A Wise Man’s Tale

Long ago, times were different but the quests of man proved timeless. In every ancient civilization or distant village there was sure to emerge at some point a wise old man.

Once in a remote land, emerged a wise old man. He was discovered sitting under a great big tree outside the bounds of a village. Nobody knew him, yet his ability to offer meaningful, personal messages to any seeker was unparalleled. In fact, word of this wise old man spread like wildfire and before long, groups of pilgrims showed up in the nearby village asking to be led to his whereabouts. Every day, as if by some unspoken agreement, the old man could be found sitting under the same great big tree–silent, yet ready to impart wisdom. 

Even though the wise old man would only give out one message per pilgrim, that did not stop a great line from forming, as people could not help but feel a deep curiosity and wonder for this venerable sage. 

I was such a man. Upon first hearing word of this mysterious wise man, I had quickly made preparations to set off on what was surely to be a great pilgrimage. After all, I had burning questions that just could not wait. 

After arriving in the village, I had spent the next three days in line, trying to get a good glimpse of the old man as he met with each pilgrim. Each meeting would begin in the same fashion. A seeker would approach the wise man who would gesture for him to take a seat in front of him. Then, the old man’s lips would move briefly, followed by a long pause. Sometimes the pause was only a minute; other times it could last 10 minutes. Or in one man’s case, it had taken nearly one hour before the old man spoke again. What had the old man said before the pause? This was a burning question that each one of us pilgrims would soon learn the answer to. 

After receiving the wisdom, some would leave solemnly. “Now it all makes sense,” they would say. Some would leave in tears, “That’s all I’ve ever wanted to hear.” And some would approach the line of waiting pilgrims saying, “He truly is the wisest old man!”

How will I leave? What will I say? I wondered. Slowly, the line moved forward.

Finally, it was my turn. With great anticipation I approached the old man who gestured with his hand for me to sit. Now, I would hear the words before the pause! I thought to myself. Every part of my body felt on high alert. Whatever words were to come, I’d take them in fully and well.  

“Match the stillness of this tree,” said the old man.

“What?” I blurted out.

The old man had already closed his eyes. And so I sat bewildered for a moment before closing my eyes, too. I struggled to swallow as a ball of confusion in my throat could not be released.   

The stillness of this tree.. match it. How, though? He’s not going to tell me, is he? At first I could not control the scattering of my own thoughts. New ones appeared with the momentum that the previous ones had created. Eventually, I came to the realization that every person who had sat here before me must have been able to cope with the same mysterious instruction, and so I decided to give it a try. 

With eyes closed, I began to watch myself go into a deeper inward state. My swirling thoughts remained, but became more distant as if they were children taking their noisy play, further and further away. Soon I was not paying attention at all to the noise of the children, but reaching towards the stillness of the tree in hopes of matching it. 

As I sat very still, I began to notice something. It was like a vague presence or a sensing. What is this sense? And just as if I’d spoken the wondering aloud, a reply came.

Sit in this stillness, and you will get all your answers.

No sooner had I received this piece of guidance, then the wise old man bid me farewell. My eyes popped open to see his hand already gesturing for the next pilgrim to be guided forward. Awkwardly, I thanked him and stumbled away, confused.

I felt many eyes on me as I walked past the remaining line of pilgrims, but I was too confused and in a daze to care how they saw me. As I made my way back to the nearby village, a sinking feeling of disappointment grew from my confusion. Had the old man gotten tired during my visit? Is that why he spoke only one sentence? The more I questioned what had happened back there under the shade of that large tree, the deeper I sank into disappointment. Nothing could erase the fact that I had come all this way looking for answers, and I hadn’t gotten any. 

The trek back to my own village was a slow and solemn one. My will to seek answers to my questions had suffered from this pilgrimage, and it was with a heavy heart–as if something had died in me– that I approached the familiar place I called home. 

I painted a smile on my face as I was greeted by neighbors and friends. Their children pulled at my sleeves to see what gifts I’d brought back. I promised them all the juiciest story about meeting the wisest old man under a great big tree that evening. Seeing their eyes light up in anticipation, my heart began to accept that it had come home again and that all could resume as normal.  

Several days passed, and it was on my walk back from collecting kindle wood that I stumbled upon a little girl from the village no more than 8 years old sitting in the shade of a tree. I paused to watch what she was doing, and soon realized that she was sitting completely still. My heart began to move and thump as if trying to speak to me through my chest. A million things became clear to me as it did. A man could walk for days to meet the wisest old man, and come back empty-handed. Yet, a little girl could listen to a story and explore its wisdom by trying to taste it herself.

Overcome with curiosity, I decided to go and ask the little girl if she had gotten any answers.

The End

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Author’s note:

Thumbnail sketches

When I hear the phrase, “information age” I think of turning to the internet for answers. The power that comes with a simple click of a button connecting us to our answers is beyond seductive. However, trouble arises when we rely less and less on our own direct connection to wisdom and life experience and replace it with the belief that something outside of ourselves has our answers. When this delicate balance of looking outward and looking inward is upset, we can unintentionally give our power away to whoever or whatever we view as the “authority.” In doing so, we can also begin the practice of invalidating ourselves by not turning inward and building trust in ourselves. If this continues, we can lose touch with our own power before it has had a chance to really blossom. 

When this story came through, I immediately identified with the seeker–the man who went out of his way to meet the wise old man in a distant land. Then, as the story unfolded, I took a step back and observed more quietly in the background. Was the wise old man really wise? Or was he wise only when he matched the stillness of the tree? And when the seeker heard the reply to sit in stillness to get all his answers, had that reply come from the wise old man, or the seeker’s own connection to wisdom? At first I wanted to know, but then I saw the wisdom in not saying either way. 

I remember being a little girl and being less conditioned by society as well as still very ignorant to the goings-on of the world. I think I would have loved to hear this story back then. When we are so young and innocent, our connection to Nature is naturally so much stronger. We can listen to a story like this and not for a moment think that wisdom is only for some people depending on their age and or gender. In fact, this story is not a tale about a wise man at all; but a simple demonstration of the wisdom that can be found when we commune with Nature. 

My wish today is that, especially during this time of year, the child in each of us can look at this simple act of matching the stillness of a tree and just know there are gifts–perhaps meaningful personal messages for us–waiting in the light for us.. 

