Sunday, July 6, 2008

An Artful Act

Yesterday's entry was inspired by a passage from Issa's book, Oraga Haru:

"Without lifting the foot, he arrives.
Without moving the tongue, he preaches.
Be you ever in the lead, you still must know
That there is always One who comes before

- Issa, quoting Mumonkan

I appreciate the simplicity in this notion, as I interpret it:

We are shown the way by those who have gone before us. We learn from them, we follow them along the path until we come to a fork in that path which is simply too compelling to ignore, and we begin our own journey down a new path, our path.

We may not be covering new ground, but we are traveling with a knowledge and a passion that will help us experience this 'new' path in a unique way. We observe and interpret our experiences and express them through our work. What ever that work may be, it is driven and shaped by our creative minds.

This is what we do.

Text and photo ©2008 David W. Sumner


John W. Wall said...

Interesting translation, Dave. Your Mumonkan link has a different one that I like better for its lack of religious connotations:

Before a step is taken, the goal is reached;
Before the tongue is moved, the speech is finished.
Though each move is ahead of the next,
There is still a transcendent secret.

David W. Sumner said...

That's what I like so much about the work of these long gone Japanese and Chinese poets. There are so many translations and the interpretations are so varied. the one I posted had a simplicity that rang true to me. A simple understanding that no matter what we do we are only following. There's no secret to that.