A Parable: The Artist

A Metaphor for a Parable

A Metaphor for a Parable

JOHN DAY DAM, WA

August 4, 2016 5:22 PM

(From the book in progress.)

There’s a reason that history’s great spiritual teachers often used metaphors and parables in their teachings. The reason is: This stuff is really hard to explain.

Simply put, mental concepts—words and definitions—can’t explain what lies beyond mental concepts. And practically all things spiritual lie beyond mental concepts.

So how can I be expected to explain the relationship of the Nine Aspects of Being to you-whatever-that-is? How can I conceptualize into words what lies beyond concepts?

Attempting to explain the unexplainable is an age old problem. Over the thousands of years of trying, spiritual teachers seem to agree that there is only one, surefire way to do it:

You make something up.

Not a lie per se, but a parable

Once upon a previous lifetime you were an Artist. An Artist with a special power. You could paint an entire painting in less than a second. Beautiful paintings, powerful paintings, and yes, more often than not, somewhat mundane paintings. But you were fast. You could create thousands of paintings in a day.

When you first started out, you only had access to three colors. But you were fast and you were good and for years you made thousands—millions—of paintings with just these three colors.

Then one day you met another Artist, and she was fast and she was good, but she had six colors. Your three colors and three entirely new ones!

Before you were happy with your three colors, but suddenly they were lacking, kind of dull and boring, and you wanted the new colors—you coveted them—and though you were tempted to kill the other Artist for them, you realized that this wasn’t a bible parable so you simply asked her for them instead.

And she said, “No. These are my paints. These are my colors.”

And you thought, this sickly sweet and PC parable be damned, I’m going to kill her and take them anyway, but before you could finish the thought she said, “But, I’ll show you how to make these colors.”

And it was good. And you were fast. And you painted a hundred paintings that day with, not three, but six wonderful colors. The world was your oyster… until the very next morning.

The very next morning you met another Artist. An old man, wise and sagely, and he had nine colors—the six colors you had and three entirely new ones!

Having learned your lesson, you asked in a sweet and humble voice, “Oh great and wise Artist, could you teach me how to make your three special colors?”

And the great and wise Artist said, “No. I could… but I won’t.” And he said nothing more.

So you thought about killing him and taking them anyway and the Old Artist said, “Don’t even think about killing me and taking them anyway, because you’ll never learn how to make them again once they are gone.”

And you were vexed and you were frustrated and you thought about killing him anyway when the Old Artist said, “But before you kill me anyway, know this: I will teach you the secret of the final three colors when you are ready. You’ve only had the six colors for a day. Come back when you are an expert with them and I’ll teach you the last three. Otherwise you’ll just make a mess of your art… and a mess of your life.”

So you practiced and you practiced and you painted a thousand—ten thousand—new paintings with not three but six colors and when you were ready, when you had the six colors down, you came back to the Old Man and he taught you how to make the last three colors.

So what is the relationship between you and the Nine Aspects of Being? What is the relationship between you and the three tiers of three Aspects each?

You are the Artist. The Aspects are your colors. You create a new painting in every moment of your life. Sometimes you go through phases, favoring one Aspect over the others, but you are not an Aspect. Nor even a combination of them.

You—whatever that is—are the Artist. The Artist who creates a new painting every moment of your life.

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9 thoughts on “A Parable: The Artist

  1. Parables do help with the inexpressible but most likely will be misunderstood, or worse, misinterpreted. Words/ language represent thoughts which are subjective, inaccurate and fleeting.
    There is also direct transmission, realization, awakening (ie: passing of the flame) via stillness of being. Good example would be the Flower Sermon, in which Śākyamuni Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) transmits direct prajñā (wisdom) to the disciple Mahākāśyapa.
    In the story, Śākyamuni gives a wordless sermon to his disciples (sangha) by holding up a white flower. No one in the audience understands the Flower Sermon except Mahākāśyapa, who smiles. Within Zen, the Flower Sermon communicates the ineffable nature of tathātā (suchness) and Mahākāśyapa’s smile signifies the direct transmission of wisdom without words. Śākyamuni affirmed this by saying:

    I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvelous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, the subtle [D]harma [G]ate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. This I entrust to Mahākāśyapa.[1]

    In the bible:
    Psalm 46:10 King James Version (KJV)

    10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

    Basically the less said, the better. We (everyone) can point the way for each other, but each individual must experience the wordless word, gateless gate etc. for himself. Keep passing that flame of love Wayne. 🙂

    • Ergo an original photo, directly transmitted from lived experience, in practically every article I post.

      “Direct transmission” is too subtle for most though, but it’s powerful if one is ready to see.

      • I do love and appreciate every one of your photos. It captures your subtle, ineffable experience within that timeless moment, and shares your growth as an awakened being. Direct transmission from teachers, nature, etc is always available to every one of us, if only we still our minds long enough to listen and comprehend….. “ah this”. <3

  2. Loved the parable 🙂 Sweet. I could not understand the significance of the artist intention to kill each time to gain those colors, does killing intention signify anything particular ?

    • Part dark humor (I used the bible, but I could just as well have used the Torah, Gita, or Koran), but also Man’s (Human tier, 3 colors) affinity for using violence to solve his problems. Even when the young Artist met the old, wise Artist, the young one only had the six colors (Trans-Human tier) for a single day.

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