The Flower with four leaves

…a little story about being, choice, and awareness…
Once, there was a big tree. This tree had many flowers. They were beautiful white and all of them had four leaves. All but one. This one flower had five leaves.
The fact that this single flower had five leaves instead of four made it very special. It made this flower different from all the other flowers. At least, that’s what she made herself believe in the end. At first she didn’t know that she was different. She was just there, together with all the other flowers, being a flower and not aware of any sort of difference. But this big tree had an amazing ability. It was giving each flower the ability to think.
So, these flowers were all thinking the same thing: they thought they were beautiful. They all thought that their leaves were the most beautiful. That the yellow buds where complimenting the ivory white leaves and that having four leaves was the best amount a flower could have.

And this one flower with five leaves? She was looking just the same. She as well had a beautiful yellow bud and her leaves were beautiful ivory white as well. She had even five of them. But for all the other flowers this was strange. Why did she have five leaves? Why not four? And why was she different? They didn’t understand. So, they started to talk about her. They were telling each other that she was strange and awkward looking. And sometimes, after a period of hurtful silence, they laughed out loud and made jokes about her. Only because this flower had five leaves instead of three.

You can imagine what happens next. This flower started to feel sad and alone. She didn’t understand why all the other flowers didn’t like her. She didn’t do anything wrong.
More and more she started to close her leaves. Why wouldn’t she? Every time she would open her leaves, all she was getting were jokes and laughter from the other flowers.
And so, after some time, this flower became so sad that it started to wish that it was just like all the other flowers. She didn’t want to feel this. She wanted to feel loved. She wanted to be part of the rest. She wanted to be just white with four leaves instead of five.
And after some time she decided to change something about herself. Because she was now convinced that she was not beautiful. She was not like the others and therefor not as beautiful as they where. Now, she would make herself more beautiful. So, one night, she took all her courage and changed the colour of her five leaves from white to pink. It was really beautiful indeed. The flower was hoping that all the other flowers would see it and would find it so beautiful that they would love her and accept her. But instead, when the other flowers woke up the next morning and saw the new, pink leaves from this special flower, they started to laugh even louder. They were saying it was ridiculous. Why would she draw even more attention to herself? She was already weird. This was hurting the flower very much. She didn’t understand. Why would all these flowers be so mean? Why couldn’t they just be nice to her?
She became so sad and felt so alone that she closed her leaves for three days. Even on a beautiful sunny day, she didn’t want to open her leaves. She could hear the flowers around her chat and laugh, but was too afraid to open herself again.
Then, one night, she did something very daring. Something so drastic that all the other flowers would see that she is just like them! At midnight, when all the flowers were closed and asleep, she painfully forced one of her five leaves to fall off. It was hurting a lot. It was, as if she took a piece from herself, and threw it away. Silently, and with great sorrow, she watched how her leaf fell to the ground.

The next morning, when all the flowers woke up and started to open themselves for the first sunlight, she was full of anticipation to see if the flowers would notice what she did. And believe me, they did. They saw it. All the flowers were looking at that one leaf lying on the floor. All the flowers where watching her not knowing whether she did this on purpose or if it was an accident. Now she was the same. Just like them. There was no more difference between them and her. Immediately they became all very, very silent. It was as if they lost their voices. Not one of these flowers dared to see a word.

Then, something very special happened. From one moment to the next all the flowers started to lose their leaves. The floor beneath the tree became all white from all the leaves that were falling down. It was a real spectacle to see. For several minutes it was raining beautiful white leaves. It was a sight to see. But now, all the flowers were leafless. All but one! One flower did not lose her leaves. This flower, whom desired more than anything to be accepted, to be just like the other so she could feel loved, was the only one left with four leafs. She stood out. Again. She became special. Again!

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Selfish in Nature

We are in nature selfish.

I wrote an article before on egocentric and selfishness. But as you can see I found it necessary to elaborate on this subject.

