In the West, most of us are born and raised with result oriented mentality. From childhood, we have been taught to work for the outcome, and we have been evaluated by adults with praise or displeasure. As we get older, the outcome gets judged, not only by others, but more severely by ourselves. We apply this mentality to everything we do, including our creativity. This approach to life gets challenged by eastern philosophies and arts.
The most important aspect of the Zen way of working is letting go of all expectations without caring about the outcome by seeing the subject matter as if it is being seen for the first time. The way to achieve that is to use techniques such as (breathing, grounding, and emptying the mind…) to bring oneself to the present moment. One evaluates the outcome, not by its likeliness to the subject matter, but by how connected one felt to the subject during the work. What’s interesting, is that the more one feels connected and is present during the process, the more one brings out the essence, the spirit of the subject matter, and thus a more successful result.
In my Oriental brush painting, Sumi-e classes, I start with a meditation and lead the students to get grounded, find their center, the quiet, still place, (“Wu” Chinese, “Mu” Japanese) from where they connect to every part of their body without attachment or thought. I lead them to feel the tip of the brush in that center, as part of their body. Painting without any expectation, is it easy?...Yes.....No, but very rewarding and life affirming.