Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two Blind Men

Two Blind Men Crossing a Log Bridge

Hakuin Ekaku 1685-1768

I had a date this afternoon to go to the Assyrian exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. I arrived half an hour early and so wandered into "Zen Mind,Zen Brush" while waiting. This exhibit is for me particularly moving. How might one explain the resonance of soul that these paintings evoke. To the untrained eye they perhaps seem haphazard, but the freedom within the craft of brush painting they display is extraordinary. 

The simple things in life are the hardest to achieve. In art, as in life, elaboration is often a mask for unsteadiness, a cover for indistinct vision, an inability to mark the absolutely essential, and dispense with the rest. When the tool, the mind, the perception and the soul are in perfect unison a single stroke can tell more than all the elaborate detail of a Renaissance fresco.

This painting by Hakuin Ekaku took my breath away. It is an image that is at once amusing, with gentle and kind humor, and a most profound image of man's search through life. Are we all not blind persons crossing the log bridge of life? Who knows into what we fall should our searching hands or prodding stick betray us? What is below that log bridge- the void or two inches of water, flowing gently over soft mud?

1 comment:

Joshua said...

This is striking. How different from the heroic portrayal sometimes given to the saints.