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Nov 22
Dharma Teachings
Picasso’s Picassos

Lakeside Geometry. Photo courtesy of Joey Johannsen

Lakeside Geometry. Photo courtesy of Joey Johannsen

From the column Dharma Snacks by Cynthia Kneen

There is a story about a collection of paintings by Picasso that Picasso kept for himself. One of them is very small, only 7 ¼ by 5 ½ inches. It is a very dark oil painting with a figure of a man in the corner wearing a dark hat and overcoat. When asked about it, Picasso said that once the painting was big, “really big, monumental,” and he gestured hugely with his arms. Then he said, “But that was long ago. Later I painted it over with other subjects many times, then cut it to pieces, and painted it again. This is all that remains. It is my father.”

I find the journey to live life in a meaningful way is like this story of Picasso’s painting. One’s vision deepens over time rather than diminishes, and the process of achieving its meaning isn’t linear. I suspect this is true for all human beings. Each of us lives our awareness from continuously shifting points of view. Like Picasso’s painting, you change your perspective on your life, change the colors, change the subject, cut it into pieces, and then paint it again. Nothing is really final. From one point of view your life looks like a series of continuous mistakes! Yet the hard work of your heart to bring your life’s meaning into focus makes the difference. Once you discover its heartfelt meaning, your life has stature. Then as you go about your everyday activity, the power and benefit of your actions increase immensely.

I love the Buddha. I love belonging to the family of basic goodness. Slowly, slowly, slowly, I love myself and others. How fortunate.


Cynthia Kneen is the author of Awake Mind, Open Heart: The Power of Courage & Dignity in Everyday Life (Avalon, 2002), and the CD course, Shambhala Warrior Training (Sounds True, 1996). Cynthia has taught Shambhala Buddhist programs throughout the mandala for over thirty years and is currently writing a book on business and dharma. Visit her website at www.cynthiakneen.com

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