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Art and Soul

If you want to work on your art, work on your life. — Anton Chekov

We seem to be always on the brink of one disaster or another in these recent weeks and months. Listening to the news has been terrifying. It is all too easy to succumb to fear and anxiety. These difficult days, it is hard to not let anger, bitterness and even hate rise and reside within us. I know my response must be one of love. It is not easy to respond with love, but in my heart I know that my commitment to my journey requires me to keep faith and respond with respect and belief in the interconnectedness of all beings.

“Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity…It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.” ~ Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

In the days after Charlottesville, I condemned the actions of those people marching into the night with torches, shouting racial slurs. I also wrote and spoke about cultivating peace within ourselves so that we may bring peace into the world. I was challenged on quite a few occasions, people interpreted my response- to cultivate inner peace and respond in love - as supporting these hateful actions performed by people hoping to incite violence So I am asking myself what must my response be? How can it be love? I know one thing, I must continue to cultivate compassion. Each of us wants to be seen, acknowledged, and appreciated. All of us walking on the earth suffer losses, all kinds of losses; loved ones die, relationships falter and are lost, success is elusive. When we experience a deep loss, be it physical, emotional or psychological, we can no longer prop up our sense of self, there is nothing left. When we get to that painful, stripped down place, we begin to heal. In the process of healing we find hope and a new understanding of the conscious and unconscious world. When we are are faced with our own vulnerability, we can discover the strength we carry within our selves. If we release our fears and expectations, we experience deeply seated love. In that moment we are connected at the deepest level with all creatures. Every one has this ability to sit in silence, to learn how to be in the moment, not worrying about the past or the future. While sitting in meditative silence I receive a sense that we are all united, I discover a sacred interconnectedness and come to understand that the idea of separateness is an illusion. In the silence I allow myself to heal. When I open my eyes and come out of that moment, I have a responsibility to remember the glimpses of interconnectedness and then to carry that healing and understanding to those around me. I must find ways to sustain this peace in the face of negative actions ranging from disrespectful and rude to hateful and violent and try to bring peace to those I meet and interact with. On a personal level this can mean, allowing people to be grumpy and complaining, angry or arrogant. Not pushing back, defending myself or turning away in response, but allowing, accepting and returning a smile or silence. I can understand the hurt and fear beneath the lashing out because I have touched it in myself.

"religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of Cosmic religious feeling… In my view it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those were capable of it...I maintain that cosmic religious feeling is the strongest in the noblest incitement to scientific research." Albert Einstein

How can I express my knowledge that beneath the constant flux of daily life there is a deep peaceful river? That we each contain an invisible world of consciousness where we experience the sacred flowing ? I paint. As an artist, I strive to expand my capacity for compassion as I work, to sustain the feeling of interconnectedness, and peace, in order to communicate it to those who view my paintings. I use color and light, to convey the experience I have had: the energy that flows through and around me is the same energy flowing through and around every being. Looking around us we do not see energy but we do see light and color. Light reflecting and bouncing off objects gives them definition. In this way light gives form to energy. Color communicates emotion and movement. I take in the world and create paintings using my external and internal experiences as raw material.

“Life is passing rapidly. Fiercely commit to every moment you find beautiful and remember it. Record it. Fully, whole-heartedly inhabit it. Awareness is one of the greatest things you can possess in this life as it is as important as the very air we breathe and water we drink to stay alive.” -Victoria Erickson

I choose to bring art rather than hatred to the world. For additional support in developing a compassionate mind, I recommend contacting Compassionate Mind Training

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