There is no non art, that’s the beauty of the Artist’s eye. While it learns discrimination between pleasing and non pleasing, stimulating and dull, the vision and motion of all things become one with the creative imagination. People are artworks, composed of their physical history, their presence, taste and radiance. All art is a commentary on everything and everything is the commentary of art.
The Paths to Self Realization
The journey and acknowledgement of authentic being starts at the journey of Self Realization. Self Realization or the journey to and beyond that point, could be described as the journey to find truthful expression of the reality of the Soul and the disenchantment of the unreal, the ego and it’s unruly perturbations and vexations that keep the consciousness trapped in a lower state of awareness as to the true nature and meaning of this existence on earth. All spiritual traditions have pointed the way of this path (attainment is not the correct word as Buddhists would say, as Buddha’s enlightenment was a loss of ego not a gaining of simply a title). As a yogi primarily, and an artist secondary, both provide the vehicle to reach this level of consciousness.
To understand the Self, the self (Jung differentiated between the “true self and the apparent self- Atman or Soul vs. ego) must be understood and its formation and development. At the beginning of this life’s journey , the newborn baby emerges from the mother, attached by the umbilical chord as a potential blank slate ( some theories of pre natal development have evidence that the baby does absorb impressions deeply into the unconscious from the mother, such as eating habits and tastes) . The new born baby, having chosen to take incarnation, and having been pure soul before birth, emerges as radiant soul, beaming, pre linguistic, expressing itself in a sweet love language of sounds. As it begins to get older, it’s awareness, from having little discernment between others as objects, and the world as an enmeshment and reverie of shapes, colours and sounds, begins with the development of linguistic facilities to discern between and to identify things. While the baby is lying in it’s cot in the nursery, a blue bird flies into the room and the baby with a shriek of excitement feels the birds presence. The mother, points at the bird and says to the baby, birdie. The baby thus identifies the bird as object, classified with title. The apparent miracle of pre linguistic consciousness is lost to the thought process, which separates the baby and the bird from the pure consciousness experience.
Furthermore, as the baby ages, the parent’s influence on the young one leads to the development of the ego structure of the baby. The baby begins to adopt the mannerisms, communication, impressions, drives, and habits of the parents, forming the structure of who it aught to be , who it thinks it is. The ego is in one sense, the sum total self image, which is drawn from sources initially from the parents, then friends, role models, celebrity. Egoist consciousness, never connected to the Source of Being, feels the constant lack of a failed connection to authentic being, and looks externally to fill the lack, leading to gluttony, jealousy, dissatisfaction in the present moment , and all the religious authority would proclaim as “sinful or impure”. Religions, coming from the latin root, Religio, meaning ‘to rejoin” has attempted to reconnect the threads of awareness from the ego back to the Soul, Atman or Spirit through the methods of yoga, or union. Devotion to a image of a divine being, whether it is Christ, Mary, Guru or some Deity has the potential to bring us to communion with what that represents as spiritual ideal or moves us to shift in consciousness.
Thus the journey to return to the Self is an inward journey of joining with the aspect of our being which like the baby, is untouched by conditioning , which dwells in the depths of cognition, rather than the ego which can only touch the surface of things. Connecting to that source of being, in the heart, is a radical shift from the rational mind which has been the dominant mode of consciousness. The heart, intuitive, radiant, loving, connected to the great brotherhood and sisterhood of the world, is a necessary shift to enable any joy, satisfaction and bliss to permeate. From the artists perspective, the heart in it’s intuitive loving knowingness, and center, is necessary to create authentic images from. Meditation and art are perfect companions for authentic Self-realization. The shift to creative consciousness is a shift out of the rational and irrational thinking mind. It’s a shift to intuition and knowing, rather than intellectual comprehension.
On a psychological level, Self realization is the realization of the true beingness of consciousness, which awakens one to their fullest creative potentiality and wisdom, to live life centered, in a flow state, self sustained, peaceful, finding joy in all without judgment of self or other. Art can be experienced as the souls yearning to express the inexpressible, to play with forms to be co-creators with infinity.
A difference between Maslow’s conception of Self Actualization and Eastern concepts of Self Realization needs to be expressed. Maslow’s model of hierarchy of needs, gives a pyramid like structure of the necessary attainments to enable the self to be actualized. Beginning with basic physiological human needs, food, bed, safety, and then to safety, security of resources, employment, to social acceptance, love, sexual intimacy, family, to Esteem, confidence and respect, finally to Self Actualization at the top of the pyramid. This model, being inherently Western, speaks more to human drives and desires than to Spiritual wisdom of inward contemplation. Yogis have notoriously denied themselves basic needs as acts of renunciation of grosser material reality to realize themselves. Self Realization is inherently transcendental. Beyond the veil of the ego, conscious potential and divine love pours through cells like a lightbulb being flooded by light. The crown chakra, chakra 7, when pierced by Shakti, the latent until awakened force of Kundalini, opens to rapturous bliss of all Is one, Sat Chit Ananda ( being, awareness and bliss) .