..that just like wisdom, gifts don’t always have to be found outside of ourselves. 

                                                      ………………………….

No matter who or where a story comes from, moments of movement and moments of stillness can be found embedded within it. This precious balance can be seen in any form of wisdom and it is the fundamental key in the ancient human quest for answers. Even the relationship between the state of questioning and the state of having answers can be simplified into this duality of movement and stillness. 

When we sit simmering in our questions, there is great movement within. In matching the stillness of a tree, these questions stop simmering and eventually can become still. In the simple absence of questions, or absence of mental activity we experience while questioning, it is akin to having the answers. We allow ourselves to experience a deeper stillness. Rather than looking for the answers to your questions, what happens when we allow ourselves to stop asking questions? When we practice the stillness that we assume comes after we get our answers?  

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Divine Menagerie

None of us created the animals on the earth. Aside from breeding already existing animals, they have come to be here on their own accord. They are our neighbors and in many ways, they are our teachers. Being wild, it is difficult to get into close proximity with a large variety of animals, but I imagine that when people more of the land would encounter animals back in the day, they must have received their messages and teachings. I want to be more of the land again.. 

I wrote the above passage barely a week ago, and–as of this morning– I think my longing has been heard. I’ll explain.

A Divine Visitor

Your meditation spot can be as sacred of a space as you would like to make it. You can sit on a cushion on the floor, light a candle to signal commencement, and choose a time of day that works with your schedule. My meditation spot is a chair in my bedroom facing the open window. I like the early morning like 5 or 5:30am, when it’s often still dark outside, but a hint of something in the air tells you that morning light is on its way. This was exactly the case this morning as I headed towards my meditation spot after doing some stretches in the living room. I returned to the dark bedroom where a subtle twilight glow gave everything a little bluish shimmer. I walked over to my chair by the window, and screamed.

Was it a rodent?! No, it was large and dark feathered, sleeping in the window sill. Well, sitting on top of the netting right outside the window sill–the very netting that had been repaired a couple of weeks ago for the purpose of keeping such feathered friends away. The bird was darkly colored, but I could not tell very well because it was too dark outside. Also, its head happened to be twisted and tucked so deeply into its body in such a way that it looked headless!! I turned the light on and by then, Norm had come over to see what all the fuss was about. For a few moments we stood there in awe of the aliveness of the ruffled dark creature, though it had yet to move. Eventually, Norm left and I decided to try to welcome the energy of this divine visitor into my morning meditation space–after all, I DO love birds. 

So, I sat down in my chair and closed my eyes. …But no matter how I tried to approach the task, something was just too eerie about this bird. This was because it still hadn’t budged an inch since I’d discovered its presence and even screamed in its face. I wanted the satisfaction of seeing it move even just a little. I decided to tap on the window sill with a paint brush *tap tap tap* and then spoke to it. 

“Oh, mister biiiiiiiiiirrd. Are you sleeping here?” I flickered the bedroom lights on and off and tapped all around the window, doing everything but poking at it through the screen. Nothing. 

Ok.. It might be dead. Though I thought I could sense its aliveness, I very quickly could tell myself a story about how the bird was old and tired, came to my window sill, tucked its head in tightly and died in its sleep. It could be very possible for a bird to die in such a way and rigor mortis set in, freezing up its legs while it had been grasping the netting which would explain why the bird looked so solid and upright. 

“Forget it,” I thought to myself. I no longer want to do my morning meditation with this creature in my space–divine or not–dead or not. So, I left to meditate out in the living room. 

I won’t go into too much detail about my meditation, but here are the big bits. Among the energies active in my space was adrenaline and a lot of questioning. So, I flushed those energies out and replenished with fresh Nowness energy. Once I became more centered, I decided to look at the energy of the bird still in my space. Yup, it was still there. Time to take it out of my space–dead or not. Despite all the dizzying early morning excitement, I still could see the bird as a divine visitor and smile about a few things. 

After all, hadn’t I said that I wanted to be more of the land? To feel connected to the wild animals? 

Painting of the extinct Hawaiian bird Po’ouli.

Well, I’m laughing to myself and waking up to the realization that I am having a morning adventure. These are good signs. Meditation lasted about 22 minutes. “Who knows,” I thought to myself, “maybe when I go back to the bedroom later, dead rigor mortis bird will magically be gone.” As I walked down the hallway about to turn into the bathroom, I glanced at the window sill in the bedroom expecting to see that dark headless lump. 

But I didn’t see any darkness. So, I ran into the room right up to the window and was shocked to find that the bird was gone! Not a feather remained. Staring at nothing but net, a burst of awe like a personal energetic super nova of playfulness passed through me. Along with it came realizations. It was never a rigor mortis bird. It WAS a divine visitor! ..and the aliveness I had felt was real. 

After the inner super nova dissipated, I had just one thing to say:

“That is NOT an alert bird.”

__________

Divine Menagerie

Along with this headless rigor mortis bird, there are other divine visitors I will definitely not be forgetting any time soon. Like this albino? gecko that greeted me after a run one morning.

I’ve since seen nothing remotely similar! Once I woke up to a giant moth the size of my hand chilling on the wall of the lanai. It hung around as I wrote a blog post that morning.

I consider animals that show up in my head to be divine visitors as well. In fact, those visitors are sometimes even more mysterious, especially considering the circumstances in which they make their unplanned appearance. 

A little over a year ago, I was sitting in my living room completely spaced out. I had borrowed a book from the library on birds of Hawaii. I recalled the librarian who had helped me check out my books. She informed me I had some late fines to pay, so I gave her what I owed. She dawdled at the cash register for a bit then came back with my change: one quarter. “There’s a sea bird on that quarter,” she said, looking me straight in the eyes. She must have seen that bird book I was borrowing. I took that quarter with the magic dust she’d sprinkled on it and dropped it into my coin pouch. 

It was in this daze of reminiscing in my living room that one by one these cute fluffy birds appeared in my head–flying and bouncing into invisible walls with tiny eyes that were wide open just like that librarian’s eyes had been when she looked straight at me.

Me being me, I instinctively grabbed a paintbrush and painted what I’d seen. As the paint dried, I looked down at my three divine visitors. What fluffy birds in flight; all with such tiny heads. Wherever you guys come from, I’d like to go visit there.

