Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Loving Raindrops

Like drops of rain we are returning to the Father Ocean, or so the Hindu analogy goes. Each one of us is a little drop of ocean that must find its way back. The analogy stops there for most of us. It’s a pretty picture, poetic and romantic. We feel we understand. Therefore we are satisfied. We tuck the thought away as if it were complete. It requires no analysis or parsing. It is a whole picture in itself, the way things are.

Yet somehow something is amiss. The thought is not really complete. The story is not finished. It is simply a statement of the mystery of our existence hinting at a purpose yet to be disclosed. Thoughtfully we view the water drop. Perhaps we meditate as to its purpose. We see the light diffused into a rainbow and remark upon its beauty.

We see the world’s thirst quenched and the earth nourished. And yet a bit of the mystery lies still obscure, an ageless wonderment that only hints of an answer, but never enunciates the question. The drop of water is a miracle of formlessness. All life exists within it and outside it, but never without it.

And so we study and wonder, finally accepting its precious gift, yet unknowing the secret relationship between the water drop and the Father Ocean.. It is only a drop of water, surely this one drop is among the least significant of things. It could never be missed had it never existed. Yet it does exist as real when it is apart from Ocean as when it is united with its numberless counterparts.

The Ocean is mighty, a colossal force of incalculable energy, impossible to contain or control. But it is only an accumulation of seemingly insignificant drops. Each drop is composed of the same components as the ocean, Therefore, the mighty properties of Ocean reside in each water drop.

With that, our analogy is a little more complete. Each drop of water has a measure of the same creative force as the ocean. So if our Creator is the Ocean, then we are drops of God.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Essential Non-Verbal Communication

Language is an essential tool without which we could not survive. As all tools it can be used for purely creative and healthful pursuits, but it can also be used destructively. I believe our dependence upon the use of language exclusively as the only means by which valid communication can occur is a serious flaw in our approach to understanding our own nature. The major and most profound experiences that affect the formation of identity and personality are often not expressible with words. Therefore such impressions, perceptions and subtle experiences are currently ignored or deemed unimportant. Yet these aspects constitute the essence of our identities and they are valid at deep levels of our consciousness. To make them secondary in importance simply because they are not readily expressible with words causes emotional blockages that I believe are responsible for much illness among us. The arts serve as a multifarious venue for such non-verbal expression. I feel we all will be well-served by promoting artistic creativity and allowing it an increasingly important role in defining what we are.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Getting Out of the Language Box

Our various languages are tools that we are taught to use in order to communicate with each other. That is obvious. But tools are not inclined to be always beneficial. A craftsman can build a house with a hammer and other tools, yet the same tools in the hands of a maniac can wreak havoc. Since language is a tool, it can facilitate understanding, lead to profound and loving relationships, disseminate vital information, etc.

But there is a downside to the assumption that the use of language is the only valid medium through which reality can be expressed. Most languages in use today by “developed” societies are fraught with structural limitations that restrict one’s ability to create an expansive self awareness. Thus personal enlightenment is attenuated unduly.

The tacit assumption that language embodies a complete and accurate nomenclature of every possible experience forces a coarsening of the subtle variations, nuances and conceptual relationships which form the rich mental experience that makes each of us unique. To illustrate just one of many linguistic shortcomings let’s consider the conceptual relationship of two important words we all know: ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’.

Each of these words expresses the strongest of emotions doubtless. Without question the linguistic convention we all accept is that these two words express emotions that could not possibly be more extreme from each other. Yet I aver that in reality these two words represent emotional states that are most closely related and not at all opposite.

To love is to care deeply about an affective object. The opposite of caring deeply is to care not at all. To hate is also to care deeply about an affective object. Again the opposite is to care not at all. Now obviously the emotional reaction to the caring will be different in effect and affect so that the outcome which results in behavior appears to make the two activities opposed, but, in reality ‘love’ and ‘hate’ center about the interpretation of one’s relationship to another for example. Both ‘love’ and ‘hate’ describe the emotional experience of one who cares deeply rather than not at all. Thus, not caring at all is the opposite of the emotional activities represented by both words.

Now, if this seems inconsequential, then it illustrates how dangerous to our healthy apprehension of reality such erroneous assumptions become. We seem to exist in a bifurcated universe populated with opposing concepts that belie the true unity of our experience.

Just as I have illustrated that ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are not really opposites, the same can be applied to many other pairs of words whose underlying concepts are not intrinsically opposed; for example, ‘real’/’imaginary’; ‘objective’/subjective’; ‘concrete’/’abstract’, etc ad infinitum.

