Sunday, July 12, 2015

Seven Degrees of Separation- Part 8

 Although I am a Christian by tradition and practice, I have read and studied the spirituality of all of the other main religious traditions.  Every tradition outlines a path to follow to holiness or enlightenment or peace.  Each tradition is steeped in its own culture, often originating from different parts of the world.  As I wondered about the path I was on in creating this series, I was reminded of the Nobel Eightfold Path of Buddhism, which is a life map for personal transformation.  When I looked back at these first three pieces of art, I realized that they were, perhaps, my own expressions of the first two steps along this path.

In all traditions, the spiritual seeker begins walking a path when he/she experiences the lifting of a veil enabling us to glimpse in a profoundly significant way, the true nature of reality..or a trans-formative experience of God.  Sometimes this happens through a near death experience or in bereavement.  It can happen through a profound insight or intellectual breakthrough in reading or study.  Experiencing great art or another's story can confront us into a new way of seeing reality that puts everything into a much bigger perspective and initiates our journey. I've titled this first piece, Lifting the Veil to express this first trans-formative moment.

Lifting the Veil 
7" x 21" x 2.5" 
Beeswax, Oil, Mixed Media on Artist-Created Paper Canvas

 The first step in this Eight Fold Path is Right View.  Simply put, we need to come to acceptance that there IS a path.  It is a faith in the unseen, it is a vision of something beyond ourselves and it is a willingness to begin a journey of transformation.   It sounds easy and perhaps even trite, but from experience I can say that it may take a good part of a life time to truly believe that life has meaning beyond what I see.  Or, as one of my mentors, Hildegard of Bingen, would say, "All is ordained in God for good, and so this too."  I have had to go through a lot of "this too."  Each of these life events both challenges and strengthens by belief just a bit more.

I've titled this second piece Through the Veil of Time because it is only through lived experiences and authentic relationships that we can leave behind our biases that often become dogma in our own mind.  Right view is about letting go of those artificial mind constructs that keep us bound by our illusions.

Through the Veil of Time
7" x 21" x 2 1/2" 
Beeswax, Oil, Mixed Media on Artist-Created Paper Canvas

Right Emotion, another step on the path, is a foundation for the rest of the journey.  Right Emotion or Right Intention, as it is sometimes called, encourages us to develop positive feelings for ourselves and for others.  This step is grounded in forgiveness.  I've known many people in my life who can't get beyond this step because they have never been able to either forgive their parents or siblings for hurts and painful childhood experiences or to forgive themselves for missteps or past transgressions.  It then becomes hard to see positive motivation in the actions of others.  To embark on this step, we often must step back into our past, realize that others have hurt us and we have hurt others....then make amends and move on.  We can then begin the slow work of appreciating our own value, caring for ourselves, and approaching each person--and all living things---we meet with positive good will.

Stepping Back into a New Tomorrow
7" x 21" x 2 1/2" 
Beeswax, Oil, Mixed Media on Artist-Created Paper Canvas

To see the next four pieces in this series and how they follow the Eightfold Path, see the next blog entry.

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