This next divine visitor also appeared in my head. It was around a time recently when I was in the middle of making a big decision. Suddenly, the stoic image of a light brown bunny wearing a red cape blowing in the wind popped into my inner view. Bunnies always look hyper-alert to me. Their noses wiggle as they breathe somewhat nervously, and do they ever even blink their eyes? Yes, bunnies are cute and cuddly looking, but the lesson of the bunny– from what I see –is one of bravery.

Be brave!

It’s the smallest and most fragile of animals that require the most bravery to live alongside large, sharp fanged beasts in the wild. And a bunny in a cape must be that message amplified another notch. Be braver than your normal. Be a more super-you version of you. Ok, red-caped bunny; message received!

Then, there is the lesson of the koala. I grew up knowing very deeply that my grandma loves koalas.. so much that I think a part of me doesn’t draw a very distinct line between the koala and my grandma. (The same can be said about my aunt and hippopotamuses). When a person is drawn so deeply to an animal, it is a really special thing. No one has told me this, I just feel it in my bones. So, when this koala showed up in my head chewing on a eucalyptus leaf, I thought to myself, “Grandma!” 

“Grandma!”

Once upon a time out of the magical void of creation came this super peculiar creature that only eats one thing and sleeps 20 hours a day. Basically, it eats and sleeps. What kind of lesson is this? Why, that sounds like rejuvenation. It also tells me that we should take the time to find the one thing that we need to eat to nourish ourselves. Maybe something is more easily accessible, but as lazy as the koala may seem, it doesn’t just eat whatever is nearby, it knows it must find and eat the one and only thing that can nourish it. That is quite the lesson!! Thank you koala.

Next in my divine menagerie is this long-legged pink fellow. The long-legged part of me relates to the flamingo, except my legs are not as thin. What kind of intelligence must the flamingo store in its legs? Something that lets it feel so secure and in balance that it only really needs one to perch on while it rests.

“Have some fun with what you got!”

Its pinkness is really cheerful and uplifting. Along with so much expression taken from its long black curved beak.. so many parts of this creature can seem awkward to the eye (like that twistable neck!) yet the flamingo looks to have a steady, pleasant outlook. “Find balance and have some fun with what you got.” How you look on the outside to someone else doesn’t have to be how you feel on the inside. And anything that is pink and walks around in life is sure to bring out some amusement in others, don’t you think?  

________________

Adolescent Mo-Chan

My final story is one from my childhood. I have been called Mo-Chan ever since I can remember. So much, that I never felt comfortable being called Maureen. It was as if the name belonged to someone else. There was a lot of plasticity to my identity as a child, that carried into the awkward years as I ripened into an adult. How did we walk that dividing path? With one leg in childhood and one leg in the widening perception of adulthood? What parts of the child did you hold on to? Or did you reluctantly let a lot go? 

For me, on particular days that I felt I needed to be closer to the “real” me, I would put on skunk ears. You know, those furry headbands with ears attached to them that people often wear during Halloween? I had a pair of skunk ears–black furry pointed ears with a nice tuft of white that fluffed out between them.

I never explained to anyone why I would put them on, not even to myself. It was just something that needed to happen sometimes. I’d put them on and sit down to play around on the piano. Or I’d put them on, wrap myself up in a blanket and hobble around the house on the weekend. There was one great picture of me on Easter (I think), in an oversized tie dye shirt, with a quilt wrapped around me like a long skirt, laying on the driveway with my skunk ears on shielding my eyes with one hand from the glare of the sun. My black and white cat Bushy was sniffing at my horizontal self. This was how I really indulged in being Mo-Chan back then. I did and did not know what I was doing. I was just being myself.

Nowadays, I practice sitting with myself and feeling if the skunk ears are on or not. How “me” am I right now? How concerned am I with explaining to others who, what, and the whys of my life? This is an interesting thing to reflect on especially during this time of year when it is normal for many people to dress up in costume. Maybe we assume we are dressing up as something else, but maybe we are letting ourselves embrace a part of us that we don’t “let out” so often in our lives. Express some part of ourselves, no questions asked and with no need for explanation. We get to come together as we are and all play the same game!  

Self-expression–whether you are painting a picture or dressing up in clothing–is about practicing being ourselves. How well can you do it? (Not how nice do other people say you or your painting look.) How close do you get to your authentic self? As I write this, I check to see if the skunk ears are still on..

One easy way for me to know that I am accessing or aligned with my skunk ears-self is when I paint or draw something that EVEN surprises me.

I love being surprised by myself, because I believe in that moment, an assumption we have carried is brought into light. Otherwise, why would we experience surprise?? The assumption might be as simple as, “the world is known to me; I am known to me; there isn’t much else out there.” Then BAM!! You see something (in the physical or not) that brings you a rush of surprise. And when an assumption is brought to light, it is automatically destroyed by the experience of surprise itself. So, if you can be surprised by yourself, you can keep your brain from indulging in too much “I know that already” chatter and maybe even begin to look for surprises–really believe that you don’t know the half of everything.. not even close. 

From Left: Me with Ehu (@ehudog) and her human (my dear friend) Lisa <3
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Thinking and Being

Being

I sat across from a particular houseplant recalling that it has two common names: Snake Plant, and Mother In-Law’s Tongue. I don’t think either name fits it, so I sat there just letting it be itself without attaching a name to it. Although I find it’s easier to practice doing something like this with things that we are not as familiar with, it is possible to do so with the familiar as well. I remember I used to practice doing this as a young adult when I was more actively learning my second language: Japanese. A part of me somehow felt it was important to be able to see a thing as having another name and for it to feel real enough that I could associate the quality of the sound of that name and any other nuances with the thing.

After a while of doing this, I began to be able not only to see a thing as having two names in two different languages, but I found a space that existed between the things and whatever names were given to them.

I believe that space is the space of being.

Before it had a name, it just was.

It’s a quiet, still space that lets a thing just be. After years of grappling with the headaches of trying to be a balanced hapa (I’m half Japanese and half white), I began to let myself exist in that space, too. Then, I began to see that people around me could exist in that space. You may speak a certain language(s), be from a certain country, call yourself specific titles and names, and have worked hard to create a certain reputation for yourself, but in that space, we lose all the labels and associations. All of the conceptual, mental weight can be released and you can just be. 

