The purpose of art is to transcend the senses. The very senses through which it comes to be. A poem, for instance, takes something as limited as the english language and attempts to use it as a catapult. It points to something far beyond the definitions of the words it uses. It creates a feeling, an unspeakable understanding of something which can’t be precisely talked about. In art there is no logic, there is nothing you can hold onto. It’s only job is to create space, to knock back those walls which limit possibility within your own existence. When it doesn’t make sense is when it is most effective. If your pre-established brain patterns can’t wrap itself around what’s being said it has two choices: throw the art away and call it garbage, or thought itself must be discarded. You must then feel art and not describe it. When in the presence of a wonderful painting it is enough to just to be with it. There is no need to admire the skill behind it’s creation. Let the emotion of the artist be replicated within yourself. The only truth that exists in the Universe is the truth of experience. When you share an experience of another through art you share a permanent bond. You understand yourself and others more completely. It is the cultivating of this kinship that will ultimately bring humanity together.
I live in Ottawa, Canada and last night around 10 centimeters of snow fell. As I got into my car this morning it was still coming down but it was quite tranquil. There was barely a breeze and snow falling this way does an excellent job of muffling the sounds of the rat race. It wasn’t sticky snow but was nonetheless gathering quite significantly on the branches of trees.
When I arrived at work the snow had stopped but the air was still calm. Then without much warning the clouds parted and the sun shone bright against a sky blue backdrop. The sun has been a rare sight in Ottawa lately so I took special notice of this. It hadn’t been out for 5 minutes when I noticed the wind was starting to blow. The snow that was laying softly on the ground was now starting to be thrown about by this ever increasing breeze. Looking into the distance each building had developed a white halo of drifting snow.
This quick change in the weather caught my eye and I stood from my desk and went to the window. What was a stiff breeze now became a gale. Snow everywhere was flung from it’s resting spot and visibility was decreasing with each passing gust. I looked towards the front entrance of my building where three or four 40 foot pine trees stand bunched together. They seemed either unaffected or protected from the dramatic shift in weather, but then something incredible happened…
As if some universal threshold was broken the wind reached such a speed that the branches could no longer hang on to their snow. In one swift punch from Mother Nature the pines disappeared into a cloud of it’s own blowing snow. The trees were violently shaken by the indecisive wind direction until all it’s branches lie clean. As the snow all moved along and the trees became bare I experienced a definite awe in witnessing such a simple event.
Soon I began to realize that what I saw had profound spiritual undertones. The gathering of snow on the branches was similar to how we add layers upon layers to ourselves. Then there was the sun busting through the clouds providing a sign of hope. With the appearance of the sun the winds start to dramatically change. The environment becomes turbulent and more violent. Often, in a spiritual journey, after the first signs of light things start to get worse before they get better. Then as if the tree can take no more it releases the snow and carries it’s burden no more. The pines stand barren, simpler and free. The winds still blow but those pines barely seem to notice anymore.
If I had to pin point the biggest problem in the world today, I would say that it is the epidemic of separateness that permeates every aspect of our lives.
As a society we are always trying to place everyone in their appropriate category, and battling ourselves to improve our status. It happens with the choice of the car you drive, the clothes you wear, or the degree on your wall.
We are also clamouring to rank people.
Radio stations rank the top singers. Hollywood awards oscars to the best actors. Forbes names the richest people in the world. America’s Most Wanted has the most dangerous criminals. TSN names the best hockey players.
Why do we do this?
Many people often align themselves with those they admire in order to elevate their status to the same level. And should anyone say something negative about anothers hero, they would defend them as if they were their own child. This is very prevalent in sports where some fans are so aligned with the success of their team that they violently defend their honour against all opposers, Occasionally to the point of death.
From the negative spectrum we are also very quick to condemn those we perceive as below us. The homeless, the criminals, the drug users, all allow us to elevate our own status at the cost of our perception of their value as human’s.
