Blown glass is one of my favorite forms of art. In this Oscar-winning documentary short, jazz music and 1950’s film are combined to contrast the art of handmade crystal with the machine production of glass bottles.
Wrapping up this round of posts on the arts with a few more, beginning with these short video clips in which six teachers share their perspectives on the role of art and the artist in society. Teachings of this type have deeply informed my mindful journey back into the world of form and have helped me to glimpse the larger human story embedded in all works of art and creation.
|"I have great hope now for art produced by the interaction of human beings and computers."||"The artist is the social conscience of a society."||
"Society has to be able to observe itself … and what allows a society to do that are the producers of art and culture"
"But there is a vaster, much vaster intelligence in every human being that is non-conceptual, not words and concepts. You can't analyze it but everybody has that within, potentially, and I believe that is the source of creativity.."
"A real piece of art is a window into the transcendent."
|"The purpose of art is to take the senses on a journey back to the source of perception, which is pure awareness."|
To wrap up this first round of posts on the art of computer gaming, here’s a small gallery of soundtracks that demonstrate not only the range of musical styles found in gaming but some of the best work being done in the industry. For music that’s emotive with dashes of energy, check out Journey or The Unfinished Swan. Ori and the Blind Forest reminds me more of a Studio Ghibli or Disney soundtrack with its range, large sound and sweeping movements. The smaller and charming music from DVA is anything but routine and invites multiple listens whereas the soundtracks for Ibb & Obb and Hohokum are the type of meditative electronica that makes for a chill gaming session – or a good work session when playing in the background while blogging (true story – listening to Hohokum at this very moment). The images below link to freebies offered on Youtube for your listening pleasure; please consider supporting the artists of any of these creations you want to enjoy repeatedly. :)
Would you like to know the – tenth, let’s say tenth – thing I realized right after awakening? Within a few minutes, literally, I recognized that computer gaming would never again hold for me the same importance that it had until that moment. This thought brought a feeling of loss because I llluuuuv me some computer gaming, so much so that in 2016 I spent a considerable number of my pennies on a computer hardware upgrade (which I actually took pics of in true geek fashion) so I could jump onboard the VR (virtual reality) bandwagon. My super happy plan in late-2016 was to finish a project management contract and take a 3-month break from work to slip off the planet into the worlds of cyberspace. Then the awakening happened and all those plans ceased to exist.
After awakening and then spending months pushing through my outdated notions of what it means to be spiritual, I came to point where I recognized that my next challenge would be to come back to the world without getting lost in it. Though I was no longer clear on what specific work I’d be doing in the future, I was clear in my understanding that I should not withdraw from the material ‘noise’ of the world but should engage with it on a creative level. I felt called to resurrect my longstanding and long-neglected interest in artistic creation and to marry that with the skills I had acquired professionally over the years and see what happened. And if this approach seems a little cavalier, blame that on the spiritual teachers who encouraged me to indulge in such recklessness(!).
It turns out that many who awaken are left facing the challenge of finding a new purpose in life, one that feels more true to the newly revealed self. In response to those asking for help in finding this purpose, many teachers advise two things – patience and engaging in the act of creating. Patience makes the time for a practice to develop, bringing the stillness that carries insight. Acts of imagination and creation hook us into the mainline of Source consciousness, the wellspring of all inspiration. Whether through singing, painting, writing – any act of creating is recommended as a way to help quiet the egoic mind and invite inspiration and insight; I’ll share some of these teachings in the next gallery.
On Sunday, March 18th, the body of my feline companion of eighteen years took its very last gasping breath and then lay still, emptied of the little spark of awareness that I had known and loved as Frodo, my little fuzz-butt goofy-girl kitty. (What can I say, I’m not very good at guessing the gender of baby cats).
It was a death that was slow in coming; over her last year, her chronic arthritis and kidney disease started to worsen more quickly, though you wouldn’t know it to watch her launch her tiny spring-loaded body onto the top of the neighbor’s fence – or the top of the kitchen counter to loudly request food, more likely. But by mid-January, keeping her fed, comfortable and groomed required almost around-the-clock care. And it was in this setting that my next lesson about death and loss unfolded.
To be clear, this was not my first trip down this road; I’ve shared my home with feline companions for much of my life and have lost these friends to both old age and accidents. In the past, each of these deaths was filled with not just sadness but a sense of grief that I imagine marks the difference between those of us who have ‘pets’ and those of us who have ‘feline family members’. This was especially true a few years ago during the death of Sam, Frodo’s younger stepbrother (someone is a JRR Tolkien fan) who died of intestinal cancer at the age of ten. Over just a few months, I went from trying to save his life to watching him waste away and die and it was heartbreaking. I can still remember the tears streaming down my face as I sat with him and scritched his ears, already living in a time when I would never be able to see him again. And I remember the anger at a universe that had this animal suffering so.
