A boy who liked drawing pictures

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Jan 24, 2014 00:38
There was a small boy, who liked drawing. He was very focused and happy, and kept drawing pictures on and on. His mum came to see his drawings, and told him, "Your drawings are very good! Well done." Hearing this remark, he was apparently delighted. Mum appreciated his drawings!

After that he drew pictures even more. However, when he showed his works to his mum, she was a bit bored this time, and didn't praise him very much.

Now he frantically drew pictures. He didn't look happy any more while drawing. His joy of drawing had gone, but he still kept drawing. His drawings had lost their original beauty. He was able to get enough appreciation from his mum....

Originally, he was drawing for nothing. He drew pictures, because he liked doing so.

His mother inadvertently ruined his original passion for drawings by saying that his drawings were good. After this, he drew pictures to get "reward" from his mother. His drawing had become merely means for reward. At the same time, he lost his joy and his drawings lost their beauty.

This real episode is introduced in a book written by Haruchika Noguchi (野口晴哉, 叱り方褒め方), a seitai practitioner. What was wrong in this example, then? You must be wondering. I did, when I read it.

Noguchi's answer is that instead of acknowledging the outcome of one's actions, you should appreciate the "angle" of his/her heart.

This "angle" of heart is rather hard to digest. By the word "angle", what he means is probably that there must be a reason or drive why one has started an action in the first place. If there is no "angle" at all, nothing would happen. There must be a direction in one's heart. Then you identify it, and acknowledge it. One of the good examples was to say, "You like drawing, don"t you?"

In Japanese, he used the phrase 心の角度. This can be translated into the angle of mind or the angle of heart. I chose heart, because heart is something special whereas mind is often associated with ego and reward.

This episode is about a small child, but the same principle may work for grown-ups. I'm sure you can find a plenty of examples of people who do things for reward without having joy. It's called operant conditioning. This way you can control animals and human beings.

In contrast, drawings for nothing is often associated with joy. I think this is pretty much what Zen monks are aiming to achieve in their daily lives.