I Changed My Mind
Looking back to a vow made decades ago, I promised myself to know no rest until I ceased living a duplicitous life, the obvious starting point to doing so was my impressionable mind. Not that I am impressionable in a negative way, because as an artist I’m not, but because of my mercurial mental abilities I decided I might easily alter the course of my life by stepping off a road I was on, leading me nowhere nearer to my target, and onto one that held more promise.
It really didn’t start there .. well, it did, but started up again in earnest that day I leaned a hand on the door frame and the other on the door’s edge to my walk-in closet, and, peering into the daylight that was streaming in through a small window, a sudden realization came to me that it was not my eyes through which I was gazing, but another’s that was seeing through, no, as me.
I tried for quite some time to sort this out but couldn’t find a logical explanation; the reality was, it was, yet wasn’t, me. Both I and the seer was all there was, and it seemed the other, too, was all me. No, wait, there was no in-the-background-me watching, there was only seeing, me and not me seeing. And the door.
This was not imaginary. As a painter, a similar experience of complete absorption with the model and canvas overtakes the painter painting. It’s kinda why I paint … for that rapport. This experience seemed like that but different … the watcher disappeared, while the me that really wasn’t me remained, which somehow cut through to a more transcendent experience.
Early forms of Christianity asserted a similar view known as monophysitism, but were shunned as heretical. This asserted that all existence is comprised of only one sacred nature. Apparently, some 1500-plus years ago this was suppressed by the priest-class of the day and the Byzantine Emperor, as both favored a belief of duophysitism where there exists two natures, one natural and one divine. Of course, in those days men believed in an ether that surrounded the Earth, hence the term ethereal. My experience flies in the face of the latter, and favors the former. And as well, these were the same rulers and religious elites that jealously denounced all painters of icons during the 100 years war on iconoclasm, so, as a painter, I jokingly have a small, personal grudge against them as well.
Looking through my own history and picking up a decades-old search for that ‘lost chord’ , I found my old friend and mentor, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Still in complete and utter awe of his electrifying presence, I now studied his teachings rigorously and was led back again into a strong, daily practice of meditation.
After years of discipline and absorption, my impressionability began to bear fruit. By comparison, this is like converting inches to the science of metrics, and a complete transformation of awareness and precision transpired, called in Sanskrit bodhichitta, which is, ‘awakened mind’.
Did I change my mind? Better stated, was my mind changed? Let me say that the old ways of thinking fell like autumn leaves in wintry winds and brought about a deeper life experience, much like experiences I had had and was sorely missing. Even now, a fluid dissolution into reality continues to erase the afflictive emotions that once took me captive, and in my everyday artfulness, life grows steadier and more at ease, in spite of on-going conflicts that arise.
All of which begs the question: is it not us that is awakening, but the undifferentiated universe of truth and beauty emerging as us in fecund forces of natural formation, passing to us a request — “kindly, remove your obstructions“?