Tuesday, September 27, 2011

White Baby Elephant

                      Illustration 4,   White Baby Elephant 4, gouache on paper, 30x21cm, 2011.                    

White Baby Elephant Dream continued

I put the White Baby Elephant in the car where there were already two grey dogs, one large and one small. The large dog looked like an elk-hound or an Irish wolfhound cross. The smaller dog looked like a poodle cross. Also in the car were two plastic garbage bags filled with second hand clothes destined for a charity bin.  I realised that I was on my way to the country to visit my mother in a small country town to celebrate  the annual fair where farm animals and fruit and vegetables were on display.


In my physical waking life, I have a large grey twelve year old standard poodle called Lou lou, who was neither of the dogs in my dream. When I bought Lou lou as a puppy I was living in an old house in Sydney with my family. While in this house and before Lou lou arrived, I would occasionally see from of the corner of my eye a large skinny grey dog with wiry fur. It looked like an Irish wolfhound cross with a sad persona. At the time I disregarded the sightings of the dog as some kind of confusion. When Lou lou arrived into our lives I stopped seeing the grey, skinny dog. 

The small grey dog in my dream is not a physical dog but I had also seen it before I had the dream.

I have attended the last two Sydney teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and at times found my mind shutting  down as I found absorbing large chunks of Buddhist philosophy overwhelming. My eyes would be open but I wasn't processing sights or sounds. I could see my surroundings clearly but my brain isn't focused on what I see. 

In this state with my mind and body relaxed I saw the stadium where the teaching was taking place gradually fill up with a beautiful transparent white mist. I looked down to my leg and there was a small grey dog, standing on it’s hind legs, with it’s front paws resting on my left knee, asking or looking at me as if it wanted a pat. I tried to touch the dog but it disappeared. 

The following year during the second teaching I received from the Dalai Lama I had a very similar experience to the year before. I saw the same small dog, this time just standing by my feet looking up at me. When I focused my attention on the dog again it disappeared.

What I find particularly interesting about the grey dogs is that both were originally seen with my eyes open but did not exist in my physical world. Contemplating on the particular state my mind was in when I saw the small dog I recognise that my mind was functioning in a slow alpha or theta state, which is similar to a dreaming state while asleep. 

Both dogs were also seen while I was dreaming with my eyes closed in the White Baby Elephant dream.  I also found it interesting that I saw the little grey dog twice and both these sightings were most likely triggered by a particular conscious state, which was triggered by the Dalai Lamas teachings, which stems from words and their meaning and their emotional impact. 

Particular emotions have specific vibrations. You could go so far as to say that all people and physical objects have a specific vibration. For example a calm person can make someone else feel calm, not only from his or her body language but also from the vibration they have. I sense the Dalai Lama has a powerful vibration and I imagine and feel (imagination and feelings are the basis for creating our conscious reality) that his vibrational influence ignited what I would describe as a momentary expanding of consciousness.

Amit Goswami, a theoretical quantum scientist, describes all phenomena or our reality as being created or manifested from our consciousness. If this is the case, dreaming states of consciousness are as much a justified reality as waking consciousness. Perhaps meditation and other vibrational influences are merely tools to lift a veil to reveal other possibilities of conscious realities or dimensions. Whatever world you find yourself in it arises from your consciousness.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Writing on paintings in invisible ink.

             Some of the ideas behind the invisible ink writing on my painting.

                                       Close up of invisible ink writing on Sequin’s and Gold tipped Horns

On some of my paintings that I have written on in invisible ink, I write about the ideas behind the subject of the painting. The invisible ink can only be read or seen with ultra violet light.

With my self-portrait Sequin’s and Gold tipped Horns, I decided to write on the face and arms in invisible ink, a bit like an invisible tattoo. I also thought I would reveal what I have written on this painting in this posting of my blog. Without the knowledge of what the painting is about, the self-portrait comes across as a painful exploration in vanity.

The invisible ink writing on my self-portrait Sequins and Gold Tipped Horns says something along the lines of what I have written below.

I had the good fortune to be invited to a number of meetings with a group of five women, who were focusing on the exploration of mystical and esoteric pursuits.
At my first meeting a very nice lady who was in her sixties and for a short time while in her early twenties became a catholic nun. I will call this lady Mary; she asked me if she could do a reading for me using oracle cards ( this is a prediction or a physic observation into a persons life) . Oracle cards are like tarot cards, but the images on oracle cards are usually a lot less confronting than tarot cards. The images on these cards were quite badly executed miniature prints of semi naked women representing different aspects and qualities of the Goddess. For example one cards image was of a naked blond woman holding a broken red heart, this image was representing a troubled or failed romantic relationship. 

These images made me feel uneasy. I realised much later after reflecting on the whole experience why I felt so uncomfortable. The images to me portrayed the idea of wishful thinking. I believe wishful thinking can at times be beneficial and at other times can be quite negative. These cards seemed to embody the idea of a wish or a kind of clinging on to a hopefully better future, which to my view leads to the connotation of an individuals fate being out of ones control and a lack of being in the present and taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions and in-turn your future.

I will also point out that the other women in the group thought the cards had great artistic merit and felt some kind of spiritual connection with them. I by no means think that my views are superior to the other women who attended these meetings. My observations of the pictures that made me feel uncomfortable eventually revealed a connection I had with these kinds of corny symbolism. Investigating a difference often gives rise to finding a similarity. 

Having spent many years studying Tibetan Buddhism I thought it would be beneficial for myself to look at aspects of wishful thinking in my wishy washy practice of Buddhism. This is how the self-portrait Sequin’s and Gold tipped Horns came about. It is my giant wish fulfilling oracle card. It is me set in the future, in another life time, returning from the top of a mountain as an enlightened being.  The closed lotus flower is a gift I offer to show the path or knowledge for others to become enlightened.
The cow represents my world and steering the horns is having absolute control over the direction my life takes. The sequins on the dress represent the many life times it has taken to achieve enlightenment.

I experience a similar uncomfortable response to my painting as I did to the oracle cards, which was my intention in executing the painting. The painting only reveals the final enlightened state and not the intricate and uncountable actions taken to achieve enlightenment. I think this could be where the unease in the image lies. The actions in achieving this state have been compiled into symbolism, which can be difficult to decipher and when romanticized, can for me be annoying. My painting and the Goddess oracle cards have a similar wish fulfilling component, my painting is a little easier on the eye for me than the cards but this is just because the subject I have painted about is more familiar to me than the cards of naked Goddesses holding broken red hearts and the like.

Going back to the oracle reading with Mary.  The information Mary relayed to me was insightful for that particular time of my life and for someone who didn’t know me at all.  What fascinated me was the deepening of focus Mary became submerged in while doing the reading. A combination of concentration, a closing off of all external stimulation and the images of Goddess cards triggered a subtle but visible change to her conscious state. I spoke to Mary after the reading about some of the things she had told me; to my surprise she had very little recollection in anything she had said. This was the beginning of my fascination with the mind and its potential for different states of consciousness and a subject I am continually happy to explore.
                               Sequins and Gold Tipped Horns, 2006, 160x120cm, mixed media on canvas.