Compartmentalized Enlightenment

detail of sculpture, 2000, ceramic, 18" d x 3" h

detail of sculpture, 2000, ceramic, 18" d x 3" h

I’ve had a few extraordinary teachers in my life but one in particular leads the way in the ‘get real’ department.

I took a class in calligraphy which I loved.

Part of the class was a private moment with the teacher as he came up behind me as I was seated and poised with pen dipped in black ink ready.  He proceeded to gently lean in over my shoulder and take my hand in his,  guiding me to make the mark on paper.

In those few seconds, I experienced what felt like his effortless transmission to me of the eons of cultural, individual and spiritual archives he held in his old Japanese body of the knowledge of calligraphy.

A great sense of perfect emptiness widened in me.  I needed nothing more.

Needless to say.. I wanted more of THAT.

To make a long story short, I worked on creating an email correspondence with him over a year’s time and he surprised me one day with an invitation to visit his family on the West coast for a week.



He met me at the airport in his buddhist robes.. so small in stature.. unsmiling..perfectly fitting into the rarified fantasy I had concocted for this experience.

I brought gifts..

My most cherished ceramic piece for him and a lovely carved rock vase for his wife.

His home was filthy…

Mold grew on the walls of his basement studio.

I was given dirty sheets with holes in them to make up my couch bed in a freezing room.

We all sat down to dinner and I felt the searing emotional distance between he and his wife.  Two strangers co-habitating.

After 4 days, I gave myself symptoms of the flu in order to get the hell out of there with a modicum of grace…

…My BEST piece of art residing in their dingy and yellowing kitchen.

OK… what was THAT?????????

It was a brilliant experience of wishful thinking on my part and the delusion that if a person exhibits a thread of enlightened behavior in one arena, THIS HAS A GOOD CHANCE OF TRANSLATING INTO THE REST OF THE PERSON’S LIFE!


I wanted his energy.

He wanted mine.

Human….very human.

Disappointing but very ENLIGHTENING!

Oh, so very enlightening….


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