Thinking vs Being

Everyone has a unique essence and embodies a great aliveness. The more we practice experiencing our world from this light, still space, the more it becomes obvious that everyone matters. Not that conceptually we all matter (because that is what is collectively deemed fair and just), but a feeling inside us that grows to just embody this wisdom without needing to put words to it. Our actions become an effortless extension of this wisdom, and we are more able to be honest with ourselves and our current level of maturation as a human being–not measured in years lived, but in this sort of cultivated and ripening inner wisdom. I like to think even if I met an alien from another planet one day, that I am well prepared to see them and treat them as existing in this space of being as well.

What’s been confusing in my own journey of accessing the present moment through being, is understanding that we cannot think our way into being. The thinking mind is something we can detach our awareness from and we can little by little sink into stillness and taste what “being” feels like. 

Discovery on a morning walk.

I had tried the gratitude practice of writing things down that I am grateful for, however, I personally found myself not actually glowing in the feeling of gratitude. I was THINKING my way to the feeling, but the feeling never came. Using the thinking mind to try to get to a feeling can backfire if you are like me and mentally bully yourself sometimes >< We might compare our situation to others, or tell ourselves we shouldn’t feel the way we do, instead we should feel THIS way. The next thing you know you are split in two: the part of yourself that simply feels as it feels, and the other part of yourself that is condemning that part of yourself. 

Greater awareness came when I would immerse myself in creative activities. I realized that I would more easily disengage with my thoughts and all my energy became more fluid and cooperative in whatever it was I was doing. Even though I was still doing something, I was thinking less and was flowing more..coming closer to being

Quick value study in chalk pastel.

Unnamed Being

As most of us rely on spoken language as a means to think, then our awareness may become limited to those things which are already established in the language we speak. However, there are no words for many things. That doesn’t mean the thing does not exist, maybe it is just harder to perceive because there is no paved context. Until our awareness is brought to this unnamed thing, we may go a lifetime being blind to its existence. Examples of becoming aware of these blind spots are abundant also when learning another language later in life as I did. 

I remember the day my cousin taught me the meaning of “otsukaresama” in Japanese. We had just spent the whole afternoon shopping for odds and ends that I would need for my new life in Tokyo. “Is it like ‘good job’?” I remember asking. She said it was a feeling that both people involved felt. We both exerted effort in a kind of togetherness while tackling a task. By saying “otsukaresama” we were acknowledging this feeling. These were my first insights into a phrase that I would continue to hear a countless number of times in daily Japanese life. How could a feeling that is so common to an entire country of people, not even exist in my mother tongue? It was only one of MANY examples of words and phrases that acknowledge situations and feelings that were completely new to me. 

“Otsukaresama.” Read more of these examples in my post, “Hidden Japanese Treasures.”

Of course, you don’t have to learn a second language to have this experience, it is the mindfulness practice behind the experience that enables the shift.

In the “being” state, we may sense many “sights” and occurrences that we don’t have to put into words. We can have other personal “languages” or modes of expression we can funnel the “sights” through. I think music or fine art are examples of such personal languages. 

When I was a teenager learning the piano on my own, I remember imagining being blind and wondering how that could heighten a person’s sensitivity to energy. I didn’t call it “energy” back then, but I knew there was subtle information that a blind person was better at receiving and interpreting in the presence of someone or something. I imagined a blind street musician who you could walk up to and after a moment of reading your energy, they would create music as a means of expressing what they interpreted in that energy–their own unique language expressing your unique energy! 

When you practice using and developing a personal language, there’s a kind of satisfaction that comes with increased fluency over time. The satisfaction may be silent and personal. No matter how much we want others to feel or taste our satisfaction, it may come in a completely different form for another person. This illustrates the futility in attempting to critique each other’s art forms. With mastery over time–meaning a steadfast dedication to becoming fluent in our own unique language(s)–heads may turn and see that quality of our essence shining through whatever apparent sensory experience we have woven. However, I don’t think it is the product itself that touches another person, but the undeniable essence of one’s heart and soul emanating from their work. 

Memory Play

“Mangoscape”

I have painted the same thing three times now. Each time I base it off of one highly charged positive memory from the past. What I’ve discovered is that each version is quite unlike the one before it. How could it be the same positive memory then? Each time I recall the memory and channel it through me into the form of a visual image, it looks completely different. 

After examining the nature of memories a little, I am inclined to view them as a sort of working canvas. A memory does not have to be defined or set in stone. The actual experience that the memory represents is a portrayal of the past that we carry with us, but we can learn to build and layer thought and emotion onto it in a way that helps us move forward with more ease. We do not have to feel that our pasts define us.

In other words, we do not have to give our power now to our pasts.

In my case, the memory that I say I recreated for the third time is more of a representation of my current self than my past self. The current self is the one who expressed itself. No one is still the person they were in the past, although some people can get stuck reliving their pasts–good or bad.

The past is like the language of yesterday. There is always a new language we can be receptive to, today.. right now. The intention behind each of these three paintings was always to depict one seemingly frozen experience from the past, except that since I was predominantly painting a re-creation of the feeling of the joy and magic I had felt then (more so than a realistic image of a thing), my current self was only able to access its current experience of joy and magic because that is where those states of being truly exists: in this present moment. The memory itself has become a trigger for experiencing joy, but that joy is the joy of now– it is not the joy I felt then. Both memories and thoughts can trigger emotion in this way.

When our nervous system is out of balance, we may find that memories and thoughts trigger more emotion than actual present moment experiences. For example, we may be looking at a beautiful sunset or night sky, but the colors are not reaching deeply into us, and the noise in our head and disruption in our hearts and gut may feel more real than what is right in front of us. 

Red Aurora Borealis

Physically, I am here, but as my thoughts and emotions are tied up with some ongoing sense of unfinished business that needs to be dealt with conceptually, I am postponing my access to the present moment. I am not fully present. I am THINKING, not BEING. My awareness– my energy– is scattered.