What happens to our sense of ‘me’ after death? Does our consciousness reincarnate in another form to live another life? How should we prepare for our death – and what does that even mean? Insights of the type shared by these six teachers in this video gallery helped me discover a new perspective from which to grapple with such questions about the transformation that is death.
|In this 8-min excerpt from one of his many lectures, Alan invites us to embrace the other half of the natural rhythm that is death.|
"You can only die well if you understand this system of waves… that you are just as much the dark space beyond death as you are the light interval called life. These are just two sides of you because 'you' is the total wave. See, you can't have half a wave. Nobody ever saw waves which just had crests and no troughs. So you can't have half a human being who is born but doesn't die; half a thing. That would only be half a thing."
|Though the video quality is less than ideal, Shakti Maggi's concepts on death and 'reincarnation' (my term, not hers) come through with the loving clarity that is her hallmark in this short 4-min. video.|
"The body, it is simply a movement of energy arising from the stillness of your being …[during death, this movement] will be simply receding back into stillness."
|In this 5-min. video, Adyashanti describes how the process of aging can lead to the wisdom and freedom of letting go.
"But certainly, enlightenment is absolutely intrinsically linked with death. There is no deep lasting liberation without death, without dying before you die, without the psychological self giving way. They're intimately linked; you don't get one without the other. They're absolutely linked together."
|Rupert explains why we experience different states of awareness and offers a description of 'reincarnation' (my term, not his).|
"Remember, the body is an appearance in the mind. So when the body dies, just a particular localization of consciousness disperses… Consciousness doesn’t dissolve."
A 6-min lecture snippet in which Terence comments on the origins of the body and exploring the after-death space with psychedelics.
"So I think what biology is, is the intrusion into 3-dimensional space and time of hyper-dimensional objects. And the other clue to that, that seems an argument for it, is that we do have this thing called 'the mind' but we can't find it anywhere. It doesn't seem to be anywhere… [at death] I think probably these objects retract back into hyperspace - higher space ... we clothe ourselves in matter but we are not matter and so to actually complete a human cycle of existence, you have to go into death. It's where you came from..."
|In this short excerpt from an audience Q&A session, Eckhart talks about the transformation consciousness will face after the body's end.
"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal ultimately exists….. Beyond the appearance on the level of form, which is the only level where death exists, it is a transition from one form into another form or from one form into formlessness. That is what death is, no more than that. Nothing real dies…. It's a transmutation of form."
A gallery of images painted by C.G. Jung into the original Red Book. Click on the images to see text and notes from Jung and the book’s editor, Sonu Shamdasani.
The Red Book (1930)
Carl G. Jung, PhD
I am never surprised to hear spiritual teachers refer to the Bible or the Buddha - these are the types of sources I expect to hear quoted by those speaking about nondual consciousness. I was, however, initially surprised to hear so many teachers call back to the insights of Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. From Catholic priests to physicists, from philosophers to psychonauts, the number of people teaching in the nondual space who've been influenced by C.G. Jung is impressive. And what most influenced C.G. Jung? According to the man himself, it was his experiences during the years of 1913 to 1917, as seen in this quote from the book's opening pages:
"The years, of which I have spoken to you, when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life. Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then." --C.G. Jung, 1957, speaking on the experiences recorded in 'The Red Book'
While continuing to maintain an active clinical practice and family life, Jung spent his evenings and weekends during these years discovering and documenting the "visions", "fantasies" and "imaginations" he encountered while exploring altered states of consciousness. Originally recorded in a series of journals, by 1915 Jung began transcribing his notes into a 400-page book specially ordered to accommodate the illuminations and illustrations he wanted to add to the text. Jung updated and expanded this book repeatedly over the years but never published it, keeping it instead on a shelf in his office to share with selected students and colleagues, many of whom referred to it not by the name Jung had embossed on the spine (Liber Novus, or 'New Book') but as "The Red Book" due to the bright red leather cover. Though many believe Jung intended to eventually publish the book, that he did not do so before his death left the decision to his estate, which initially refused to publish. But after 13 years (!) of editing by Professor Sonu Shamdasani, the book was finally brought to the public in 2009 to the delight of psychonauts everywhere.
So far I've only read bits and pieces of the book as I can't get past the images (and related footnotes), which I've poured over for hours. Being fascinated by how human psychology expresses itself through images, I can only imagine the insights hidden within the choices (by Jung or by the collective mind?) of the specific colors and forms in each image. Some images remind me of ayahuasca art, some remind me of my own visions and still others seem to invite contemplation. Regardless, images from such a mind as Jung's - and from a time when this mind was discovering its broadest dimensions, no less - are definitely part of the draw here. In full, the book contains a reproduction of Jung's original handwritten text and images, a full translation, notes from the translator and editor, an epilogue, appendix and over 350 footnotes, many of them long and full of interesting comments from the editor. It's like book and meta-book, all in one.
I'm sure the hardcover edition is a beautiful thing to behold but if you're looking for the free option, the website Stillness Speaks has you covered. There are also many resources about the Red Book - I found this series of lectures from Professor Lance Owens a helpful orientation to Jung, the book and the context of its creation.