1.2
August 1, 2016

Inner Graffiti: Reality is an Acquired Taste. {Photos}

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

**Author’s note: The dharma and graffiti share mysterious and revolutionary qualities. Graffiti words appear much like the sign posts of self, reactivity and emotions. They also evoke the moments of serendipity that come with Buddhist practice. Noticing graffiti (most people don’t) has also confirmed for me the power of attention.

.

Reality is an acquired taste.

Anyone who’s worked through an addiction knows this, as recovery is basically the process of learning to find juiciness in what was previously not good enough and needed to be supplemented. Being in recovery, one also learns that the whole world is tripping.

We all go around basically looking for a high or the reward of a special experience—all the time. Whether it’s our next espresso, a hot girl walking by or even a really wholesome compliment, we spend a disconcerting amount of time searching our environment for a reward, noticing little else.

We completely ignore or feel total apathy towards most of the information in our environment.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Whether we’re in recovery or just working on it in our practice, letting up on the chase for rewards becomes its own strange trip. All the attention that used to go after rewards, now has time and space to notice other stuff—and some of it is just plain dope!

I first started noticing graffiti when I lived at my old place. Gazing out my window, I could make out the word Peace spray-painted on the parapet of a distant building. I started noticing Peace scrawled around town, either in marker or paint.

This came at a time when the whole rewards game was wearing thin for me. Seeing Peace in such odd places made me wonder about it, both as a concept and a tag.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

The graffiti artist and their tags make an unusual pair. Unlike a traditional artists and works of art, the graffiti writer is an anonymous hand that temporarily borrows a canvas. Their work cannot be bought or sold and is likely to disappear sooner rather than later.

Many people probably assume that most graffiti is some sort of John Hancock type name-writing. While graffiti as art form started out that way, nowadays writers explore syntax, line, color, perception and even spiritual concepts—just like artists working in any other medium. Unlike other artists however, graffiti writers do so in a creative space where there is no Self.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

The old place got too expensive, so I moved to a new place. I guess all the other writers had gotten evicted too, because the new place was all tagged up just like the old place. Peace was there, only Peace had changed. Peace was big, colorful and all over town.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Like graffiti, mindfulness has impressive dispersal. It has seeped into all kinds of nooks and crannies of our culture, from education to the defense industry. We also now have what appear to be Buddhist taggers. At first, their work appears out of the blue.

It’s like when we first Sit down to meditate…

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

We just Sho Up—we LookListen, Stay and Touch into what is happening.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Out of nowhere we notice a View or a Mood.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

At first, it’s weird—the shift away from ourselves as the Doer in the perpetual mode of React. But as the laser-like focus on our Drama fades, other parts of our environment come into more focus. What we used to ignore as a blighted desert lacking any reward, now becomes evolving landscape of strange reminders and Omen.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

When I first started noticing and documenting graffiti, I felt that the Universe was posing a question about meaning in my life. Like a Zen koan, the writing was a puzzle or riddle that asked, What is this? And Why is it here?

As I struggle with seemingly insurmountable habits of mind and body, how am I to understand the word Stop when it appears one morning on a fence down the block. I guess everything really is teaching us, as the Buddhist monk Ajahn Cha once said.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Perhaps the hardest part of just accepting reality as it is, is this question of: “Well, what do I get for forgoing the reward?” or “What’s my reward for not chasing after rewards all the time?”

Then riding my bike, I coast by the word Depth or a delivery truck passes showing me a Path.  

Virtue appears while I wait for the light, having taken the back-way home to avoid old routines.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Like graffiti, the objects of our awareness are anonymous and ephemeral. We cannot own them nor conclusively determine where they came from.

The Shapes, Images, thoughts and feelings will all disappear. We will look and they will be gone.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

All that is left is Being Aware and Love.

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

Marilyn Browning Vogel's photo (not for re-use) www.plucknluck.com

 

~

Author: Marilyn Browning Vogel

Images: Author’s own

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Read 1 Comment and Reply
X

Read 1 comment and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Marilyn Browning Vogel