Friday, June 30, 2006

Guru Yoga

One of the most wonderful moments in my life was when I first made eye contact with the Dalai Lama. I was attending his two week long spring teachings at his monastery in India, standing along the path he makes as he leaves the courtyard. The experience I had totally caught me off guard. It was like a rush of light and love and acceptance and confidence erupted like a geyser within me as soon as our eyes met. I was filled with devotional love, a smile filled my face, and my hands naturally touched in prayer and offering to this holy, holy soul walking and giggling towards me.

This experience is not unique to me at all. People from all over the world flock to India in order to feel his presence. And you really can feel it. It even effected my sleep. I had lucid dreams and remembered five or six dreams every night i was there.

But the point I am trying to make is that the light and love and acceptance and confidence all arose inside of me, out of me. The Dalai Lama was just a spark. I was the flame. Same thing happens when you fall in love, i think. When you fall in love, when you swoon and melt into the eyes of your lover, all those feelings of perfection and adoration arise within YOU. They are coming from your own being, your own presence, your own mind. The lover is just the spark, the igniter of all that love. The spiritual teacher, the guru, the mountains, the ocean, the art, and ultimately even your own reflection in the mirror can become the Beloved and throw you into the fire of love, sometimes so forcefully you feel as if are literally falling. Falling for hours and hours, the wind, the weightlessness, the freedom, the rush, all happening inside your belly and heart.

So, by seeing the Dalai Lama or any teacher as a manifestation of pure love, as the Christ, as the perfection of god, the teacher’s presence has the ability to transform your mind and therefore you life forever. True, it might seem like you are RECIEVING all these new and wonderful qualities. But in reality you are really only experiencing your own qualities and potentials being seen, coming up to the front of your awareness, awakened and inspired, and then projected. It all arises from within. It is not given, but is intrinsic to your very nature.

The universe is creative, and at our core, we are the universe, each of us a center of awareness for the universe to perceive itself. If you believe that we were created in the image of God, then He created us creative. We are all artists. Each of us is a mirror reflecting our own true nature, a reflection of the Creator. Each of us has everything god has as our very nature and soul. We are His very reflection. (Here, it appears that God is the creator and the created, the alpha and omega, the ground and goal, source and summit, the cause and the effect, each reflecting and embracing and becoming the other forever and ever.

So, if you notice right now, you are reflecting the universe with your mind, seeing it with your eyes, hearing it with your ears, feeling it with your body. This is already happening, it takes no effort on your part. You are born with this mirror capacity.

A fascinating thing begins to dawn, though. And that is that the mirror itself never changes; its reflecting capacity never wavers. Only the experiences and sensations it's reflecting change: only the objects in the mirror. Things come and go, a river of experiences flow by, and the reflective film or shine that is consciousness remains unscratched and unchanged. It also begins to dawn on me that the mirror is never apart or separate from its objects, but instead gives them their very existence. And, at the same time, the reflections give existence to the mirror. Both paradoxically merge as one happening, one play of light occurring, empty of meaning and substance, and also over-flowing with meaning and substance. Empty of separatness and thus full of fullness; the empty mirror.

My painting teacher awoke a similar confidence and love inside me that the Dalai Lama did. When he was with me I looked into his eyes and made believe he knew everything, which wasn't hard to do since he seemed to be a limitless reservoir of knowledge and experience, and he laughed alll the time.

Artists are constantly observing and experimenting, reorganizing old knowledge while gathering new facts and exploring new imagery and techniques. And, on top of that, the artist is supposed to be genuinely human and honest, as well as an original thinker. This can be very discouraging to most people, leaving many repelled from even trying. But when we have a teacher there with us, someone we can imagine holding all the knowledge and experience of a master, then our own knowledge and experience can arise to be projected onto the teacher. With my teacher, I felt like we were in a sacred and secret conversation all the time. it was so exciting. As a student I was awakening my own inner knowledge by resonating with my teacher’s creative energy. But this could only have occurred in direct relation with my ability to open, accept, and receive. It's like I surrendered to the knowledge of the teacher, and immediately a connection was established between the rhythm of me-a beginner-to the reservoir of liberated forces residing within the teacher. And all he had to do was be present with me.

