Wild Trails

| June 19, 2012

There was a painter who had made a scroll of rice paper, and having laid it gently upon a frame he proceeded to grind a few particles of various pigment in a set of small dishes; applying ever so gentle dabs of water to his brush, he dipped the bristles in the dust and applied but a touch to the parchment in front of him.


Two students came in, and quietly sat behind him; observing his work.


They both observed that as the master’s brush dipped, and dabbed with ever so nearly, nigh barely noticeable touches. Every touch of pigment would flow down the scroll’s surface in wild trails, blotting out, mixing, and meshing with the elegant blots the master had made before.


One student spoke up.


“Ah! But master! Your previous work is being overcome by the other, your work is ruined by the trails of paint. Alas, a pity!”


The master, of course, shushed the student and proceeded. Touch, after touch, blot after blot, he pressed on; letting the trails flow wild.


The other student spoke up.


“Ah! But master! The trails are mixing and ruining the original colours you put down, how are you able to paint if your colours are not being continued as you laid them down originally? Alas, the painting is not following your designs.”


The master, of course, shushed the student and proceeded. Touch, after touch, blot after blot, he pressed on; letting the trails flow wild.


The one student spoke again.


“Master, these wild trails are so useless, why do you make such a meaningless work? It is wasteful!”


The master ignored him, and continued to paint.


The painting seemed a mess, full of blots, and trails of wild, meandering colour; a great and ignoble mess. Nothing seemed good about it, the whole lot of it seemed a failed, ruinous mass of chaos. And then the master took the scroll, rolled it up still wet, and dripping, and took it away with him to the garden. His students followed.


“Master!” They exclaimed. “Master! Your painting, now it is surely ruined!”


The master ignored them, and carefully unfurled the scroll upon the freshly raked sand, flipped it upside down, and beheld his work in the brilliance of the sunlight.


His painting was full of brilliant colour, and all the wild trails had formed mountains, and trees, rivers and lakes, full of cherry blossoms and lotus; and birds flew all about the clouds riddled with stars.


The one student spoke.


“Ah! I see master, the wild trails were there to form the rest, the meaning of it must be in the whole, in the finished work.”


And the other student said.


“Ah! But what I see is that the meaning was in the blots he originally placed, the rest was just the emanation of its original virtue.”


The master stood, and replied to them both.


“You are both wrong, and you are both right. The meaning of the painting is in both the whole, and in the initial conditions. This is where you are both correct, but where you are both wrong is in forgetting the wild trails in themselves as being meaningful. It was not just the finished work that gave the trails meaning, it was the very virtue of their being which I purposed in their wildness to beautify, but also purposed to be. And as for the blots themselves, yes it is true the rest was an emanation of its origin, but the emanations themselves were meaningful, and the final work was meaningful in itself.
It is neither in part, nor in whole, that the meaning is found. But both part, and whole are meaningful, both origin and fruition are meaningful; not by virtue of the whole, or by virtue of the part. But by virtue that both part, and whole, both origin and fruition…Are.”

The students bowed, and went on their way.

By, Matthew Lewis


Category: Creations inspired by Creation

About the Author ()

I am Matthew Lewis, I have an interest in poetry, and philosophy; and in all manner of things beautiful, profound, and lovely. Beauty and elegance are virtues worthy of all art.

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