The process for working on this painting began with meditation and recitation of the mantra Om Namah Shivaya. This means, I bow to the true Self. I allowed the work to form itself from awareness, fingers finding movement and expression with the colours blue, orange, red,brown, white and green, dancing across the surface with light and heavy movements, rhythmic swaying and gestures of finger dances. A level of surrender needs to occur in all artwork, in the sense that the painting paints itself, and the artist is the conduit, free expression cannot be planned, as can only occur in the spontaneity of the moment. Sticking to abstraction for this piece, allowed expression to occur without the boundaries of formal representation. Free from the need to conform to any external standards of other, whether they be a style or movement , this piece is an experiment in letting go. The Self, in a Lila, dances through the image, leaving trace of itself, the formless presence of Self-leaving a form to dwell upon.
Maslow’s hierarchy could be seen in comparison to the Chakra system, which is the subtle body of a person and is concerned with the movement of energy ( Prana) related to circle plexus which spin with energy. The Chakra system deals with Mental, Physical and Spiritual aspects of the being and has a relationship to the nature of Self Realization. The first chakra, the Muludhara chakra or root chakra, located at the base of the spine, is concerned with the basic Survival instincts of a human, flight or fight. It is also connected to the earth. In Maslow’s hierarchy, security was the second level of the pyramid. The second Chakra, Swadisthana the sacral chakra is connected to the sex organ and is concerned with sensuality and sexuality, the pleasure principle, which does not fit directly into Maslow’s hierarchy other than in the third section, where sexual intimacy is. The third chakra, Manipura, or Solar Plexus navel chakra, is concerned with power and possession and would be most concerned with the fourth level of Maslow’s hierarchy- esteem relating to confidence and achievement. The fourth chakra Anahata, the heart chakra is concerned with love, warmth, and caring, which is most related to the third level of Maslow’s hierarchy- Belonging. The fifth, Vishudda the throat chakra, is related to communication and expression, which is most aligned with the top of Maslow’s pyramid, being creative expression. The sixth Chakra, Ajna, the Third Eye, is related to inner seeing, intuition, neutrality and imagination. Maslow’s hierarchy does not deal directly with these elements. The seventh chakra, the Sahasrara , the crown chakra, is located at the top of the head , it functions as a point between individual and cosmic consciousness, or finite and infinite. When Kundalini raises to this level, Samadhi ( absorbtion in Spirit/Self Realization/ Enlightenment is attained. The balance and awakening of all the chakras is necessary for Self Realization, as the proper functioning of all relates to all aspects of being. However, because of Samskaras (impressions which cause the subtle body to operate at a slower or closed level), this requires effort to dissolve through the purification of the fires of yoga. Yoga could be seen as the inner technology to dissolve the false aspects of being ( Samskaras ) which cause suffering and lead us away from knowing our Self and seeing clearly are path through life. Maslow’s analysis, that needs must be gratified in order to have the luxury of self actualization is a reductionist model of human behavior, which suppresses the nature of spiritual consciousness as a way to separate from egoist consciousness to find wholeness (which was and is always and already there, beneath the layers that suspend it ) . The beauty of art as a tool to achieve Self Realization cannot be understated. The question, who Is creating is key. As art is inherently non verbal, it allows the consciousness to dwell in a non verbal state, whether the mind still chatters will vary from artist, but as a medium for a meditative creative experience, reaching the state of Shuniya, or Silence can be achieved, which leads to the absorption in Spirit. This allows the realization of a subtler plane of consciousness, as the ego and physical body operate at a grosser consciousness. Transcending this level of consciousness, allows for the depth of the soul, which operates from an intuitive loving level of consciousness. Artwork emerges, and the painting, much like a dream, allows reverie, communication between the levels of consciousness- Unconcious,Subconcious, Concious and Super Conciousness. Unconcious material may emerge to the conscious mind for reflection, insight about metaphysics, memories, modes of cognition and mental processes emerge in the process. From a holistic standpoint, art as therapy is not only an efficient way of processing the experiences of life that accumulate, but a medicine for the soul to know itself.
Self Realization marks the necessary step for human consciousness and development. Every being, marked with vast creative and intellectual potential has come to this earth for the purpose of knowing who they are. Self Realization is an attainment, a loss and a remembering. It is the attainment of Selfhood, authentic being presence, the loss of the illusion of the inauthentic constructed and limited ego, and the remembrance of the timeless and transcendental Spirit. It is primarily an inner work, but through creative mediums seeks fullest expression and capabilities. Self Realization requires commitment to truth ( sat ), remembrance and Surrender to the Sacred and the intent of authenticity. Om shanti, Om Ananda, Om Namah Shivaya, Om Tat Sat.