"By living your life, by producing works of art, you contribute to the work of the collective awakening of our people. A bodhisattva is someone who is awake, mindful, and motivated by a desire to help others to wake up. The artist, the actor, the filmmaker, the novelist may be inspired by a desire to become a bodhisattva, helping with the awakening of the people, helping them to touch the seed of joy, of peace, of happiness in themselves, helping them to remove and transform the seeds of discrimination and fear and craving. The artist can do all this. If you are motivated by that desire, you will have so much joy and energy that fame and power will not appeal to you anymore. Nothing can be compared with that kind of joy, knowing that your life on Earth is beautiful and is helpful.
"One day in New York City I met a Buddhist scholar and I told her about my practice of mindfulness in the vegetable garden. I enjoy growing lettuce, tomatoes, and other vegetables and I like to spend time gardening every day. She said, 'You shouldn't spend your time growing vegetables. You should spend more time writing poems. Your poems are so beautiful. Everyone can grow lettuce, but not everyone can write poems like you do.' I told her, 'If I don't grow lettuce, I can't write poems.'
"When I'm taking care of the lettuce or watering my garden I don't think of poetry or writing. I focus my mind entirely on taking care of the lettuce, watering the vegetables and so on. I enjoy every moment and I do it in a mode of 'non-thinking.' It's very helpful to stop the thinking. Your art is conceived in the depths of your consciousness while you're not thinking about it. The moment when you express it is only a moment of birth, the moment you deliver the baby. For me, there must be moments when you allow the child inside you to grow, so you can do your best and your masterpiece can contain insight, understanding, and compassion.
"A work of art can help people understand the nature of their suffering and have insight into how to transform the negative and to develop the positive in themselves. Writing, making a film, creating a work of art can be an act of love. That act of love nourishes you and nourishes others. If you're happy, if you know how to live deeply every moment of your life, then deep understanding, joy, and compassion can come. Your art will reflect this understanding and will share it with others."