Show Me Your Original Face (II) —

Different strokes for different folks, yes —

And perhaps different images to stimulate different folks’ imaginations. I chose Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror, almost against my will. It somehow spoke to me of the riddle posed by Yeats’ poem and the Zen koan which it is a commentary upon. But Picasso isn’t to everyone’s taste, and so I’m reposting the poem and koan with another image, this time a painting by the Venetian Giovanni Bellini, whose madonnas are among the most beautiful ever painted. Maybe Bellini’s looker into the mirror will better stimulate your own reflection:

Giovanni Bellini, Woman Looking in Mirror

If I make the lashes dark

And the eyes more bright

And the lips more scarlet,

Or ask if all be right

From mirror after mirror,

No vanity’s displayed:

I’m looking for the face I had

Before the world was made.

—-W.B. Yeats

(A classic Zen koan is,  Show me your original face, the face that you had before you were born. Sometimes framed as, the face that you had before your father and mother were born. Have you ever seen your original face? To glimpse it, I imagine, might be like coming home. )

This entry was posted in Etcetera, Poetry, Zen and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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