One of the first things we learn as we grow up from toddler to adolescence to adult is that we shouldn’t be selfish. We should think of others first before we may think of ourselves. We all know the sweet selfishness of the young toddlers when they take whatever they want, don’t want to share and make a whole commotion when another child is taking away their toy. And then we, the adults, do our utmost best to convince this little child, which has no clue what so ever on what you’re talking about, that it is not nice if you are not sharing. Of course we believe we do this with the best intentions and with the convincement that we are making a better person out of this child. It’s for his/her own good and benefit.
While for some part this is true, the intention can be sincere, most often the true motivation for adjusting this behaviour comes from our own childhood where we were being taught that sharing is a must and not liking that someone is taking away your toy is bad. Throughout our lives we are being believed, taught and convinced that selfishness is a bad thing. People are being praised, idolised because of their evidently selflessness while others are virtually being out casted for their supposing acts of selfishness.
And although, again, the intention for this believe might be sincere and coming from a good and healthy idea, the outcome is rather different from an actual lived attribute that is fully understood.

It is true that selfishness can be shaped in any form you want. It is true that you can use selfishness to practice an egocentric lifestyle. But what about self-love? Is self-love evenly to selfishness? I would like to say no but can imagine there is some clarification needed.
When you do a quick research about the meaning of selfishness, egocentric, self-centred or even narcissism, you will soon find that all these terms are described as a characteristic that most people would like to avoid or at least not to be judged on.
The consequences of this division, this need of classification of characteristic attributes, is that pretty everything is quickly thrown on this stack of interpretations.
From this stack I would like to take this one cart; self-love.

True love comes from loving yourself first.
Does this sound familiar? It’s a phrase you hear often these days. On social media for sure you’ll find that one of your friends has posted a beautiful photo with a similar text in it. Loving your self is a must these days. Gosh, there is a predicament. Love yourself but at the same time you need to avoid being selfish.
honestly, I don’t care much about all the designations. I do care, though, that you might feel obliged to hold back on loving yourself just for the sake of not being labelled selfish.
Self-love is a virtue. A self-given quality! Isn’t that a beautiful phrase? Self-given quality.
It already makes me happy by saying it.
But what does self-love mean? For sure it doesn’t mean that you put your own interest above others. Although sometimes you need to do so. And here we have to go back to the previously mentioned designations.

It is in no way possible to distinguish human behaviour in any sort of classifications. When you choose to live on this planet, you did so with the consciousness of freedom. Free in making choices, free in interpretation and free in how and what things mean to you. Classification, uniformity or designations are tools to make things understandable. They are not, by all means, laws to live by. All the words in the category selfish, egocentric, etc. have a general given explanation. Not to give you an ultimate law of how it is but to generally explain what is meant with using these words. It is so important to discover your own conclusion, your own meaning to certain given qualities. Such as self-love. You have an enormous valuable, rich and elaborate dictionary to your disposal, called ‘your heart’. If from anything you want to know whether feel true about it, whether it is something honest to you or a given truth, ask your heart. Feel what your heart tells you, for trust me it will not come to you in beautiful intelligent phrases that you can understand using your brain. It is that soft tone of heart, that utterly pure but oh so serene sensation that you get when being on the right path. That feeling of joy that you only experience when you speak your truth.
These are all forms of expressing self-love. It can include as many different ways of expressing as there are people. There is no one way. There is only your way!
Self-love can mean that you give yourself the liberty to make mistakes. To fender through life never really knowing who you are or what you want from life. It can include that you willingly and consciously choose to live alone. That you deliberately decide to think of yourself before others just for the sake of learning to love yourself. It honestly is beautiful to explore the love for yourself. Give yourself room, give yourself ability and perhaps for most; give yourself the pleasure of making mistakes. As I mentioned before in previous post, you have nothing to live up to. There is absolutely nothing you have to achieve! Nothing you have to earn or do before you can be what you want to be.
You are already complete!

WHY JOY (IN PAINTING) IS SO IMPORTANT

Several times during art class I tell my students how important it is to have fun in what they’re doing. I thought I could elaborate on this a bit. 
Often, and this doesn’t only occurs with beginners, people who paint find a moment where they sense that they are stuck. 

This can happen because of not understanding the technique, blocked by trying to much to understand what it is that they are painting or by being convinced that they just can’t do it. 

It is true, and I would be the last one to say it’s not, that getting a decent sense of technique, knowledge on material and to know at least the basics on what paint and medium does while working with it, is inevitable for learning the art of painting. With everything you wish to achieve there comes a time you will have to be in the learning seat to fill your self with any given and available knowledge on what it is that you want to achive. 

