art & spirituality

Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik (18) worked with a variety of media and is considered to be the founder of video art.

This installation of Nam June Paik consists of a Buddha statue placed in front of a TV gazing at its own video image, registered by video camera. The traditional, closed eyed Buddha, contemplating the inner self, is forced to interact with a media perception of the self. You could see this as an illustration of what I am saying here. The statue as our consciousness and the video image as the individual. During an exhibition in Cologne, the artist took the Buddha’s place.

Agnes Martin
Yvonne Rand (19), a Zen meditation teacher on an Agnes Martin (20) work: "The risk in looking at a work with apparently repetitious elements is tending to a quick reaction, to a generalization, even before one is fully present with the work. Agnes Martin challenges our habitual ways of experiencing the world, it brings you back to ordinary daily experiences, like one’s breath. You know you breath in and out but you normally don't give it attention."

Our excited, noisy culture challenges and erodes the capacity for stillness and quiet. Agnes Martin’s paintings require the viewer to be still, to be present.

Agnes Martin

I had a salad for lunch, with tomato, cucumber, green salad, Gorgonzola cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Simple and nice. While eating I remembered myself that I want to look at life as a witness and just be aware.

And I was amazed about the limitlessness of awareness. In one bite I was aware of the taste of tomato, cucumber, salad, Gorgonzola and the flavor of oil and vinegar. While eating I was thinking and sometimes speaking out loud and I heard my voice, I was looking around and aware of the dish in front of me and the fork in my hand, the glass of water, the bread and butter. Tasting, looking, hearing, feeling, all together without a problem. Awareness is unlimited! I was aware and conscious of it all and that's what I really am. Limitless consciousness!

And still, normally we don't identify ourselves with consciousness. The same with existence, I know I exist and I'm happy I do but now, if you don't mind, I move on. We also have the light of the sun, the air we breathe, gravity to keep us on the ground. I can't think about everything all the time.

Indeed, but why are we than so concerned about what we feel and think? Why is that more important, so important that we think that it is our essence? Isn't it more obvious to be consciousness?

Ann Hamilton, (21), another contemporary artist.

"We are all in different ways living out the relationship between being bodies and in inheriting a language. I think it's really interesting that as a culture we spend so much time in language ~in reading, writing, speaking, and in print culture~ whether it's on the screen or paper. We are communicating all the time with words, trying to find the words in which we can recognize our experience. Can we think of something if there is no language for it? How do we understand experiences we can't name?" From the 1994 installation Tropos.

Ann Hamilton “You have to trust the things you can’t name,” Ann Hamilton contends, adding, in a related thought, “you feel through your body, you take in the world through your skin.”Experience, for Hamilton, leads to knowledge, or, more precisely, to a form of knowledge which is of far greater value and significance than mere codified information. Such knowledge comes as much through the body and the senses as through the mind. Consequently, she views verbal language as a deeply limited vehicle for communication since it remains at best an abstraction. Because they are concepts.

She asks the question: "Can we think of something if there is no language for it?"

My answer would be (but i don't think Ann Hamilton is waiting for my or anyone else's answer, she is interested in the process, which is the form of her art).

When there is no language, no names, life is rolling out by itself. When there is no interruption of naming the things that happen, life is what it is. We know what to do, the body knows what to do and the person also knows what to do.

Ann Hamilton

From Body/Object series. Ann Hamilton.

Our days are full with unnamed experiences. Aren't they? And i'm afraid that we blow ourselves up when we do name them all. I would say: "Leave this mind of yours in its natural state where there is nothing artificial."

In the Upanishads (22) there are anecdotes where the sense organs such as the eye, the ear, etc. supposedly contended among themselves which is superior, because the prana ( "life force" or vital principle) started saying, “Who among us is superior? He, by the exit of whom others cannot exist, may be regarded as superior. Let somebody quit; after that, if one of us becomes miserable, then we may say that person (that sense) is superior.” So the eye left; he went away. But even if the eyes were not there, there was no problem. The ears could hear, nose could smell, the tongue could taste, etc. Then the ear said, “I am very important. Let me quit, and let us see what happens.” The ears left, but nothing happened. If the ears were not there they could not hear, of course, but they could see, and many other things could be done. So it was found that none of the organs could be regarded as more superior than the others. But when the prana said, “I am superior, and I shall quit,” then all the senses started shaking. It looked as if the whole building was cracking because when the prana goes, the senses break down immediately. So all the senses said, “Don’t go, don’t go! Please, we accept you as superior.” Then they all worshipped him. When prana Returned to the body, they too were back.

As when the queen bee goes out, all the bees go out, and when she returns all return.

Even if all the senses are not there, even if we are blind, deaf and dumb, but if the prana is there, we are alive. So the prana should be considered as the true Self, because prana is alive even when we are asleep. Even when the senses are stifled, as it were, as in the state of sleep, and are not conscious, the prana is awake like a watchman; and so we must consider the prana as superior to all the senses.

Nothing in this world is totally independent. everything is dependent on Existence/Prana which gives life to everything. Thats why we meditate on Existence, which is emptiness, the blank sheet. No thoughts, just be. In the Upanishads they say it like this: The three aspects of Brahman (or God or the Self or essence or what ever name you want to give it) are – sat (existence), cit (consciousness) and ananda (bliss). Sat-chit-ananda is a Sanskrit term which translates as being-consciousness-bliss.

Sri Ramana Maharshi (23) (who is the most well known Vedanta teacher, who lived from 1879 till 1950) taught that the Self is pure being, a subjective awareness of ‘I am’ which is completely devoid of the feeling ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’. There are no subjects or objects in the Self, there is only an awareness of being. Because this awareness is conscious it is also known as consciousness. The direct experience of this consciousness is, according to Sri Ramana, a state of unbroken happiness. These three aspects, being, consciousness and bliss, are experienced as a unitary whole and not as separate attributes of the Self. They are inseparable in the same way that wetness, transparency and liquidity are inseparable properties of water. (David Godman, 'Be as you are'. 24) Bliss, or happiness is our natural state of being. And because it is our natural state, it is our nature to search for happiness. We don't want to be miserable, we want to be happy.

 

 

Ramana Maharshi
Sri Ramana Maharshi. MW.
 
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