Blank Canvas

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    A memory I have of a high school class field trip to the art museum often pops into my head of late. I remembered standing in front of a piece of art appropriately named “blank white canvas”, as it was a white canvas with nothing painted on it. Next to that another canvas this time painted red, named “red canvas” but not blank.  I remember laughing with my classmates as we made fun of this ‘art ‘.

    This time the memory popped up after reading a post on the kfoundation.org of a man who haven grown old and accomplished much was now unwell. With only hours left he professed that he was afraid of dying. The fear coming from the clinging onto identity and losing the limited consciousness that is associated with it…

    The same questions that always arise with the memory of the ‘blank white canvas’ came to mind. Was the blank white canvas blank? Why were the painted canvases not considered to be blank?

    As those questions arose, I was struck by an image that the canvas, all canvases, are always blank regardless of what is or is not painted on it. From that image the realization that the canvas contains within it every painting that has been and will be created. (Just as OUM is the sound of every word spoken or will be spoken. A sound that arises from and returns to silence) A painting being drawn up from the canvas for its time, even as the canvas remains blank.

    The memory of standing in front of the “blank white canvas” laughing… a moment of measured time, also an eternal moment that is not a measurement of time.  Perhaps even, this imagining, a picture arising from the canvas. Holding both realties together, I notice the breath deepens and thoughts dissolve.

    Something Joseph Campbell wrote comes to mind. “The central point of the world is the point where stillness and movement are together… Movement is time, stillness eternity. Realizing the relationship of the temporal moment to the eternal – not moment, but forever – is the sense of life.
    Realizing how this moment in your life is actually a moment of eternity… and experiencing the eternal aspect of what you’re doing in the temporal experience, this is the ‘knowing’ experience.

    From the blank canvas the eternal present now, from which all arise and return, nothing is lost, nothing gained, nothing to fear. I wonder about the man laying in bed afraid…


    I still find the “Blank White Canvas” funny. The museum paid $10,000 for it… Still I haven’t forgotten it.

    There was another peace ‘White canvas with wet toilet paper”   The artist had thrown wet toilet paper onto a white canvas. I wonder now what the artist was feeling when they drew that out from the canvas.


    Dear peter:

    We cannot see Eternity and Stillness with our temporal, temporary eyes. But we can see it with our.. spiritual, eternal eyes, and find comfort in it when sick, in pain, when faced with the death of one’s personal Time and Movement.

    Practice the transfer now by breathing in Eternity and Stillness and breathing out Time and Movement- is what I will do today.

    Thank you for this thread, Peter!



    If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are.

    “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter” with the verb “to be”, we have a new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud, we cannot have paper, so we can say that the cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are.

    If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.

    — Thich Nhat Hanh


    “Practice the transfer now by breathing in Eternity and Stillness and breathing out Time and Movement” that was nicely put Anita

    inter-be what a wonderful way of ‘clearly’ seeing. Thanks for sharing Roberta

    I wonder if clearing seeing, the realization of the temporal and eternal is related to a move towards the “right” side of the brain where the experience of time, that the past, present and future happen all at once and a experience of the eternal now, and where language (measurement, duality) fade? We tend to set up our ‘throne’ on the left side where the I likes to reside and measure everything.


    I have always found ‘The Heart Sutra’ difficult. I think that is intentional as it pushes the mind towards silence, towards a  ‘knowing’ experience.. So I feel that its related to the reflections on the ‘blank canvas’

    The Heart Sutra

    The Bodhisattva of Compassion,
    When he meditated deeply,
    Saw the emptiness of all five skandhas (senses)
    And sundered the bonds that caused him suffering.

    Here then,
    Form is no other than emptiness,
    Emptiness no other than form.
    Form is only emptiness,
    Emptiness only form.

