by Janice Walter
Something happened when I was five that first year of vacation out in nature on the Rideau. Even at that young age I knew I had fallen deeply in love with something, a much larger presence, the Universe or God in Christian terms, something which existed that I could feel and trust, but that I couldn't grasp or hold on to. I cried as we were leaving, and to distract me, my Dad said we would be back the next year, and he had me get out of the vehicle to open and close the gate at the end of the driveway. It was important to keep the gate closed when you came and went between the Rideau and regular life in order to keep the farm animals out that were in the field beyond the fence. 50+ years later, I find it is interesting to look back and see how the Universe works. This may be the very first Amaterasu art piece...
The seed once planted by the Universe back then, similar to a bird randomly dropping a seed in a garden as it flew over, took years to grow on its own. But it did grow. I was brought up Catholic, and I spent decades of time on the Rideau, drifting, flowing and dreaming on the water. Over time, that dreaming led to a natural Zen practice, followed by starting Aikido at a time when I needed it and studying a bit of Japanese Zen on my own. Eventually, I came across an old to the world, but new to me art form.
In Zen art, after many years of training, a master's real message passes from the Universe through the brush and ink to the paper, and it is waiting there to be read by the right viewer who passes by at another time where the process is reversed from the paper and ink through the Universe to the viewer. Over the years, there were several pieces of Zen art which came alive in such a manner that helped to shape my training and outlook. The message is deeper than what is on the surface of the ink and paper, although that helps with translating the overall message. Sometimes, Zen art even contains puzzles. Once seen, the message continues to unfold over a period of time, and often times it takes years to truly understand the breadth and depth of a good piece of Zen art as it continues to come alive. For me I see such pieces with my heart first before my brain. I can react to a piece feeling it with my whole being before I have time to comprehend it. Over time understanding deepens with both one's heart and mind. One's practice can be like that as well.
Practice is where everything happens. Everyday practice makes a difference in the energy in one's own life and the world around one. If it is Zen practice alone or with Aikido, photography, hiking, biking, walking, skiing, Amaterasu art, calligraphy, kototama, misogi, chinkon-kishin or even fishing - any or all of the above that you choose for your path, whatever one's practice is, just practice. If you can't practice with others, practice alone. Practice alone with others in separate places. Practice together. Hop back on that bike again if something happens and you fall off. Return to centre over and over again and keep moving forward. Be creative. Adapt. Never give up. It matters. Be fully present with the Universe and your own inner self with Love in your heart and find your inner Light, and help to bring that into this world one ray of Light at a time. Continually refine it. It is our prayer for world peace that makes a difference, one person at a time. Collectively, that is powerful.
Every day we are given is a good day to try to do this, no matter how limited. If we have breath in us, it is not too late. Practice as you grow. Just as you are. Perfection is not required. Just sincerity, love and respect for the Universe, others and oneself. Not one moment of hurry, not one wasted breath. Sincere practice while self-correcting, learning and growing is like pruning for the soul.
It is my sincere wish that people at my zendo can experience through their own devoted practice the Light, Love, Courage and Peace of the Universe first hand so that the flower of the spirit of their soul blooms, and their own inner Light flows into the world.
Practice - Our Prayer For World Peace
The pure Light of the Universe is our Light