Archive for the ‘mandala’ tag
I have been adding a new, well I better say that I am revisiting painting as part of my process. This isn’t my first mandala nor will it be the last, in my opinion. As I turned my towards my art supplies shelving, I sensed that it was time to pull out materials for this water-colour drawing. I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen for awhile until it became obvious that I was going to draw a mandala. With this realisation came a bit of panic for I didn’t have the tools needed for drawing circles or straight lines. All of these things are in my home in Saskatchewan. I was beginning to think that the mandala could wait another week when I return to my home when an idea decided to interrupt my attempts at putting off the expression of psyche that was bubbling – use cups, bowls and other round objects to create the circles; use the edge of various straight objects to draw lines; and most importantly, don’t worry about exactness.
Over a period of about forty-eight hours, this is what emerged in bits and pieces. I painted what came up and then set aside the paint until something else called me to be added to the mandala. I still don’t know what it means but I can catch bits of hints. Obviously it is a self-portrait of sorts that wants me to acknowledge complexity as well as unity. The Chinese characters above the eye are how my students in China would sometimes address me – Lao Luo (in Chinese my name is Luo BoTe). It is a warm and respectful way to address a teacher whom is liked and cared for. Turning the image upside down and the Chinese characters then say Lao Shi, or teacher. This was my role in China and for more that thirty years before China, my role in Canada. As for the eye itself, it could be looking at me, or it could be me looking out at the rest of the world. Surrounding the Chinese characters is a sort of altered medicine wheel that hints at First Nations ancestry mixed in with my French and Austrian heritage. The next layer is a quartet of Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags from which four “almost” triangles emerge as representative of the lotus flower, an image that I must have photographed hundreds of times while in Asia. Black and white squares – consciousness and shadow, masculine and feminine – contained polarities. And finally, the outer layer which is still a mystery.
The process of creating this mandala reminded me of something Guy Corneau had said in his workshop and presentations – healing begins when ego gets out of the way. When we stay in our minds and refuse to listen to the body, the spirit and the soul, we do more damage than good. For a change, I got out of the way and didn’t try to control the process. And in the process, I discovered a sense of wholeness in spite of the many divergent fragments – a lesson for me to learn and bring into other aspects of my life.
I took another set of hundreds of photos today and have trimmed the lot so that only three hundred photos remain from the day’s efforts. I then ended up selecting this photo taken a few days ago though there were a fair number that I had thought would be used for today’s post while taking them. This photo was what was needed for me today so I decided to honour the pull to it and present it here. It’s a simple photo not too unlike a mandala to my mind. The image isn’t symmetrical or balanced, but it works. It wasn’t until the third viewing of the photo, after it was placed here in this post that I noticed the Buddhist swastika, a mandala unto itself, in the bottom right of the circle.
My original thought was of being on the inside, looking out – in the dark, looking toward the light with a yearning. And what was to be found in the light wasn’t in focus, couldn’t be objectified and so kept its numinous quality, its mystery. As I peer through the barriers of my ego and filters, I can only see these barriers clearly. I know that I have to take these dark lines, these projected pieces back into my self if I am to attain the light.
I begin to wonder if perhaps this is a call for me to once again turn to meditation. I wonder but know that I will wait, hold the tension to see what else pulls me before committing to a turn in the road that is my journey of individuation.
The subject line for this post is called “The Transparent Self.” In a way, they share more in common that would originally be noted. The Transparent Self is a book I picked up a long time ago, a book that sits on my book shelf back in my home in Canada. The author of the book is Sidney Jourard. Since my copy of the book is thousands of kilometres from where I sit as I compose this post, I will have to make do with what I found doing e-searches on the computer.
Jourard’s book as I remember it, is about man learning to disclose his “self” in order to become whole, more capable of a healthy relationship with “self” and “other.”
“We begin life with the world presenting itself to us as it is. Someone – our parents, teachers, analysts – hypnotizes us to ‘see’ the world and construe it in the ‘right’ way. These others label the world, attach names and give voices to the beings and events in it, so that thereafter, we cannot read the world in any other language or hear it saying other things to us. The task is to break the hypnotic spell, so that we become undeaf, unblind, and multilingual, thereby letting the world speak to us in new voices and write all its possible meaning in the new book of our existence.”