    Feeling, thought, and choice,
    Consciousness itself,
    Are the same as this.
    All things are by nature void
    They are not born or destroyed
    Nor are they stained or pure
    Nor do they wax or wane

    So, in emptiness, no form,
    No feeling, thought, or choice,
    Nor is there consciousness.
    No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;
    No color, sound, smell, taste, touch,
    Or what the mind takes hold of,
    Nor even act of sensing.

    No ignorance or end of it,
    Nor all that comes of ignorance;
    No withering, no death,
    No end of them.
    Nor is there pain, or cause of pain,
    Or cease in pain, or noble path
    To lead from pain;
    Not even wisdom to attain!
    Attainment too is emptiness.

    So know that the Bodhisattva
    Holding to nothing whatever,
    But dwelling in Prajna wisdom,
    Is freed of delusive hindrance,
    Rid of the fear bred by it,
    And reaches clearest Nirvana.
    All Buddhas of past and present,
    Buddhas of future time,
    Using this Prajna wisdom,
    Come to full and perfect vision.

    Hear then the great dharani,
    The radiant peerless mantra,
    The Prajnaparamita
    Whose words allay all pain;
    Hear and believe its truth!

    Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
    Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
    Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!”

    Into the gone, into the gone, into the gone beyond.
    Into the gone completely beyond (beyond movement, time, language, measurement, duality..) the other shore, awaken.


    Hi Peter

    I have almost died on more than one occasion. Once I wasn’t afaid, once I was. The second time I was afraid because it was slow and painful. I couldn’t walk or stand. The pain was indescribable and at the same time I wanted to die even though I was afraid because I wanted to put an end to the suffering. I was afraid because there were people I loved and things that I still wanted to experience. Even though I was slowly dying, I was happy because I had a life worth living for.

    The first time, I wasn’t afraid. I was happy and it happened quickly and painlessly. I thought this isn’t so bad. I could die without any regrets and not needing anything else from life. If I stayed or went it didn’t matter.

    I guess the older I got, the greedier I got. I wanted to experience, to love, to achieve. I guess you could call this identity. Or a future. An identity not yet formed. I wanted to enjoy the journey I was on with my partner, to become and build a future. I had goals.

    I have achieved those goals. I became who I wanted to be and now I have new goals, new wanting to become. A new future. The difference now is that I don’t want these things as fiercely. The people to protect and love are the most important now.

    A blank piece of paper was what God looked like to me as a child and rays of light beaming down from the sky, heaven. It is a beautiful thing to find joy in a canvas and awe in the light. We can lose sight of that sense of wonder as adults.

    Love and best wishes! ❤️🙏


    To spoil the secret of the blank white canvas would ruin the wonder and joy a child would experience.


    🙂  A ‘timing’ for everything…

    Blessed are the ‘Wonder-full’


    The heart sutra sounds like when one experiences the truth of one’s nature. One moves from living in the identity of this person to a point of view outside but a part of this life. Break thru the five skandhas. This identity is brought to life thru thoughts and constant renewing of the present experience. What one believes what one is comes from all the thoughts one has had. This includes memories. When one breaks thru this identity and can experience life from another point, The mind opens and understanding of this world comes rushing in. And as one practices more and more, one begins to live from that point. The results from living at that place, comes wisdom and compassion. There really is nothing special. Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. The only thing that arises from enlightenment is the wisdom and compassion one receives from living from another point.

    As a person who has looked at Dementia and some of its ramifications, memory is important to one’s identity. Losing memory, one loses where one comes from. Loses friends and family even while they stand next to them. Memories are great when they allow us the freedom to be who or what we want to be. But, they also hinder us if they are where we retreat to all the time.

    A blank white canvas indeed. $10,000 dollars? Not just for a blank white canvas but for the art that the artist provided in his presentation. Art is not just an object. It is the beauty the artist presents to its viewers. It makes us think and experience things differently than we did before. Red canvas is no longer blank cause it is red. A different way to look at life.