Perhaps it is fear that drives us. Fear that we will never become anything of value, or fear that we have nothing more to offer.
The truth of the matter is that we are all one. No one better. No one worse
We all came from this planet. Everything inside us is from the earth. Whatever force created the universe is equal inside all of us. To paraphrase Eckhart Tolle “We don’t have a life, we are life.”
Would you rank the best trees? I suppose you could rank the tallest tree, the greenest, or the longest living. But none of that captures the essence of a tree. How from billions of years of creation the universe has expressed itself so perfectly in it’s stillness. Don’t get it? It sure is tall though.
And that is essentially what happens with people. When we rank everything in such a superficial way we ignore the very essence inside every person. We forget that in the most important way we are all linked, we are all one.
If everyone truly realized this I wonder how different the world would be. Would millions be left to starve while millions of others waste food? Would those without money and insurance be left without health care? Would wars be waged if you realized how closely linked you are with those you wish to attack?
Maybe one day…
My heart is broken.
There are not enough tears to express the sadness I feel for what happened in Syria yesterday. Nerve gas attacks by the government on the people of Syria. The footage of children suffering just before succumbing to its dreadful effects is unbearable. The fact that such a thing is possible speaks to the madness of the world we live in.
I sit here at work barely keeping it together. I know there is a flood of tears to come at the slightest trigger. I don’t know how to continue like normal after seeing such a thing. I don’t want to continue like normal. I don’t want to be that guy who’s numb and can casually move past this. How can anyone continue on with such unnecessary pain occurring in the world?
Children represent how life wants to be lived. They go about in total presence enjoying every ounce of each and every little thing they come across. Children are our guide to happiness, our bringers of joy, and the brightest ray of hope in this mad world. I am convinced we are born into this world with life figured out and spend the rest of our time unlearning it. Yesterday’s attack is a cry for help from humanity. We are lost and we don’t know how to find our way back.
But what can I do? What do I want to do?
What I want is for this not to have happened. To undo it. To prevent the suffering of those who suffered. Spiritually I know this is non-acceptance of what is. To deny this has happened is to live with anger clouding everything. And anger leads to a desire for vengeance. That those responsible must pay dearly. But that pattern has no end. It’s how you get there in the first place. Every act of violence results in an escalated act of violence.
We are all in this together
Much like a person who gets a serious illness, humanity is sick. While it is a few people who carry out the most dreadful of acts it is still humanity as a whole that is sick. When a person gets lung cancer they don’t say my lungs have cancer, they say I have cancer. Thus there is no real separation between us and those capable of heinous acts. We are at different ends of a scale but still on the same scale. If one is sick, we are all sick.
It’s time to question everything
We have got it wrong people. We aren’t slightly wrong, we’re not a little bit off target, we are way wrong. And we need to open our eyes to see it. We need to question our whole way of life. Science, Religion, Democracy, Capitalism, Socialism, Education, that 9 to 5 job, or that 6 to 6 job. What are any of these things accomplishing that is truly meaningful? What are they helping us become? Will they lead us to peace and happiness?
What do you want from life
Figuring out what you want from life is difficult. People will rarely say “I have everything I want” because they aren’t happy (or often very unhappy), and they need to assign that gap to something. If they watch enough TV I am sure they will assign that gap to something we can buy. If we spend endless hours at work that gap will be the promotion that we are longing for. If you’re in politics it’s likely more power that you crave.
But what if that gap wasn’t real
The essence of Spirituality is that we already have everything we need to feel Peace, Joy and Love. This is my path but this is also where my gap lies. Though I am not yet there I can sense the wisdom of looking internally instead of externally for happiness. I believe spirituality taps into the essence of who we are and that’s what Children are born with.
The majority of those who find spirituality later in life have found it through their own suffering. It is also sure that suffering in this world is increasing at an alarming rate. Perhaps it is our destiny to find spirituality this way. My only hope is that we can awaken enough to minimize the suffering along the way.