Artist Eden Maxwell’s Life Purpose is Dharma in Daily Life

A gift might be innate, but not inevitable. Many are called; few choose to go.—Eden Maxwell.

Are you bringing your gifts to fruition?

Clif Johnston hosts Eden Maxwell today on his Zen Junk Tumblelog. Click here to read a comprehensive interview.

Eden Maxwell, author of “An Artist Empowered: Define and Establish Your Value as an Artist—Now” is soulful and his soul reaches out to include art, writing, dharma, character, consciousness, culture, intuition, and evolution. His book “An Artist Empowered: Define and Establish Your Value as an Artist” asks three core questions to the artists in any discipline:

1. Why am I an artist?
2. Where does my art come from?
3. What is the intrinsic value of my art?

By linking a sense of Dharma with our creative lives, we can more easily and deeply answer these three core questions. I invited him to share more about his understanding on the multiple meanings of Dharma and how these link to the creative life (over time) and to our daily lives.—JGR

Riehlife: Tell us about dharma and how dharma connects with art. First of all, what does Dharma mean?

Eden Maxwell: Although the Sanskrit word Dharma has no precise equivalent in English, it does have three main meanings in Buddhism.

1) Reality or Truth (as it is, i.e., not relative)
2) Teaching
3) With a small “d”–the elements of experience

When I combine all three meanings, it adds up to my purpose in life, the reason for which I have come into this world. For what good are these definitions individually, if not to fulfill your mission on Earth?

So, in this context, I use dharma to mean your purpose in life.

Magic Couple by Eden Maxwell
Magic Couple, 17″ x 14″, by Eden Maxwell

Riehlife: Why do you write about dharma? Why is this important for the artist?

Eden: There is no more fundamental word than dharma, or why you have come into this world. So, its smart for the artist to confront this concept.

Why are you an artist? One way or another, the answer to this question is liberating, as it lays the groundwork for everything else: dharma realized, original work, strength to persevere, and understanding that, as the master said, it is better to live in fulfillment than in hope. If you, the artist, don’t know why you’re here, plenty of other folk will be happy to supply the answer for you and this is shaky ground.

Riehlife: How did you feel when you first encountered the word “Dharma”?

Eden: When I came across the word dharma many years ago, I immediately embraced it with a feeling, knowing this word articulated and embodied my quest for meaning.

Riehlife: How did your understanding and appreciation of this word grow?

Eden: As time passed, I realized dharma had been a good word choice since finding your purpose is an act of intuition based on firsthand experience, which is also the source of great art.

Riehlife: How does Dharma bring your soul mission into focus?

Eden: Although many people in the West eventually reflect about their purpose in life, it is most often relegated to a yearning, a memory. Dharma is an action word; it is something you do, not think about, or analyze.

In our culture, we [tend to] choose precut careers from a menu instead of embarking upon a soul mission. The industrial age needed human cogs on the assembly line, not people thinking about dharma; most of those who did consider and question meaning in life were the artists.

Riehlife: Do all artists fulfill their destinies?

Eden: A gift might be innate, but not inevitable. Many are called; few choose to go.

Riehlife: Do you have a daily spiritual practice co-existent with your art practice?

Eden: To co-exist in this regard is a good way of putting it. Spirit, art, and truth are aspects of awareness, like facets on a gemstone; if you’re aware of one, the other two are nearby.

Riehlife: How do you practice in daily life?

Eden: My appreciation of the transcendent is connected to everything that I do–from painting, writing, or washing the dishes. So, I don’t think, “Well, now I’m in spiritual mode, grunt work mode,” or any other mode. It’s all one meditation along my timeline strung together second by second through awareness, which is a function of one true freedom—self-discipline. This approach is easy to understand, yet difficult to believe until you prove it to yourself.

Riehlife: Speak about your sense of presence.

Eden: Being present is a form of prayer, regardless of the activity. Since we can’t compartmentalize awareness or schedule it in your appointment book, we appreciate the need for remaining vigilant–so we don’t succumb to the insidious traps of ego, and suffer the consequences.

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