    Dear Peter:

    Thank you for the compliment. The Heart Sutra you quoted is indeed very related to the reflections of the Blank Canvas. The emptiness in the canvas (lack of pained form, colors, textures) and the emptiness talked about in the heart Sutra is a very calming reality for me, calming to my otherwise over-active brain. I can sense now, not what will be, but what is eternally (no time). Rushing to fill emptiness (with forms, colors, textures, sounds, flavors, fragrances) is suffering; Accepting emptiness is calming, it brings relief.

    I breathe in Emptiness.



    My understanding of the heart sutra is that it is an escoteric description of the deep meditation practice mentioned. It reminds me of a stillness meditation that I practice.


    Dear Helcat,

    That does sound true. But if one achieves stillness then what? It can’t be just to find the stillness. Something else has to arise from this not just stillness. Moving one’s center from this chaotic mind to the stillness should provide more than calm. Not that in practice, we look to achieve anything. And anything achieved would become meaningless unless we learn and understand the truth of the Buddha nature. That the thing that is me is the same thing that is you.

    I am sorry if I sound confused. Lately, anytime I wake in the night, I spend some time sitting up with my eyes closed and watching my breath. It doesn’t make for much sleep. But being retired, I don’t get up to go to a job. I get up to make family breakfast and lunch and dinner. Do laundry. Clean around the house. Feed the chickens. That time i spend just sitting is something I enjoy. Even though, I never remember how I got into a different position when I wake. Sometimes, I have woken up while still in the sitting position. Head slumped over.



    Hi Tommy

    I’m not sure. I am not an expert in meditation. I have just done a couple of small things. After no thoughts, there is no self. That is all I know.

    Beth Upton is a great source of knowledge on these things. She has some videos on YouTube.

    I just read a little about the Bodhisttava of Compassion, so I can guess about the goal of the meditation. He/She is to become a Buddha once they have resolved the suffering of every being on earth and allowed them to escape their own cycle of rebirth. To do that, everyone else must become a buddha first. Perhaps this meditation described is part of the process?

    You are right. I read that a monk once thought the goal was calmness and no thought and devoted his practice to that. One day he became so calm that he had no thought and found that he could no longer take care of himself, or feed himself and fell into a coma.

    I enjoy the stories of kings abdicating their throne to train under a Master. Seeking out and being okay with suffering. Toiling away as their servant.

    It sounds like you work hard for your family. You have earned your rest Tommy.

    Gosh I am falling asleep.

    Love and best wishes! ❤️🙏


    Dear Helcat,

    Thanks. Looked up Beth on Youttube.com. She is full of lots of information. Too much for me to comprehend. So, my head tends to bow out of such talks. I am a simple person. Not too smart and no head for so much information. I just get confused and lost in all that.

    In older days when monks travelled from one temple to another, battle of the Dharma talks were common. If the travelling monk can win the battle of the Dharma then they get to stay at the Temple for the night. If not then they must move on. So one day, a travelling monk arrives at this Temple. The Abbot is too busy to greet the travelling monk. So, he asked his disciple to greet the travelling monk. His disciple only has one eye from birth. And he is a rather large man. So, he goes to greet the travelling monk. The travelling monk greet the monk with a bow. And the battel begins in silence. First the traveling monk puts up one finger. The disciple puts up two fingers. The monk puts up three fingers and the disciple puts up his fist. The travelling monk quickly bows and leaves. The abbot after finishing his other business sees the monk and asked him what happened. The monk says that he put up one finger to show the one true Dharma. Then the disciple put up two fingers to show the duality of the world. The monk says he put up three finger to show the three jewels. The disciple then put up his fist to show everything is one. So, admitted losing and quickly left. The Abbot then sees his disciple and asked what had happened. The disciple says that the monk was rude and put up one finger to show that I only had one eye. I put up two fingers to congratulate him on his two eyes. The the monk insults me by putting three fingers up to show that together we have thee eyes. I was so angry I put my fist up ready to pound him. He then got up and rushed out. So what is the moral of the story? I do not know. I guess whatever is in your mind at the time is what makes up the world around you.

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