Richard Shilling’s galleries of Land Art sure are thought-provoking.
When I was in university, a Buddhist artist came to my college as an artist-in-residence for a few weeks. Our college was built on the bank of a river, and every day he would get up at dawn and build a rock garden or rake a sand maze. By the afternoon it had washed away. The student newspaper interviewed him, and I remember reading a comment he made about how the process can be just as important as the product—and that, in fact, this was a prevaling Eastern attitude. That statement made an impression on me; my attitude toward process and product became more balanced (and has stayed so, I think). We are, in the West, perhaps too focused on the results and don’t take time to “smell the roses”; yes, it’s a common lament.
A friend of mine, another Buddhist, once told me that the Buddha advocated an even-keeled approach to life: that we should not allow the circumstances of life to upset us or to excite us, in either sorrow or joy. Perhaps he was referring to these teachings:
Withdrawing completely from things that excite us, our mental disturbances slowly decline.
And ridding our mind of directionless wandering, attention on virtue will surely increase.
Regardless of how long spent living together, good friends and relations must some day depart.
Our wealth and possessions collected with effort are left fare behind at the end of our life.
Our mind, but a guest in our body`s great guest house, must vacate one day and travel beyond. (source)
In response, I mentioned a similar Baha’i principle: that one should practice moderation in all things. The words I should have had on hand (or in mind) come from Bahá’u’lláh’s Hidden Words:
O SON OF MAN! Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not, and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not, for both shall pass away and be no more.
—Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words (Arabic #52)
This is not to say that we shouldn’t feel pain or—God forbid—joy; let’s not be stoics. It’s simply a reminder about priorities: this Hidden Word reminds me, among other things, that our individual feelings are not the centre of the universe, and we shouldn’t get attached to that which might be fleeting.
Now that I’ve gone back and given the post a title, I’m thinking that evolution is one of nature’s most amazing creative processes—but I guess that’s a topic for another day.