In the teacher’s presence, there occurs an atmosphere of acceptance and inspiration, fearlessness and creativity, where it seems anything can be imagined and all connections can be made. I’m talking about my painting teacher, but any spiritual teacher or lover can create this atmosphere.
Now, even just looking at a picture of the Dalai Lama can bring back that rush of confidence and compassion.

I thought of this when I was spending time with my friend Kamaji at the gallery. He is so calm and still and graceful. While looking at his face the waves of my mind are calmed, my posture straightens, and my breathing becomes deeper. I am at the same time thrilled to see him. I now understand that the reason he seems so beautiful and peaceful is because he awakens that peace and mindfulness within me.

All these pictures were from today. The red bike is mine.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

pics from the show

I want my art to help create a setting or mood in which people can
meet and connect with each other; where conversations and positive
ideas can flower and flourish.


I am fascinated with patterns found in nature, as well as the way
light falls over forms. I'm also interested in the power of symbols to communicate ideas that
language alone cannot. I think it is interesting how each symbol only has
meaning when the viewer creates the meaning.


My newest work circles around issues of impermanence, natural forms
and patterns, mystical symbolism, and light. The intention is to place
these images into a context of contemplation or spirituality and
invite the viewer to perceive more and more of this world as a gesture
or play of the Divine or Sacred.

I strive to grow in understanding and experince of mystical or
trancendental states of mind, and then drag that into my art. In
doing so, I hope to remind people that this world is a dreamy,
diverse, colorful, mysterious, energietic place. Here we are, a few
of the countless eyes through which the Universe uses to look at
itself. Here we are, bodies through which the earth can feel itself. Here we are,
creating a world in every moment, painting a world with our minds and
hearts, then stepping into that painting. May we see the dreamy glow
and light surrounding us, and relax into the flow of life.


My paintings are intended to provide the viewer with a simple space
for rest. Moreover, my art is intended to help alleviate suffering by
pointing to the patterns that connect the endless diversity of natural
forms together into one growing and glowing web of life, the
transcendental ground that unifies.


Saturday, June 17, 2006


So, this week was a busy one. On Wednesday after grade school I went to Matsuyama to meet up with Dianne Daugherty, my Japanese teacher from high school, and the 11 high school kids she brought. We went to Dogo onsen, the first onsen in Japan, and for all of them it was also their first onsen. The girls had a big problem choosing what private part to cover up. The boys were a little nervous at first, but then relaxed and were able to walk around naked freely. All the students were beautiful and smart. A handful of them and I accidentally stayed up in the hotel lobby until about 3 talking about everything. Racism, homophobia, the war, religion, even the fear of death. I mostly listened. These kids had some great ideas.

But the highlight of the trip I think was during the last 30 minutes before my train arrived to take me back to Niihama. Dianne told Claudia and I a detailed account of her mother-in-law’s death and how amazing hospice was. She also told us all about her brother’s death.

Saturday evening I set up my show at the gallery. Katsu and Mako helped. A rush of energy filled me up when it was over. Then, Shun and his friend Jije picked me up and took me to dance in Takamastu. I met a beautiful girl there who helps people with mental disabilities and we talked about ourselves while sitting on the pavement outside.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Timelessness, dance trance, homosexuality, becoming Buddhist, and the World Cup

All the pink in this painting is for Chris Romain.

Here are some children picking up large pebbles at their school.

A TV crew came to my middle school today to film the students yelling “gambare!” to one of the World cup players (Fukunishi Takashi) who is from Niihama and went to this school. (I pass by his parent’s house almost everyday, actually. Doest that make me cool?) The big game starts in an hour. It's unlike me, but I really want Japan to win.

This morning I woke up at 5:00, exactly one minute before a big earthquake hit Niihama. It was very exciting at first, but then got a little scary after what seemed like a minute. Do I get out of bed and hide under my table? I stayed in bed, hoping the ceiling wouldn't fall on me making this my last morning in this sore body

Boy am I sore today. Saturday night I went dancing in Takamatsu until morning and totally forgot my past and future.

