Faith In Ourselves, Faith In Our Art
As artists, one thing we are often told by others is to “Have faith,” both in ourselves, and in our art. But in the face of self-criticism and doubt, faith often seems like a monumental task. Self-help books are no better, as they tell us to just “keep at it” and we can work through those doubts. But these doubts are real. The self-criticism is real. And all the monkey mind monsters that our own mind projects upon us are real.
The Buddha’s teachings direct us to analyze the mode of appearance, meaning how something appears to be, and the mode of underlying reality, meaning how something actually is—its true nature.
—Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, “The Path of Faith and the Path of Reasoning”
The things that often keep us from having faith are both real and unreal. The self-doubt that keeps whispering in our ears is real to us. The voice is loud and persistent. So how can we just ignore it?
Rather than ignoring it, we need to look at it objectively. One way is to write down what it is saying and try to be impartial towards it, not letting our emotions jump in and obscure the message. Emotions and self-doubt go hand in hand.
One way to counter this self-doubt is to ask ourselves what our own true feelings about this are. What do we really think and believe? Our own innate and deep seated beliefs will often counter what our monkey mind is telling us.
Another way is to look at what others are saying. If we've built a career and have a history of concerts, showings, exhibitions, etc., then there is most likely a history of positive comments on both us, and our art. And if we've made it this far, and have had any sort of success (the term, success, is itself a slippery slope and deserving of its own post), then we are not the impostor that our self-doubts are telling us we are.
Faith is vital, but the way in which one arrives at one’s faith is important. When faith arises as a result of analysis, it is much more stable, because that analysis will astutely detect and be able to resolve whatever doubts one might have.What Now?
—Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, ibid
Have faith in yourself.
Have faith in your art.
But don't have blind faith.
Have a type of faith built upon what is real, not what is believed to be real.