“We camouflage our true being before others to protect ourselves against criticism or rejection. This protection comes at a steep price. When we are not truly known by the other people in our lives, we are misunderstood. When we are misunderstood, especially by family and friends, we join the “lonely crowd.” Worse, when we succeed in hiding our being from others, we tend to lose touch with our real selves. This loss of self contributes to illness in its myriad forms.” (courtesy of Coyote Prime)
As you can see, this is another mandala from April of 1998. This one is built on the first one though at the time I never knew this. The first one had a fleur-de-lys at the centre, a symbol of my French Canadian roots. The half fletched arrows speak to more roots, aboriginal roots. The two together are called Métis.
This mandala honours the four directions, four forces – air, earth, fire and water, the sense of wholeness embodied with the inclusion of the unconscious. At the centre, yin and yang.
The weather is quite cool, hanging around the freezing mark under dark skies. A light snowfall during the night has now melted leaving everything damp and slippery. It feels colder than it really is – a good day to do some work on the computer, a good day to write, my way of getting to know myself better.
Most people confuse self-knowledge of their conscious ego-personalities. Those with any ego-consciousness at all take it for granted that they know themselves. But the real psychic facts are for the most part hidden. The ego knows only its own contents, which are largely dependent on social factors. Without some knowledge of the unconscious and its contents one cannot claim to know oneself. (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, 1998, p. 133)
Okay, so this isn’t a photo. This is one of my “works” that I scanned two days ago along with three other images that will find their way here. Two of the images are of mandalas and two of the images are taken from dreams. Before I drew this image, I had felt it building within me (I kept a journal which was updated periodically during the day with brief notes) and decided to let it “brew” within me before I actually sat down to let the image emerge. In reading my notes from that time, I saw that even when the image was completed, I still didn’t “know” what it was all about. It simply was something that happened.
Of course, it didn’t take much thought after the fact to see that the mandala was mostly about providing clues to the question, “Who am I?” The answer isn’t often very clear. What is clear though, is that it is in moments where there is tension, where there is conflict, that the inner aspects of self take on a bit more shape. Such was the situation when this image emerged. At that time, the very foundations of who I was was being assaulted, a fortunate occurrence as it unlocked me from my self-imposed straight jacket in which I forced anything that would disturb the status quo of my presence in the outer world into the darkness.
This image told me I was more than the outer collection of personae. It talked to me of hidden, denied roots. And in doing so, I began to feel again.
The Temple of the Seven Dolls, a different Mayan structure from all others found in Mexico built in the 7th century, sits at the centre of the Dzibilchaltun Mayan ruins. It is a square building with four sets of stairs and entrances that correspond to the four cardinal directions – north, east, south and west. On each wall there are two sets of windows, one on each side of an entrance. During the spring and fall equinoxes, the sun’s rays flow directly through the east and west entrances to flow down the sacbe (white road) to a smaller square structure, a sundial, which also has four sets of steps. At the summer solstice, the sun’s rays enter the north-east window of the north wall and exit at the north-west window of the west wall. During the winter solstice, the sun’s light enters through the south-east window of the south wall to exit through the south-west window of the west wall. In this photo, I am looking out at the sundial and the sacbe that goes on through the Mayan grounds.
Again, I wondered at what is drawing me out here to speak. The sun, a quaternity – a mandala on a grand scale.
AS ITS fourfold structure indicates the mandala is a symbol of totality, forming, like the Platonic world-soul, a rounded whole “sufficient to itself,”1 a complete being “organised in accordance with its own internal laws”. 2 For Jung the mandala is a symbol of the Self, that psychic totality which is indescribable except in antinomies and indistinguishable from the imago Dei. Its essential nature is unavoidably irrational and irrepresentable, for the union of opposites is a paradox beyond our comprehension. But the age-old mandala is not a rational product of discriminating consciousness; like all true symbols it stems from unconscious sources of creativity, which transcend or predate the world-creating division of opposites. (The Meaning of the Mandala, Philip Williams, June 2000)
The “Self”, the unconscious well-springs of the “self”, the source of the unifying principal within each of us. It’s amazing how so many ideas of C.G. Jung’s are finding an outward expression in this ancient land of the Mayans.