The JOY and BEING connection

What is more important than joy? I’ve written about the inner smile previously and shared my personal experience of a short moment in time when the most overwhelming amount of joy I’ve ever felt in my life thus far, seeped into every available nook and cranny of my being. It was perhaps overwhelming because my energy was not split. No thoughts or emotions trespassed on that moment. I was more fully present than I’d ever been before with all my awareness just drinking in that glorious sense of peace and well-being.

I was taught a lot by that experience. One lesson was that I had access to a kind of calm and inclusive positive pervading energy that could be experienced without the need to prove anything to anyone else, including my own self. I recognized some of my own conditioning: to seek validation and to seek permission from others to feel good. I think I did that (we do that) because we have experienced gaining the understanding and acceptance granted to us by others that feels wonderful. However, to my great surprise, other people do not need to be a variable in our experience of or access to feeling complete. Joy found me that day and there was no reason for it, I did not somehow deserve it extra that day.  

Joy Bird

There is nothing to prove to myself or others so that I may deserve to feel good in any moment. My body has a wisdom that my mind lacks. A body-mind able to feel joy and pleasure is the mark of true health and well-being. Life is really over complicated when we give our power away to others, by needing them to validate, understand, or accept us as we are. We even bully ourselves, convincing ourselves that because we see an aspect of our self or lifestyle that could use improvement, that joy comes AFTER we fix it. Thus, fixing or improving something becomes a prerequisite to feeling good. 

What is the feeling that safety and support brings? What is the feeling behind getting all our basic needs met? What is the feeling behind the idea of good health? What is the feeling behind having a good reputation, good status, and good merit? Being included? What is the feeling behind being good at something? What is the feeling behind being with a beloved pet? What is the feeling behind freedom and no time constraints?

I think on that particular day, I felt the feeling that all those above questions point to but don’t actually guarantee. To say it simply, we all want to feel inner wellness. However, in creating mental traps that keep us feeding into the idea that we cannot experience certain feelings–be it joy, gratitude, or peace–unless a laundry list of conditions are met, we sabotage our access to the present moment where those authentic real states of being are experienced. We perpetually THINK our way down many rabbit holes believing the answer and the joy is somewhere ahead of us, when really if we learned to stop thinking and just sit in stillness, the peace can find us. 

A practice isn’t always about learning to do something. A practice can be learning to stop doing something. 
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Logic of Felt Senses

“Rakkyo”

One of the great wonders of being an individual experiencing the human condition is having a physical body. Generally speaking, a lot of focus and effort in our culture is placed on the outward enhancement of our physical bodies through fitness, fashion, grooming, cosmetics and the like. There is a common desire in us all to maintain a certain level of physical attractiveness to ourselves and to others. Actually, our desires reach beyond our outer appearance touching as many aspects of our lives as we allow. Wherever there is freedom of choice, there is an opportunity to express the uniqueness of the self.

So far, I seem to enjoy painting while standing better than sitting.
I like to place different plants on the table while I write.

How do we know that we are expressing our own uniqueness and not copying someone else’s authentic voice? My current answer is: the less we know of ourselves, the more we may copy others or conform. This is not a bad thing, in fact, I think it is completely natural. It has been my experience that we are largely unknown to ourselves, even into so-called adulthood. 

How will I paint the experience of seeing/being with this flower?
First RD I tried some new colors, but it was too cold and not “me.”

We are born knowing we are as deep as any ocean, but helpless throughout infancy and babyhood, relying on others just to stay afloat. By time we are capable of fending for ourselves, we will have forgotten a lot about our original state. Everything in the shallows is illuminated for all to see. It’s the depths that remain unknown to us and only are revealed through a certain degree of maturation and the ability to turn inward. Loving attention warms us, and all faces of cold adversity waters us. This happens differently and in varying degrees and speeds for every individual. Even so, in life we all get to feel the grace and awe of the occasional sudden revelation. The physical body looks the same on the outside, but inside we have grown– more space becomes available. 

One way to think of revelations is as a natural feeling response to inner growth. The feeling is a phenomenon we can take guidance and assurance from. After all, revelations feel great! That being said, not all inner guidance is as easy to recognize.

I get a kind of “revelation” feeling when I find the color I am after.

Tiny Inner Bells

Some inner guidance is so faint, like a whisper, but not in the form of sound. There are tiny felt senses that can easily go unrecognized and, thus, unacknowledged. Sometimes inner guidance isn’t a specific message, rather a physical response like that which accompanies a revelation. The powerful feeling lets us know something is very relevant to us beyond just our conceptual understanding of it. In this case, a liberating piece of wisdom feels particularly attractive because it causes something that is already inside of us to resonate.  At times it can be something in our unknown depths that surfaces.

When we read words that ring true or inspire us, we can feel a great sense of validation– like a “yes!” experienced by one’s entire body. We might see a color that stops us in our tracks because it “feels good.” In what way does it feel good? Like the word “resonate” suggests, it can feel like a whole bunch of tiny inner bells ringing in harmonious agreement. 

You could say that just as dolphins and whales use echolocation to discover the position of another sea creature in relation to themselves, humans possess a kind of echoinference mechanism. Except instead of using an echo to locate something outside of ourselves, we experience the echo as a resonating inner feeling which allows us to discover more about our deeper selves through that which resonates and draws our attention. 

The Desire Spectrum

What is your banana ripeness preference?

When I use the word desire, like many things in life, it can shift in meaning depending on intensity, subtleties and nuances. For these reasons, I see “desire” as having a spectrum. On one end is the kind of desire that overwhelms us with its power. It is obsession, fanaticism, a persistent wanting that makes it hard for us to concentrate on other things. Basically, on the extreme end it is a “heavy” consuming feeling– an addiction. Then, on the other end, desire can feel much lighter–more like a preference. We think to ourselves, “I’d prefer to eat a banana that is still slightly under ripe, but if it is a day or two riper, I’ll still eat it and find enjoyment. It’s just not my preference.” This is the realm of desire I want to explore here more in regards to each unique individual’s natural constitution.

A little green on my banana please~

There are biological-related desires like being thirsty or hungry that we cycle through so often, we know very well what we need and want. Then, there are other desires that lurk inside us that are less of a circular nature, and more of an artistic or aesthetic nature. They are lighter little tugs and pulls inside that we wouldn’t maybe associate with desire immediately upon registering their presence. I might describe them as gentle preferences that surface. Or soft yearnings. When I paint, I follow these tiny tugs and pulls. I’ve referred to them before as “breadcrumbs” that only appear in the moment at hand, and require our mind to be open.. (empty?) so we can be guided.

