eaves-dropping on nature

Beginner’s Mind: some personal observations on the art of observing, from naturalist Thomas Eisner.

"eaves-dropping" on nature - Thomas Eisner


How is it, I am often asked, that I make discoveries? I always feel a bit awkward about answering the question, because I do not have a particular method. The truth is that I spend a fair amount of time looking around. I already knew as a boy that if I wanted to see things happen – if I wanted to win the revelatory lottery of nature – I had to buy a lot of tickets. So it was in my youth that I formed the habit of taking exploratory walks, whenever possible and as often as possible, for the sole purpose of “eaves-dropping” on nature. Naturalists thrive on such walks, driven by curiosity and the hope of witnessing chance events. Taken at face value, such events may not amount to much. But they may “connect” to what you already know, to previous observations stored away in your memory, and thus take on added meaning. There has to be a constant readiness to make such connections. Every tidbit of new information, no matter how trivial, has the potential of amounting to more than a speck of colour. Properly assigned to the pointillist canvas that constitutes your inner view of the natural world, the new speck adds dimension to the vision.

… I have been extremely lucky in having nature reveal itself on occasion through chance events in my presence. I can remember as if it were yesterday witnessing for the first time Utetheisa being cut from a spider web, or Chrysopa dressing itself as an aphid, or Ammophila carrying a “flower,” and I yearn for future occasions when I may again be granted unexpected glimpses into the workings of nature. One of the great joys of returning to your natural haunts time and again, is that you have the opportunity of grasping the broader image. Observations tend then to become cumulative, to be evocative and revelatory in ways that are not possible until you begin to feel at home in the area. For the naturalist, in fact, feeling at home means having achieved a biological appreciation of a region.

– Thomas Eisner
For the Love of Insects

what my eyes saw on the way

Frederick Franck - Mariakapel

In the silence of drawing
hidden, yet visible, in each face
I see the Face of faces,
that the plural of man
does not exist,
is our cruelest hallucination –
see that our Oneness is infinite differentiation,
that the pattern of the universe
and mine
are not-two,
that what lives in me
is the Tao
in which all lives.


Having become
all these faces, all these bodies,
a meadow, a flower,
a night moth and a cow,

– Frederick Franck, The Awakened Eye

Frederick Franck was one of my most treasured teachers. He taught me how to see, how to draw as though my life depended on it, and how to live with eyes wideawake.

My website the awakened eye is dedicated to him and his vision.
Frederick Franck’s to-do list
Frederick Franck, artisan

Drawing by Frederick Franck, Mariakapel

creativity will never make sense

Dharma Wheel

Naturalness, spontaneity, and playfulness are all aspects of the ordinary mind that catches a glimpse of the world of things just as they are.

To live this life fully means to see all of it.

The doorway to this experience is the creative process.  Please delve deeply into it.

Give it a chance to do what it is capable of doing.  Engage it fully with the whole body and mind.

If you do, sooner or later, this limitless way of being will be your own.

It will never make sense, and you’ll never be able to explain it to anybody, but you will experience it, and by so doing, you will make it real.

– John Daido Loori, The Zen of Creativity

John Daido Loori - Floating Rocks

Homage to John Daido Loori, who left us on Friday.

Gratitude for all that he shared with us as a fully human being, and taught us as a Zen Master. And for his inspiring insights into the creative process, shared in his books and revealed in his exquisite photography.

Photograph:  Floating Rocks, copyright John Daido Loori

For more on Daido Roshi, please visit his pages at the awakened eye website:
the zen of creativity
John Daido Loori, artisan

Frederick Franck’s to-do list

doveFFFrederick Franck, Dove

the promise of painting post reminded me of Frederick Franck’s to-do list.  He called it his 10 Commandments:

These Ten Commandments on seeing/drawing were revealed to me on a mountain, but also in a meadow, on a beach and even in the subway.  For their revelation did not come all at once, but in installments, as it were, over the years, and always while I was busy drawing, and invariably on holy ground.  But that may be because, while drawing, all ground is holy: unseparated from the Whole.

1  You shall draw everything and every day

2  You shall not wait for inspiration, for it comes not while you wait but while you work

3  You shall forget all you think you know and, even more, all you have been taught

4  You shall not adore your good drawings and promptly forget your bad ones

5  You shall not draw with exhibitions in mind, nor to please any critic but yourself

6  You shall trust none but your own eye, and make your hand follow it

7  You shall consider the mouse you draw as more important than the contents of all the museums in the world, for

8  You shall love the ten thousand things with all your heart and a blade of grass as yourself

9  Let each drawing be your first:  A celebration of the eye awakened

10  You shall not worry about “being of your time”, for you are your time

And it is brief

– Frederick Franck, The Awakened Eye

For more info about Frederick Franck visit the awakened eye website