Let me take this opportunity to tell you about becoming Buddhist.

When I officially became Buddhist almost 5 years ago (which, being one who doesnt believe in organized religion, seems kind of fishy, I know. But at the time I intellectually understood why having the support of a 2,500 year old tradition would induce certain psychological changes inside me, and so I felt I was ready to enter into that large river.) I was given a new name by my teacher Khamtrul Rinpoche and a “direct transmission” of some “secret” dzogchen teachings passed on verbally from teacher to disciple all the way back to the time of the Buddha. In this ceremony he also cut my hair symbolizing rebirth into a new body.

One meaning of this ceremony is to give you an opportunity to forget your history, your personal story that you carry around with you and look to constantly solidify who you think you are. It's not who you really are. You're not that idea, that image, that memory. You are the presence which is aware all those passing concepts. You don't have to be that historic person. You can be a new person, with a new name, who has just been born, and that, from now on, will be reborn everyday. So that is one reason for the ceremony: Not just formally entering into the Buddhist lineage, but also formally receiving an identity that has no past.

Anyway, dancing to James Brown mixed with a phat beat, I suddenly found myself in a dance trance.

A sense of the Sacred descends from within. I am entirely here, without past, without future, entirely focused on the present, on the Real, on the music, on the body. I know without a doubt that in my direct experience there is no time, no future and no past, no past sounds, no future sounds, no past selves, no personal history. I am only and always alive Now, already living timelessly because I am already living in a timeless moment, not timeless because it lasts forever, but timeless because it never had a past or a future. Right now is Eternal, or existing above time. And, because I know it is impossible to live outside the present moment, it is also impossible to live outside Eternity. The Eternal Present Moment, happening right now, and now, and now, is impossible to avoid. I think of the famous poem “Footsteps.” Even when you think you are alone, the Eternal Presence is with you. Alone with the Alone.

Feeling deeply into this present moment I feel into Eternity itself, the Omnipresent One, into the presence inside me and around me that will never die. I feel into the part of me that is unborn and undying, the presence I am before I was born, before this universe was born. I can actually feel into that part of me that existed before I was born. and so can you. Of course, it’s not a part of me, but is the whole Me, in a fundamental sense.

Dancing, beautiful sexy people synchronize their bodies with my own, the pulsing of our muscles. The women keep their distance, a very sexy move, and the men rub their bodies against mine, their hands touch my chest and my hips. These men are not homosexuals, but this is homosexuality. Our soft but swelling cocks touch. Our bodies hump the beat, making the beast with two backs. I am entirely here, focused on the stretching muscles, on palms and penises, on the heat and sweat wetting my back and chest, on the eyes looking into mine, and the smiling teeth, glowing in the black light, hovering magically in the space in front of me. I feel a sense of adoration, of ecstasy. I am thankful for being alive. For being alive here, now. And as a Being saturated with the present, thick in the moment, i realize I do not pass through time, but time passes through me, just as music passes through me, and fingers pass through my hair.

Suddenly, without warning, the sacred prayer arrives at my lips. “May I use this ecstasy to benefit others. May I not keep it to myself. May all beings be free.” The holy wish outshines the music and ushers me into the secret room where I commune with the Great Heart and Mind of Love herself, the heart of Compassion, the heart of the Deity with a thousand caring eyes and hands.

the music is invisible. I move to the music. I finger and hump the invisible beat, i drink the rythms flooding the room, the invisible rivers washing the inward room of its time and personal past. I arrive and arise out of the luminous womb, the pregnant Now from which all universes always come and go and sing and dance to the song of creation. I dance, the stars dance, the universes dance in a blink of the Eye of God, in the I of God, in the Hallway of eternity where we all dance dead already and eternal already. And today I'm sore as hell.

Monday, June 05, 2006

light in light/hikari no naka no hikari

Biking home I heard some crows barking above me. I saw two crows on the power lines screaming madly and at first I thought they were screaming at me. Did I do something wrong? Then, I looked down and right below them on the street was a big, dead crow, black wings and head twisted with red blood coming out of its mouth. I sighed, and admired the scene. The crows continued to yell away, their litany of cries fading into the distance as I peddled home.