These erroneous effects of linguistic convention cause one to reject as invalid or inconsequential a great portion of the subtle, linguistically inexpressible experience that constitutes the bulk of our operational personalities. Therefore we learn to reject our own direct experience as reality presents itself in lieu of conventional, inaccurate, yet generally accepted expressions.

The result of such blind obedience to a linguistic model of the universe is that one adopts a small, inaccurate concept of reality that belies the incredibly rich and varied life experience that we would apprehend more readily if we did not reject it by habit.

Another pair of words that is accepted as utterly opposed is ‘success’/’failure’. This pair is somewhat different because it falsely reflects the true state of our endeavors at any particular stage of action. If one devotes much effort and desire to play classical piano, for example he will meet with varying degrees of success and failure as he develops. At no time during such development can he be said to be categorically successful or failed. Such an endeavor must be ongoing so that success is never complete nor can he be said to have failed utterly. Both states exist by degree simultaneously and never to the complete exclusion of the other. Therefore to fear one or the other is the equivalent of fearing both. It is the fear one should avoid without regard to the object of that fear.

A partial solution to these weaknesses in the habit of accepting language to the exclusion of a more expansive expression is the adoption of art as a more expansive medium. Indeed one cannot communicate narrow, specific information as accurately as through language, but on other levels artistic expression is not bound so tightly to convention. Therefore, art allows for the validation of experience that is otherwise inexpressible, allowing for the possibility of a greater degree of enlightenment.

These paragraphs only call to attention a very small number of bad linguistic habits that permeate our social structure. The irony here is that to critique language with specificity one must use it.

Please cultivate the habit when contemplating the real meaning of “opposing pairs” of words to ask yourself, ‘is there really a dividing line between these words? And while you are asking that, ask also ‘Where is the dividing line between myself and the rest of the universe.?’

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Everyone's An Artist

Everyone is an Artist...

Often artists claim they only produce work for themselves and, although it is true that a great deal of satisfaction comes from creating something beautiful, artists would be disappointed if no one else viewed their work. If you doubt that just ask a child with his new finger paints how he feels when Daddy is too busy to look at his latest creation.

One would think that being an artist is something special, but it really isn't. We are all artists in that we create from the moment we are conceived. To create is our main activity in life for we create our own experience automatically without thought.

The artist creates art and then he has the obligation to show it. This is automatic and as children we eagerly display whatever it is that we create from spattered paint on paper spread with our fingers to the most touching gestures with crayon on walls. But there are many in latter years who refrain from allowing this creative impulse to manifest in specific venues. Yet I maintain that they are just as creative as the artists who strive to bring their inner vision to the rest of us. When an artist creates a scene it is the first movement of a conversation that is not complete until someone else views the work and is engaged by it. As the viewer contemplates the scene created by the artist he or she automatically creates the world in which that scene fits. That created world is just as valid as the scene which the artist creates and no less meaningful. In fact, it is only when the initial statement of the artist is answered by the viewer is anything of true meaning established.

My wish as an artist is that those who view my work realize that they are contributing to the final product that I initiate. It is within that context that my realization of general human love is manifest.

A Short Conversation With God

The other day I was relaxing at home when a transformer in the neighborhood failed. There was a sudden silence in my apartment as I sat waiting for the lights to come back on. I started to do what anyone else in that situation does I got out a flashlight, shined it at my entertainment center and proceeded to pretend to watch television.

That was when God appeared. Well, he didn’t actually appear, but I heard a very masculine, deep voice that sounded very friendly.

“Well. Robbie, what have you been thinking about?"

I stifled the inclination to say, ‘Well, you ought to know.’ And gave Him a straight answer.

"I’ve been thinking about our relationship, actually, and I’ve concluded that the only thing that keeps us apart is that I’m in this body.”

“Oh,“ He said, “that’s interesting. Just where in your body are you, do you think?”

I couldn’t really pin that down and I said as much.

“Okay, where is your body, then?’

“I’m sitting in my chair,” I said.

“And just where is that?” He asked.

”In the living room”

”…and that is?”

“ my apartment.”

So it went. Every time I responded He asked for a more inclusive location:

My apartment is in Florida...the United States..northwest quadraspere…Earth...Solar System...Milky Way...The Universe.

I was getting a little frustrated by then and I knew that I had run out of bigger places.

“What’s your point?” I asked.

Somehow I knew He was smiling. “Well, that proves that the laws of physics are incomplete, doesn’t it? He said.

“How do you come to that conclusion?” I asked.

“It is often said about physical law that something cannot be in more than one place at a time, right?”

“Of course,” I replied.

“But, Robbie, you just told me that you are in all those places right now. Where do you think I am?”

I had the answer.

“Why, you’re in the Universe.” I said.

“Robbie, I am the Universe, so now I ask you again...where are you?”

Just then the lights went on.