When it comes to being a creator, we want our own unique voice to shine through. When we use our imagination, we want to be able to envision things that genuinely excite us and make the tiny inner bells ring. Being in touch with our own personal preferences is the gateway to true individuality and unique self-expression. These gentle preferences are part of a larger inner guidance system that, in a way, is binary like a computer. Everyone experiences a natural response to any given input. In general, there’s positive stimulus and everything else. As I’ve mentioned before, anything that pulls at you from the inside is a breadcrumb on your path.  

I don’t paint with black, so imagining signing my name with black didn’t feel right. “Rakkyo” is the first painting I felt moved to sign.

Too much eccentricity without respect and care for others can prevent us from connecting in a meaningful way with others, yet too much accommodating or pleasing can mute our desires and prevent us from knowing ourselves more deeply. The way I approach maintaining a balance is largely through self observation. The “deeper” I know myself, the deeper other people become as well. For me, “Know thyself” implies some degree of respect for other people and what makes them unique. It is with this sentiment that I indulge more in learning about my own preferences both on and off the canvas. It’s also the unspoken message behind my every creative act. 

Take time to learn about yourself and to see yourself with more discerning eyes rather than judgmental eyes. This creates space so our attention can branch outward to others with the same caring and accepting heart we possess towards our Self.

-Inner guidance <3

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Inner Smile

Recently, I read a passage about the first flower that ever existed reaching towards the sky and blooming. Suddenly one day, the earth may have erupted into thousands of blossoming flowers each displaying vivid colors and spreading a sweet fragrance. The earth would know colors captured in a lively stillness difficult for us to imagine. There were no cameras back then, or people (that we know of). I like to think that in its own way, the creative spirit found a way to capture colors and fragrance as if in a photograph for itself. The creative spirit in humans loves to do the same–capture a feeling through colors, shapes, and anything else available to us. Like a flower, that which we create does not last forever, but the creative spirit continues to move us to create and express itself again and again. 

Third painting of Bird of Paradise

I am learning very gradually what kind of power I have–all of us have. There is a very elementary state of mind that sees a flower and then smiles at its beauty. The mind is used to being stimulated by the outside. When you are born with a blueprint like mine, however, I don’t just want to see a flower and smile, I want to (need to??) create flowers that no one has seen before. It’s as if there are flowers inside of me (or that come through me??) that I myself am blind to, but I just KNOW they are there and it’s my duty to bring them into our lives. Not just flowers, but other forms, colors and nuances.. anything I can learn to manipulate in order to elicit very specific positive feelings in others. 

If you can relate in your own way to the feeling of wanting to create the flowers, then you must also see how this elementary state of mind–alone– is not really sufficient for a life of creation. If I can only smile when something MAKES me smile, then I’m living a life largely dependent on everyone and everything else around me being uplifting, beautiful, and kind. 

Wait though..       

..that doesn’t sound like power. 

Work in progress.

That would mean I’d be limited to feeling good only when looking at a completed painting. (Or completed house renovation, or successful review of a completed work project, or validation from others that we are a good parent, partner, or human being.) ..that I can only feel good around other people who feel good.

Still a work in progress.

The big puzzle –or practice as I like to think of it– is learning how to smile at a blank canvas and each unfinished step along the way.. even during missteps, accidents, and the occasional inner conflict.

I’ve seen the word “alchemy” all over the place these days. For many of us at this moment in our lives, we are facing the task of inner alchemy– to learn what kind of power we truly have over our selves, lives and realities. One transformative concept I continue to practice in my life both on canvas and off is: acceptance.

Acceptance–like forgiveness–isn’t about condoning the behavior and choices of others, it is about detaching your energy and emotion from that which you have no control over.. in other words, it’s about letting go of resistance to what is. Spending energy and attention on that which you do not have control over, usually doesn’t suddenly wield you control later on. We all know this from experience. The subtle emotion may differ and result in different word choices like “worrying” or “anger,” but energetically speaking, what we are doing–spending energy and attention on that which we do not have control over– is generally the same. 

So then, HOW do we learn to summon an inner smile without it being a reaction to outside stimulus?

The paradox: If you don’t believe in it, you won’t see it. If you don’t see it, you won’t believe in it. 

I’ve read that we don’t “create” love or peace, that they are states of being. We don’t create these states of being, we learn to access them. If this is the case, then maybe we can seek to summon an inner smile in the same way. 

Every human is different so the way to make space for an inner smile likely is not the same for everyone. One human tool I can think of to help with this, is learning to use our memories so that they serve us. 

When were you the most at peace with yourself, and surroundings?

When have you experienced the deepest sense of well-being?

For me, these yellow leaves are associated with a strong positive memory.

Ultimately, what I’m calling an inner smile, is a feeling like peace and well-being. We can practice isolating the inner smile, and reprogramming ourselves to see how EVERY human “deserves” to experience the inner smile, and that THAT is truly what feeds the energetic aspects of us just as food feeds our physical bodies. 

My answers to the above questions, surprisingly, had nothing to do with painting. The deepest feeling of peace and well-being I’ve ever felt was when I was practicing stillness and acceptance. I had sat alone and did not ask anything of myself. This experience has since become my personal reference point for growing compassion towards others. There is nothing anyone MUST do to deserve to feel that deep peace and well-being. It felt like an inner “home” that I imagine we all have. You don’t create it, or will it into being, or think it into existence. It’s already there. 

We DO, however, need to be careful about what beliefs we carry around with us. Beliefs become the mental roads available to us. If they are too narrow and rigid, or deny us access to the tools we need to progress in life, then they can sabotage our good intentions and block us from accessing important states of being. It’s a touchy subject, but I’m going to go there briefly: Love. 

In a collective society, a human is taught to “show” love, and naturally, it can become a cultural practice where we have to do certain things to “prove” our love. We’ve made love relational– existing only between certain people. We’ve made it reserved for only those of us who can behave accordingly; often it is only to be exchanged by people of similar proficiency in it. Humans have–as they seem to do best– made sure that love is NOT for everyone. Like a currency, we can even choose to retract love or funnel it elsewhere simply by choosing different behaviors and attitudes. The word “love” now implies far more complexity and intelligence than is even possible for all humans to grasp and definitely leaves love out of reach for other lesser intelligent forms of life in nature. 

