Right Speech in the Head

The Buddha had a really strong guideline for social media, Ask is it kind? Is it timely? Is it useful? Is it true?. If everyone asked those four questions before posting or saying anything the tensions in our society would melt away.

Much of what Buddhism is concerned with is how you fabricate stuff in your own head, and learn to see the whole process and how you handle it. Analyzing a thought in a set of steps really helps when a bunch of “fanboys” praise Gargoyle, my first work, labeling it as great comics, it moves from my visual” contact with a tweet.

I take the labels I put on it, like my first work, just swipes from Berni Wrightson and Simonson, in comics this is the only job anyone ever liked. From these labels I then fabricate a long story about what a horrible artist I am that I couldn’t do more comics like that and if I had I would have been rich and famous comic book artist. From there it’s how miserable I am from all of this and build a story of bad comics and I am a failure that can’t do anything, so I’m off to eat worms.

What if I asked the four questions about that? Is this little story I made up about my work kind? It’s making me eat worms , eating worms is not a kind thing their slimey. While I’m not the most famous and rich artist in the world, I’ve got food on the table a roof over my head and actually am doing okay in the basics of life. I’ve got it pretty damn great in a lot of ways.

Is it useful? That fabrication just makes me feel bad, I learn nothing about what is right about it and what is wrong about it, it doesn’t help me any way. Is it timely? for god sakes it was thirty years ago maybe it’s not worth even thinking about it any more. And yes I wish I could stop thinking about it when it pops up.

Practice over and over again.

I want to be a great artist, funny I keep failing at it. I’m not Matisse. I’m never going to be Matisse. I suck and fail.

There’s a million ways to become a great artist and all of them take sitting on your butt and doing the work. But with the internet, kid, wife, house, the problems of life it’s really hard to find the time. We won’t even talk about all the anxieties of making work or the siren lure of chocolate beckoning from the closet.

So yes practice your art, make your art, but if you can’t concentrate how do you make your art? All practice starts with breaking down the steps into simple things that you can focus on and learn. Buddha wanted to be permanently happy, his really big insight is that it came from learning the most basics steps of paying attention to the world (concentration) and then progressively letting go of the internet, kid, wife, house, chocolate, art anxieties. He just practiced that’s called meditation.

And he set a very small goal stay focused on one small thing just his breath. He just paid attention to that one action breathing until he hit the point called Nibbana.

I’m a hundred million miles away from Nibbana but I have figured out I need to practice paying attention to my breath to get there. This whole series of posts is to take the process of meditation and apply it to making art. Writing is after all about making things clear to the writer first.

So how does the skill of concentration get developed and make it possible to sit on my butt and work, that’s the next step.

An Artists Eight Fold Path

Buddha wants everyone to be happy. He can’t make you rich, famous, sexy or pain-free, just happy. Buddha gets that pain happens, emotional intellectual and physical. But then I make it worse in my head, that’s suffering. When I stop making it worse and just deal, that’s being happy.

Us artists, we gotta express our sufferings. My angst should pour out into what I make. I’m supposed to “suffer for my art”. I think I’m, special because I express my suffering. I ignore how my suffering hurts others.

Meditation is a practice in how to experience pain(emotional or physical) and let it go. There is a delight in popping the zits of day to day existence. But I can repeat forever how “The Man” screwed me to myself. But to focus on the breath and just the breath, I have to be in the moment, not in the past or the future. My breath is here as I type. My kid not doing his dishes is in the past. I’m not smart and can only handle one thing at a time. So I have to let “dishes” or the breath go. So meditation is my practice in letting go of bad shit and paying attention to what I’m doing like writing. It works, when I can do it, now I’m trying to do it with my art too.

Making art is a practice too. I have to study, each drawing or writing session is just like sitting in meditation. But I worry as much about paying the “rent” as making work. The “rent”, “The Man” and life has often stopped me from making work.

So I’m swiping Buddha’s Eightfold Path. I’m writing an Artists Eightfold path to drop all the shirt and make art. There’s no fame, no fortune not even how to draw well promised it. The only goal is to make work and be happy.