You can only produce what you are. You are the habits of body and mind that you have fallen into. Become aware of what these are and you will begin to change and to grow.
You will begin to learn.
I, this being here and now with these perceptions, need to express this condition of being human. This relationship of one, small microscopic part observing the whole.
Nothing and everything.
For each world is a unique reflection of the Eternal Spirit. This one truth is the condition of life and, if we can truly embrace it, everything changes. Enlightenment is this; a perception: laughter at how seriously we take our shadows, our endless divisions of what is whole.
Yet this egocentricity is no small matter: this foolishness destroys, reducing variation to sameness, Truth to my truth: the world to me and my concerns.
Nothing, that has been written by great minds and spirits that I cannot hope to emulate, has changed anything: it is the condition of being human, the smile on the Buddha’s face.
We seek answers with the mind that can only be found with the heart.
To lose the self, to Become.
To feel, to express, to touch.
To bear witness to this Truth.
The search for a Truth we can only glimpse; what does that mean? This desire to go beyond limitation to reach the eternal The need to express this longing; this desire for transcendence: the nature of existence as separation and attachment. The dialectical necessity of form to absolute, of man to God. To gather these specific perceptions from time and space and to give them an expressive form that will carry them beyond this I, and bear witness to the eternal Truth, forever gained and lost. To touch with the vibration of the spirit, this is Art.
Desire and longing; to touch another beyond the limitation of self and human weakness: to vibrate to an harmony of the eternal. Not to be consumed by passion, but, like the phoenix, to arise, transubstantiated by the flame. This is love.
The effort of constant re-assessment is painful and, besides there are fine lines between doubt and weakness, conviction and intransigence; between form and formlessness. Doubt, questioning aligned with integrity takes strength as well as imagination – they are often taken for weakness (I know it from the classroom). It is easier to act in the blind belief of conviction and so often power seems to be in the hands of the least imaginative and most convinced; they offer ready -made maps that are easy to follow; they slough motorways across the inconvenience of gentle fordings and their simple slogans are easily graspable in the modern form of communication- the advert, the fax, the headline and the quick television summary. The modern hero, the re-invention of the man of action speaks determinedly into his cellular phone, making the quick and incisive decision as he surveys the tangle: ‘cut down that forest’, the road goes there. More attractive to the modern mind perhaps, than the doubt torn and self-obsessed Romantic poet- consumption is not as fashionable as it was.
Is it just the modern echo of Nietzsche’s ‘Will to Power’ in front of existentialist anxiety and our loss of a singularity of language and value?; Deconstructionalism, Post-Modernism are but the crux of being caught in a paradox; ‘meaning’ and ‘connection’ in human terms require a subjective, limited vision within a context. Perhaps the apple of the Tree of Knowledge was self-consciousness: “we saw that we were naked”; the realization that any context is but one possible of many and has no absolute value sets a sort of desperation where the idea of ‘standard’ and ‘value’ are disparaged and self-consciousness takes away that integrity of unaware absorption with subject that leads to quality. Why take any route rather than another?; the map becomes a confusion of crisscrossing by-ways which trample the delineation of major highways – self-conscious parody has always been the defense of insecure societies in periods of decline. Making pretty maps can become a defense for not travelling. The labelling of landmarks becomes more interesting than the reality; our technology gives us more and more means to recreate the topography in a ‘virtual reality’ that is seductive; the idea of experience takes over from experience itself and disconnects from meaning.
The greatest works of culture do manage to speak across time and space (the moments which are the only ones I will, punctiliously, grace with the name of Art; for the rest we are caught in a messy and prosaic wrestling with materials: the difference between a transcending moment of ecstasy and the brief and inadequate fumble in the dark). Such moments of the sublime have usually arisen out of a refinement of a specific cultural map, a paring of craft to a point of essence not dogged by the self-conscious awareness of the limitation of context; television, in creating the idea of celebrity and the eternal present, has stripped us of such innocence. How can any work avoid imasculation by a media that renders everything vapid by making it the victim of an idea of itself?
Scanning the horizons, I find that the contours of the landscape, the mountains of Truth do not change; T.S. Eliot’s moment in the rose garden is felt by us all at one time or another, The fact that human metaphor is constantly evolving and absolutes have to find new expression for every new generation does not mean that there is not a real landscape behind the map; real forms behind the shadows on the wall- a truth to bear witness to. a truth about the relation of the individual to the whole.
Always remaining open, questioning, doubting and reassessing takes energy, openness and constant attention to the present. It means living with uncertainty. Understanding is a long slow, subtle process that takes the whole being, not just the mind. It is easier to label, fix and forget.
From fear: fear of a lack of certainty: fear of inadequacy, of not being in control, we try to fix, to control, and to impose. The more uncertain we become – the more we see that we are not in control, the more systems we put into place.
Systems that are not living breathing and evolving die – and kill. We see the consequence in the intransigence of controlling, inhuman systems.