I used that experience as a death omen and felt the sun shine a little brighter on my face. I smiled and said hello to an old lady walking with her walker.

People usually misinterpret death omens, in my opinion. I mean, sure, if you see a death omen, it usually means you are going to die. But not necessarily soon. It just reminds you of the fact that one day you will die. And, if you use the omen correctly, an amazing wave of appreciation and excitement can suddenly appear inside you. You realize that your time here is limited, and so, every day must be lived as if it's the last. Everything looks a little brighter than before.

You might see that all things die, all things change; it is just one of the marks of this world. You might even see that the death is a birth, that every ending is also a beginning. And, if you listen closely to the silent core of your own heart in this moment, you might even discover that part of you which will never die. Because it was never born. That Unborn, unformed center of awareness that forever and ever simply is and already is Free and Full and Present as the open, spacious present moment. The I AM.

And then, awake and alive as an unborn, unchanging presence, you might gaze dreamily at the world arising all around you. Now, a brilliant transparent clarity shimmers and glows as the true condition of all manifestation, forms of Light in light. Radiance, and subtle luminosity, all erupting and dissolving in a dance of rainbows against a vast, vast Emptiness.

So, when I rolled into the bike parking lot of my apartment building, I saw one of the little boys I usually see playing outside squatting, eyes fixed on something small on the cement. I approached curious and found a big, beautiful, blue and green and orange hairy caterpillar with wet slime coming out of its end. “Oh no!” I said. “What happened?” (Even though, I already knew what happened.) I looked at the boy, holding a tiny stone in his hand. Suddenly the little boy burst into tears. Balling. Crying his eyes out. I comforted him, put my hand on his back, but also took this opportunity to do what my mother did to me once. I asked him if he liked animals. He nodded. Then I asked him why he would want to hurt one like that. “You know, it will be a butterfly soon. Did you know that?” He nodded his head and cried some more. Now I felt bad. So I said, “hey, look, it’s still alive. Don’t worry.”

A vision of the past suddenly flooded into my awareness. I was 6 or 7, same age as this kid. I used to climb trees and steal eggs from nests, take them home and dissect the dying fetus under my desk light in my room. So, one day, my mother caught me dissecting a stolen robin’s egg under my desk lamp. Gleaming with pride I peered up at her, smiling, being an accomplished scientist and all, but I did not meet a happy face, no. She glared in horror at the slimy mess on my desk, shocked. “How could you?" she said in a cold, serious voice. “I thought you loved animals!”
I immediately burst into tears and yelled, “I do love animals!”
“Well, imagine how that baby bird’s mother feels now. Or what kind of pain that little bird is feeling on your desk.” We both stood silent for a moment.
My mother then said the coldest, cruelest words I will ever hear. “I am very disappointed in you.” She turned and left, and I was alone, crying, with a dying fetus on my desk. I never did it again.

The worst thing I have ever done to an animal I think (besides buying tortured meat) was when I was about 10 and some friends and I caught a huge bullfrog at the creek and then I threw it into the street to see it get hit by a car. Almost immediately, before my very eyes, a car smashed into the frog just as it hopped, and somehow it was flung to the curb directly in front of me, it’s entire insides enclosed inside a slimy white sack now hanging out of his mouth. The frog was still moving, twitching. I was disturbed, uneasy with the fact that I did that to him. Although, I think I laughed and acted fascinated at the time.
My friends and I did some weird ass shit at that creek.

Anyway, I took a picture of the boy crying (if you look carefully you can see the caterpillar's long trail of slime.) and then went up to my apartment. For the first time in ages, when I got home I did not immediately go over to the computer to find out if anyone had emailed me. I didn’t go outside to work on my frames either, even though I have less than two weeks to finish them all. Instead, I turned off my cell phone, went into my studio, opened the windows to let in the cool evening air, and spent the remainder of the night painting.
Can you find the caterpillar and the Buddha?

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I just read about the Haditha massacre. I also found this painting by Brawley i have never seen. It's called "Gnosis."

May all beings be Free and in Love.

Blog Archive