And overcoming that feeling of being stuck, being blocked is one of them and it is rather easy to do. 

Painting should be a joy. The whole process should fill you with happiness, joy. How many times did you experienced this feeling that you completely lost track of time, forgot where you are or who you are and was absorbed by the process of painting? 

And how many times did you experience that you where blocked? Couldn’t get what you wanted, seemingly having totally lost the ‘touch’ in painting that the best thing would be to throw that painting out? 

Both are magical moments that with a paradoxale twist are entwined together. 

But how do you get yourself (back) in that zone of enjoying the whole process? 

For one thing by focussing on the process only. Not on what it has to become. Not on how detailed it has to be and not on how many more layers, time and effort it needs before it’s perfect. 

No! You will get there anyway. Don’t rush yourself by focussing on the irrelevant stuff. Focus on what gives the most pleasure, the most joy: In this case Painting!!

But it is with all things in life. 

I know that when you are learning it might feel that this natural state of being in the flow and enjoying the fact that you don’t have to think about what the best approach is for this particular subject you want to paint, is hard to reach. But it isn’t. It isn’t your knowledge that will give you joy. It isn’t the experience that will give you joy. It is your own mindset that makes you choose. So choose to focus only on the process of painting. And this doesn’t mean that you don’t have study hard to gain the appropiate know how, this means that this process includes the studies you make to learn, to make something your own or to understand matter. All those things should be done with the joy of the process. 

It is the same with drawing an object. Once you try to interpretate the object as something you can understand logically you will start to make weird mistakes. But once you let this interpretation go and just look, you will amaze yourself by drawing exactly what you see. 
So go out there and have fun! Enjoy whatever it is you’re doing!

Really…!!! Do it!!

Right and wrong

An article written….

Last week I was being interviewed about an interesting topic: “Jesus”.This interview took place as part of a documentary. The focus was to get different kind of perspectives together about Jesus. 

During this interview an interesting sub-topic appeared (which couldn’t be attended accordingly due to a lack of relevancy to the subject) that I would like to address here.

In previous post I mentioned it as well but now I thought it be more relevant to write about it.

From the moment we hit this world as a new born we immediately are confronted with the sense that we have to make choices between one thing and another. But it doesn’t stop there. The ability to make a choice is an utmost important, valuable and conscious created ability and attribute for us to re-invent the experience of love. 

But we created this world so far that it has an immense strong distinction between things that are considered to be right and things that are considered to be wrong. 

To some point of perspective this sense of difference is inevitable to fully experience a linear reality experience. It gives the ability to experience the full possibility of choice making and to have the possibility to get an unlimited variety in how to experience one single moment in an unlimited amount of different ways. 

But an important element, call it insight, is almost purposely or consciously forgotten in this process of experiencing all this wonder. It is the inner knowing that in the root of our being this sense of difference, this separation and sense of right and wrong, does not exist. 

It feels almost impossible to put this “knowing” in words because this “knowledge” comes from a source where there is absolute no separation. How does one translate something which is shapeless, formless and consist utterly out of energy? Thank the universe there is no right or wrong way to do this 🙂

All is one. Including our lives and experiences now. And yet within this linear live we created for ourselves, on one hand it is imperative that we experience this sense of right and wrong, and on the other hand we need to remember what we are and merge it all together as to come to the point that we fully see, feel and experience that all is indeed one. It is a splendid paradox in grandeur. 

 

We are more than just this physical body. We are one with the source. Not subjects to or children from the source. No. We are part of it in the same way that a drop of water is the same as the sea. On its own it might have a partial different structure but when back in the sea it is the sea. 

When you realize this and feel it in your being you can do nothing but feel the joy and laugh about it…about everything. Because then you realize how insignificant, laughable, hilarious and beautiful our reality really is. 
So….right and wrong? Yes and no?

I leave it open. Realizing that nothing is fixed, including the concept of right and wrong, might give you a sense of freedom, an insight in how your reality is formed and how you move in this. 

As I often tell my students in art class; “There is no right or wrong way to do something. Try not to focus on how to achieve your goal but only on what you want and enjoy doing it. The process of doing knows very well how to do it or how to get where you want to be.”
Enjoy!