Format Gallery

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.

Terence McKenna
'Art & Artists'
"I have great hope now for art produced by the interaction of human beings and computers."
Deepak Chopra
'The Role of the Artist in Society' (excerpts from the documentary 'Mythic Journeys')
"The artist is the social conscience of a society."
Dr. Carol Becker
'Art's Role in Society'

"Society has to be able to observe itself … and what allows a society to do that are the producers of art and culture"

Eckhart Tolle
'On Conceptual Art'

"The moment you give it your complete attention, every little thing is alive and miraculous and beautiful."

Jordan Peterson
'Why You Need Art in Your Life'

"A real piece of art is a window into the transcendent."

Rupert Spira
"'Why Make Art?'
"The purpose of art is to take the senses on a journey back to the source of perception, which is pure awareness."

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Format Gallery

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.

Alan Watts
"A Happy 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."

Shakti Maggi
"Nothing Dies, The Endless Kaleidoscope"
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."
"Death: The Essential Teachings"
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 Spira
"What Happens to Awareness After Death"
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."

Terence McKenna
"Life And Death"

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..."

Eckhart Tolle
"How Will You Experience Death?"
In this short excerpt from a radio interview, Eckhart talks about a choice the consciousness will face after the body's death.

"What is left is simply consciousness. Temporarily, perhaps, it will still have - not a physical form but exist as a separate form … the choice may be there of taking on another body or of removing yourself completely. There are many people now - those who are ripe for realization - if you sense within yourself, you will feel whether or not you want to live again."

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A New Earth

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (2006)
Eckhart Tolle

Immediately upon gaining even a small understanding of the awakening experience, I began wondering what my new role in this world would be. Wondering ... then worrying ... then planning ... then trying not to plan. Over the weeks, 'wondering' became 'impatience' and I turned to my growing stack of books in the queue for any about 'purpose'.
“Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.” ― Eckhart Tolle, 'A New Earth'
But as Eckhart explains at the start of this book, the 'purpose' in question is 'awakening'. And as millions of people have come to find out, Eckhart is very effective at crafting the verbal pointers to help awaken the mind to the Now. Though I had already awoken, as it were, the book still helped me identify the things within me, my life, and my way of thinking that must have shifted to allow this profound encounter to make its way past my egoic self. So even if the book did not hand me the keys to unlock a specific purpose (damn!), it definitely helped propel me down the path to further clarity about the awakening itself. Good stuff.

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Eckhart Tolle

Website, YouTube

Eckhart is a German-born spiritual teacher now living in Vancouver, BC. He may be one of the most popular non-dual teachers in the world and two of his several books - Power of Now and A New Earth - have each sold millions of copies. His teachings, which are informed by many traditions, focus on helping the individual recognize both the egoic sense of identity and the core awareness as separate entities within the mind. Eckhart provides a number of instructions to help one minimize the energy given to the ego in favor of bringing forth awareness, true insight and awakening.
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” --Eckhart Tolle, 'A New Earth'
What's been helpful: First, there are a lot of Eckhart's teachings available - his website features hours and hours of presentations, meditations and interviews and YouTube offers a whole bunch more. While I had earlier come across snippets of his videos and writings, I was not aware of the nature of his teachings until early this year - and then they were like a balm for a confused psyche. Eckhart's style is usually calm, quiet and largely non-dramatic and his insightful, powerful teachings include effective lessons about the ego; how it is formed, how it negatively influences our perceptions and therefore our actions, and most importantly, how to extricate oneself from egoic control. I found his writings and seminars as more like practical advice and less like spiritual texts; things I could do instead of just new ideas to contemplate. I consider Eckhart's teaching to be an excellent primer on the nature of ego and awareness and the role each play in the human life.

Eckhart is conversant in a number of spiritual traditions and asserts that, in their basic form, these traditions are all pointing to the same truth of a single shared awareness, a message which deeply resonates with me post-awakening. And he is careful to remind his audience that his own words are also just pointers to help you find your own truth. Having studied so many texts and teachings, Eckhart often gives examples from multiple traditions when illustrating a concept, providing the uninitiated with interesting glimpses into a number of ancient beliefs and how their messages are related.

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The Power of Now

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (2004)
Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart begins this book with the story of how he came to be a spiritual teacher before going on to write that this book represents the essence of his work. Since it was written in 1999, some may wonder if this statement still holds true. Having listened now to many an hour of his recent meditations and lectures, I'd agree that this book captures the essence of the wisdom Eckhart Tolle is still sharing today with audiences around the world. He uses a Q&A format, the content coming from lectures, counseling sessions, and seminars. I found this format to be a penetrating way of shining a light on the illusory nature of ego and the nature of the true self. The book also provides numerous practical teachings on how access and stay connected to our true nature.
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” --Eckhart Tolle, 'The Power of Now:'
What I especially appreciated about this book is the straight-forward, eye-to-eye nature of the writing, perhaps because the message is not always easy to take. Accepting the 'death' of the ego identity is experienced as a substantial challenge by most people; this book provides the mental concepts - the pointers - to more clearly perceive the egoic self and awaken from its illusion.

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