This morning I put together the latest in a series of rough cuts of my documentary film, Cleveland’s Screaming. If you go to my blog about that (link to your right) you can read a little about it.
The process of artistic creation is a little like Zen. Or maybe a lot like it. The problems your piece has are always obvious and the solutions to them are equally so. Yet it can take ages to notice this and ages more to finally get down to work and make the necessary changes. Quite often this never happens.
One of the reasons most big budget movies are so unremittingly bad is because there are far too many people involved. The artistic process is stifled when the group of people involved in the decision making gets to be too big. The same thing may be true of meditative practices and groups involved in them.
I’ve always been wary of any “spiritual” organization that’s too big. The bigger they are, the worse they are. I’ve yet to find any exceptions to this. It may be that, in trying to please the greatest number of people, you need to make the greatest number of compromises. That kind of compromising attitude never really works, unless, of course, your goal is simply to increase revenue.
When Zen is compromised everyone loses. Although I believe Zen is for everyone, that doesn’t mean you can compromise it to make it appealing to everyone. Compromised Zen is not Zen at all. It’s not really an appealing practice, when you get right down to it. It wasn’t terribly appealing to me. But once I got into it, I could see its practicality and truth. It’s like dieting and exercise. Dieting and exercise are hard work. But it’s really the only way to lose weight. Other methods may be quicker. But they never really work. We all know this. Yet still we hope there might be an easier solution. There isn’t. And there never will be. It’s inherent in the problem itself. The human body just works like that. Same deal with Zen, which is very practical and very much physical labor.
Tomorrow we’ll be meeting at the regular time at the Hill Street Center. See the link to your right for details!
By the way, Nishijima Sensei’s blog has gotten very interesting lately. I’ve never seen an old Japanese Zen guy write so autobiographically. I never knew any of this stuff.