My point is: Perhaps it’s actually us humans who have over complicated love.  

Practicing shodo–Japanese calligraphy– allows us to start a fresh new slate MANY times during practice

So, for a moment, let’s strip love of its letters, in fact, let’s start a fresh new slate all together. Any beauty, fuzzy warm feeling, inspiring happening, or generic positive feeling–all of it–let’s call an “inner smile.” And when we smile so big on the inside, naturally, it finds its way to reflect on our outer body in the form of a smile on our face. (Not a forced one, but the kind of smile that happens when we are all alone immersed in pleasantries). 

Learning to reserve a space for that feeling inside is a prerequisite to calling on it at will. I don’t have all the answers, but what I sense is that the way to reserve a space for that feeling inside is to practice acceptance regularly. I’ve mentioned in previous writings how watercolor painting has very much become a kind of meditation for me. The meaning or purpose of meditation may not be something everyone can agree on, however, you could also call it “compassion practice” or “self-observation without judgment,” or “being in the moment.” The main key thing is to suspend judgments of a criticizing nature. 

Practicing something regularly is a great opportunity for inner self-talk examination

Resistance creates tension in the body, so another way to practice acceptance is to work backwards from the pain and tension in the body. Spend some time listening to your body to find the points of tension and then gently stretch them out. As your tension loosens, just pay attention to how much better you feel. Don’t ask anything more of yourself. Relearn what feeling better feels like. 

It sounds silly to say that, but I think it is something a lot of people are out of touch with. Many cultures encourage hard work and sacrifice without realizing just how deeply some people take the message. Another message of recent times is to be optimal, productive, and efficient. None of these messages encourage the kind of stillness, mindfulness, and patience required to cultivate a healthy and happy aligned heart and mind. There is a balance and unity that humans have with Nature that is not being emphasized. 

All we have to do is look around at nature to see so much beauty and awe. Flowers are our ancestors. Their lives are so effortless and yet they bring so much joy. Because we are creative beings, we should look deeper than simply what the world shows us in order to access our power. 

So what power do we have? Perhaps about as much power as a flower.

“Rise” a 10 frame story to celebrate Intnl. Women’s Day https://www.instagram.com/mobearsart/

A vivid green sprout blooming through the cracks of a thick cement wall..

A single pink blossom daring to open in the morning sun on a bloodied battlefield..

A lotus with unfolding petals untouched by the thick mud from which it has risen above.. 

We can embody the wisdom of a flower that does not wilt itself to mirror an onlooker’s feelings, but remains radiant and, therefore, uplifts naturally. If this reality and this life is actually not about what you see, but what you CAN see and come to know looking inward, then each of us has all the power we will ever need.

It is easiest to know love by others showing it to us. But even when they don’t, love is there. It does not belong to anyone, it is a life pulse.. an intelligent one that passes through us when we create the inner space for it. It was there back when the first bud bloomed–like a smile dressed in form, color and scent–and it is still here finding its way through each of us as we learn how to smile from the inside.

You ever wonder what came first, the chicken or the egg? I think neither. I think an inner smile came first. =) 
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Behind Color

When I was a junior in highschool, I was lucky enough to get accepted into an artist apprenticeship program. During the summer, several other students and I worked under the guidance of a professional artist and painted a large mural of a fish jumping out of a hole in a concrete wall. Our days began with loading up various paint brushes, rags, and many tubs of acrylic paint into a truck to drive out to the the mural site. We’d swing from the bars on the three-leveled scaffolding like monkeys, climbing up and down to mix more paint and look at our brush strokes and the contrast of value from a distance. It was summer, but luckily we were shaded under a large road above the walking path the mural faced. However, we still needed to keep spray bottles full of water handy to keep our paints moist as we mixed and color-matched.

It was this hands-on experience with a mentor that taught me how to mix colors, see and recreate values of a colored object–light, medium, and dark. We used large brushes, like the kind you paint a house with, and it goes without saying we got paint all over ourselves in the process. I knew back then as a teenager that I was extremely lucky to have been a part of that art program. I learned each day outside surrounded by nature (the walkway followed a winding creek) and around an abundance of painting supplies and passionate artists. 

Real colorful tree bark! 2013 Dole Plantation, Oahu, HI

It was my second summer in the program when I remember suddenly “growing” new eyes. Perhaps it was the many hours of mixing paint that led to my new pair of eyes, I’m not sure. I just remember one day looking at the bark of a tree and seeing every color in it. In that moment I remember it felt like the colors were speaking to me. I had learned to approach Nature as if she were a companion– someone capable of telling me things. I can recall that moment vividly because I’d never seen color in that way before. 

Many years later I still paint, although with a new favored medium– watercolor. When I was younger, I did a lot of replications and painting from a reference picture. Whereas, in more recent years I have been struck with impulses to paint things more loosely inspired by a variety of input. It doesn’t suffice to paint things that closely resemble how they are. There is a steady drive in me to paint and create based on the experience of being a companion to what it is I see. 

Inspired by a white hanging flower

Colors don’t speak to me in words (at least they have not as of yet!). When my mind is behaving well enough, I’ll experience a lot of beauty, wonder, and awe in Nature. In more recent years, I’ll notice an “aliveness” in things that makes me feel closer to them. Not unlike the experience of growing new eyes while looking at tree bark as a teenager. I laughed at myself as I wrote that, and laughed again the other day when I spontaneously admitted aloud that I’m suddenly into birding. Am I opening up to the world, or is the world opening up to me? Whatever the underworkings may be, I just know I now feel a stronger kinship with Nature than I used to. And as a painter, it feels like I’ve been gifted an abundance of kindlewood to keep the inner creative flame burning strong. 

Painting from memories of childhood

So, what is behind color? 


