girvin, as creative force, role model, mentor, spiritual traveller, and partner. He has provided endless study references, masterful expression of creative energy in calligraphic illustration, intellectual exploration, and tireless pursuit of wonder.
slowly, i’m re-learning, from the beginning – and with this added guidance, i’m learning more, and finding a deeper connection to this fascination, this love – and breathing life into it, and into me.