Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pulling Together

Giving Thanks

“Gratefulness is not the result of happiness. It is the cause of happiness.”
Brother David Stendl-Rast

Gratitude is part of the shared territory of all religion. It acknowledges our dependence on other people and systems of support we forget in our illusion of independence. I use
“ The Five Prostrations” taught by Thich Nhat Hanh whenever I find myself in a dark cloud of feeling I can’t shake. I offer you my paraphrase of it in the spirit of the holiday.
----In gratitude I bow down to my biological ancestors, (to my parents and grandparents and brother, and aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews and in-laws) who connect me to the chain of human manifestation.
----In gratitude I bow down to my spiritual ancestors, (to Jesus and the Buddha, Ram Dass and Krishnamurti, Lao Tzu and Sri Aurobindo, Mary Baker Eddy, the wonderful Alan Watts and of course Thich Nhat Hanh) who connect me with the best of myself and to the divine whole of which I’m a part.
---In gratitude I bow down to the systems that support me, (to the plants and animals that are my food and the growers, packers, truck drivers, and grocery workers that bring it to me. And all of the systems behind all of my transactions with my surroundings, including the man who is trying to unclog my sink as my turkey cooks.) I understand how they interconnect me with the world in multiple ways and how dependent I am on these systems for the way I live.
---In gratitude I bow down to the people I love. (To Michael and my friends and family, my students and that special category of past students who are now dear friends, to the Youth Ambassadors and the Medicine Wheel Elders, to every person I meet who cares about other people) all of who stimulate my highest vibrational state.
---I gratitude I bow down to the people who’ve made me suffer. (*) I understand they are not as lucky as I am, that they suffer and as a result need to spread suffering.
(*) Fill in your own particulars for all the areas with ()
Lately I’ve begun to spontaneously bow my head with my hands together to thank people whenever they’ve given me help of any kind. It feels good, and I realize how few gestures we have for showing each other respect.
Thank you to the community of people who visit my bog. I appreciate your attention and sensitive comments. My awareness of your presence stimulates my mind and ideas.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shared Consciousness

Drawing Illusions

By eliminating marks and any other features that express the nature of the materials or artists’ gestural energy, an illusion can create a sense of first-person experience, of seeing the thing itself, for yourself, without the artist in between.
This gives the opportunity to present a visual idea as though within the viewer’s mind, like an insight or a revelation. A visual idea is presented as structure, and if the structure resonates for the viewer it can stimulate a line of thinking that fits the structure but uses the material of personal experience. Because an illusionistic image gives the perceptual system more to process, considerable unconscious involvement occurs. Because more bodily responses are triggered by the illusion of reality, the thought of the body is engaged. The idea, presented as though real, triggers deep level structures that represent a personal version of emotional themes we all share. Carl Jung was pointing to this when he wrote, “Image is psyche.” The patterns of our emotional dramas are best expressed visually. When I was a young teenager I was drawn to the work of the surrealists because they could create convincing illusions that were impossible in what people liked to believe was reality. I had a poster of a painting by Yves Tanguy over my bed, believably solid, specific objects in a dreamlike space. Everything looked real but nothing was recognizable. I probably wasn’t the only adolescent that felt a connection to those kinds of feelings.
The ability to make invisible realities visible is what attracts me now. It may not be possible to reflect on a new thought until we can see it, until we can wrap it around an image in our mind. The many ways we are connected and influenced by invisible patterns and fields of motion suggest new ways of thinking on a fundamental level. Creating images that give them visible presence gives people a way to structure those kinds of ideas.
Seeing our illusion of being a separate consciousness could grow from this. Our physical being interacts with other physical objects and as part of this filtering we assume we are separate with spaces in between us and an independent mind. David Bohm, Erwin Schrödinger and other quantum physicists suggest there is just one mind experiencing physicality through multiple windows. Zen teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Because the umbilical cord was cut when we were born we have the illusion we are autonomous.” His lecture on interbeing points out how interdependent we are, how many things that we think of as not us are essential to our being. He reminds us that the wave is always part of the water.