DHARMA ART ~ DISCIPLINED PASSION
In Dharma Art (or genuine meditative art), there is no fear or worry about judgement or failure. You make something for the pleasure of making it and getting "blocked" is not an issue. An untrained person could produce a masterpiece if in the right state of mind but since making art takes skill, study, practice and discipline it might not happen all the time. As with other aspects of life, one might require a teacher or mentor to pass down knowledge and trade secrets and with practice, mastery is possible.
The key ingredient in Dharma Art is a sense of total self-confidence; a sense of ease and non-worry. This comes with the appreciation of how things are and expressing how you feel about it without any aggression or struggle. This is hard for many of us to imagine since we are often so wrapped up in what other people think about us and our work. Our whole creative life could be based on impressing or taking advantage of others, gaining recognition or fame, making money or beating out the competition. When we make art for these purposes, it is an aggressive act that robs us of the pleasure of self-discovery. Dharma art is sometimes described as a creative activity of non-aggression. In Dharma Art, you are always engaged in the process of self-discovery.
Appreciating things as they are is important when discussing Dharma Art. "Discovering the elegance in everyday life" is another way of putting it. It's not about production of art or showmanship or being the first to have some talent or idea. It's about one's state of mind. That's the first thing. A second thing is how can you organize your life so that you can afford to create beauty not at the expense or the suffering of others. Dharma Art is paying attention to reality; how things are arranged and prepared, acknowledging the work that goes into making something, rather than just making tons of paintings and composing lots of music. It's about learning how to live; how to eat, how to clean, how to work with your basic reality. It's not only learning how to take care of your tools, its learning how to take care of your mind.
"An artist takes great care of his tools, his brushes, his pens --he selects his material, his wood, clay, paper, etc. with close consideration as to what will provide the most responsive medium for his talents. Yet the fundamental tool, the mind is left wandering, undisciplined and full of conflicting desires. The mind is largely an unknown factor in the process of creation. It is necessary to be able to tune the mind to the basic life forces within and without and to be able to relax the mental processes so that the spontaneous creative impulses can come through clearly and honestly." - Yogi Bhajan, Master of Kundalini Yoga
Trying to overcome aggression is the main purpose of Dharma Art. In both Buddhist and Yogic practice, if your mind is preoccupied with aggression, you cannot function properly. If your mind is preoccupied with passion, you might have a chance. Passion is a heightened interest in the quality of something; you want to delve into it and explore every part of it, every possibility of it. This focus and concentration makes you forget your aggression for a while and its a pure, positive thing. When you are making art and you are interested in it and passionate about it, you feel like you are on a quest and are happy with the process. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, you will feel stuck and find a million reasons to be distracted. Passion in combination with discipline produces great results. When passion is undisciplined...well, that's another story.