Art School Teacher: On Tranquility and the Revolution

The creative habit class has drifted into meditation, deep listening, and compassion practice, so I check in with the students.  What do they want to do with the last five class periods?

Some say they like the path the class is on now.  One girl says it isn't what she expected.  What was she expecting?  "To learn how to take our ideas and make them into art," she replies and says she sees no connection between that and clearing your mind and doesn't understand how learning to be calmer can have a positive impact on your art.  In fact, she sees it as a detriment; that being agitated is what great art grows from.

She makes a good point.

What if, instead of teaching how to calm oneself, I taught how to get angry and channel that anger into art works?  What if that were the current vogue instead of meditation, yoga, mindfulness?

A revolution?

We are so comfortable and entertained and self-centered and well-fed that we have no need to cause a stir no matter how unjust things become, no matter how broken the systems grow.

Inevitably, there will be revolution.  And maybe those of us who have practiced being calm and balanced will be able to make wise decisions and to express complex ideas in understandable ways because we have learned how to listen, how to notice, how to create.

Or maybe we will starve to death.

It's days later when I think of a response to the student's concern:  Perhaps by practicing tranquility we are more receptive to the creative force.  Perhaps when we are tranquil, we can see our agitations more clearly.


  1. Great post! For me "the Revolution" is one of acceptance. When I accept my perspectives and circumstances as only one of many, I'm much less likely to inflict the tyranny of my self-will on others. When this is applied to the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, I've noticed a much greater ability to fix broken systems. It's counter-intuitive for me that "pushing-harder" is less effective.

  2. Thanks so much for reading and your thoughtful reply, Paul. Your insights on these matters are always appreciated!