Alan Clements speaking with Michael Toms about the quote from St. Frances of Assisi, “There are beautiful and wild forms within us.” Heard on program #3433 “The World Dharma of Freedom and Non-Violence.”
Clements: It is interesting you bring that quote up. I learned meditation by seeing the beauty in myself. This is something that is very little known about the Burmese meditative tradition. The word meditation I learned from my teachers, Sayadaw U Pandita and Mahasi Sayada in Burma, was co-joined with the word Bhavana, the Buddhist poly word which literally means the beautification of consciousness.
For example using the analogy of an artist, you first identify the colors of your palette. Know what are the colors of consciousness that you want to create and want to bring forth upon the canvas, the landscape, the inter-connectedness of life meeting itself. What do you want to bring to life–what are those qualities of consciousness? Dignity, authenticity, of course freedom, compassion, loving-kindness, authenticity, patience, determination, concentration, equanimity, stillness, rapture, and creativity, creativity, creativity.
What is creativity as a force of beauty? These wild forces, rather than taming the mind and pacifying the mind to become so still that the mind is unthinkably anesthetized from the beauty of this great turbulent flow of existence–This seems to be such an anathema to my spiritual intelligence. So, when you see these quotes about bringing forth these wild surges of beauty, it [reminds me] first to identify what are the colors you want to live through; what is your symphony; what is your palette, what are your colors; what is your music; what are your notes; what do you want to spin on your DJ of life.?
That is how I was taught . . .[To] understand those colors and to bring them forth more passionately in life. That is what, to me, is the Dharma life. And this future to believe in is about the forces that are far beyond the world of spirituality and philosophy and Buddhism, but [include] artists and thinkers and refugees and political prisoners–people from all walks of life, far beyond what we consider to be the spiritual elite, the ethnogenic elite. And what are the forces of liberation to color life in this beautiful colorization called human choice? And that is where freedom becomes so powerful to me.
Alan Clements is author of A Future to Believe In: 108 Reflections On the Art and Activism of Freedom (World Dharma Publications 2011).
by Justine Willis Toms