Allow me a Tangent 

Ok, so maybe watching my mother give birth to my little brother is not exactly an “everyday life experience,” but it illustrates the state of mind I want to convey. Watching a human who was not here, “arrive” and make the transition from womb to the same breathing space was a heightened experience. Being with animals, like a pet cat or dog, can bring on the same state of mind–a living companion or other animated visitor that connects with you on some fundamental level. Another example of an ordinary experience that brings on this particular state of mind, is the feeling of floating on water. We can attune to the sense of the water’s surface tension as well as enjoy temporary relief from the every day–every moment– firm pull of gravity.

What is behind these personal examples of heightened experience, is like what I came to notice in or behind color all around me. Perhaps this has something to do with my desire to translate feelings or states of mind using color. 

When one color sits next to another color, and their differing values create movement, it can be so beautiful.. at the very least it is an experience encapsulated in an image. Your eyes start somewhere, move around, and end somewhere. The image may inspire the viewer or stir up associations or general feelings.

This is the work of art.

For a split second, maybe it can make you feel like you are watching a baby come into the world, or that you are sitting with a pet animal, or floating on water. 

We all smile through our eyes. I love to observe smiling alpacas because their eyes are so big!!

I wonder if the state of mind I’m trying to convey is getting through here? I imagine people have their own unique equivalent experiences. I guess trying to paint a picture in words is not so different from trying to paint a picture using paint. Both are a medium that we use to express something of a more direct nature. Creativity and the desire for self-expression in some form must play a key role in that which makes us human. That invisible energy that pervades everything yet only hints at its existence through everything. 

I keep a small notebook for color mixing

One last note on color for today. Like the moon, we experience light and the perception of color due to the reflection of sunlight. This tells me that we are beings of the sun in that much of our experience of life is largely dictated by and relative to the sun. What this also tells me is that there is more to life that we do not see because we are “blinded” by the sun. It is ironic that that which is the foundation for our experience of sight–the sun’s light–is also one thing that we cannot (should not) attempt to witness directly. Our eyes can be damaged by looking straight into the sun. So, sight is largely an experience of a second-degree, indirect nature. 

We believe in the moon, and can see moonlight, yet it is actually only reflected sunlight that we see. We believe in colors and see that objects appear to have colors, yet science teaches us that color exists as it does because sunlight bounces off objects and the wavelengths of reflected light determines the color we see. It’s so crazy to think that something as colossal as vision is to the human experience is of a second-degree, indirect nature. 

What would it be like to see light that is not reflected light from the sun, but light that is emitted by an object itself not in relation to the sun? Like a burning fire flame or glow of fireflies, but from ALL objects. So, when we look at color around us, perhaps we can view it like moonlight, as a kind of hint.. It is second-degree seeing. Does that mean that we can not sense anything deeper and more direct? 

A pair of glowing heart-warmers

To me, the work of art –its function– is to alter our state of mind and state of being so that we can experience companionship and kinship with what is behind color. It’s a quiet presence that our basic five senses lack the precision to experience directly (as of yet). To me, it’s like hearing a purr but never seeing the cat. We can feel the vibration tingle every cell all the way to our center.

Perhaps it’s this purring presence that I first sensed that day when I saw every color in the tree bark. 


「和訳」

色彩の裏

私が高校2年生の時、運よくアーティストの見習いプログラムに受け入れられました。夏休みの間、何人かの生徒と一緒にプロのアーティストの指導で大きな壁画を描くことになりました。壊れかけたコンクリートの壁の穴を飛び越えてくる、でかい魚と小川のイメージでした。私たちは、毎日、まず作業の第一ステップとして色んな筆や、ぼろきれなど、たくさんの絵の具をトラックに載せて、壁画の現場へ向かっていました。3階建ての足場の鉄棒からサルのようにぶら下がってよじ登ったり、降りたりして、ペンキの取り混ぜはもちろん、壁画との距離を作ることで筆力や、色彩の明度の確認もしていました。夏の暑い日々でしたが、壁画に面した道の上に大きな道路があったため、都合好く私たちはだいぶ日陰に入っていました。それでも色整合とペンキの取り混ぜのために、ペンキの水分がなくならないように水の入ったスプレー瓶がとても欠かせないものでした。

アートの指導者とこの実践学習の体験を通して、どうやってある色を取り混ぜられるか、そして物の色彩明度を(ライト・ミディアム・ダーク)再現できるようになりました。家にペンキを塗るのと同じ大きさの塗装用のブラシを使って、私たちは体全身ペンキだらけの毎日を楽しく過ごしていました。

その時、ティーンエイジャーだった私でも、そのアーティストの見習いプログラムに参加できて、ものすごくラッキーだとよく分かっていました。毎日、自然に囲まれたところで(壁画は小川沿いの道に面した)たくさんの絵の具で、ほかの熱心なアーティストたちと一緒に芸術を習っている特別な日々でした。

そのプログラムの二年目の夏、ある日に私には「新たな目」が生えてきました。それまで何時間も色彩を取り混ぜたおかげだったでしょうか、よく分かりません。ただ、その時に見た木の皮にすべての色が見えたという、くっきりした記憶があります。木の皮の色彩が私の心に強く訴えかけてきたことを覚えています。まるで大自然は人生を共にして、ものを伝えられる力を持つ「相手」となってきたようです。言い換えると、大自然は私にとって抽象的な存在から、もうちょっと人間性に似たような、いきいきとした特性を持つようになりました。私はこの思い出がよく覚えているのは、こうやって普通のものにあんなにたくさんの色が見えたことがそれまでになかったからです。

あれから20年以上が経っていますが、私はまだまだ絵を描きます。ただ、好みのペンキ性がアクリルから水彩へと変わって来ただけです。もっと若いときは、有名な画家の作品を再現したり、写真を参考にして絵を描いたりすることが多かったです。しかし、近年こうして写実的な絵を描くよりも、触発された瞬間に出来心で、印象に基づく絵をどうしても描きたくなっています。ものの外見をそのまま描いて、本物そっくりに見えても満足できなくなりました。

――色彩の裏にある、目に見えない「何か」を描いてみたくなりました。

色彩は言葉で私にものごとを伝えるわけじゃありません(少なくとも今のところ!)私は心が穏やかな時、大自然の美しさや、不思議や、畏怖の念などに打たれます。近年、万物にいきいきとした特性が宿っていることに気づくようになって、より大自然との親しみを感じています。これはたぶん、ティーンエイジャーの私が木の皮にすべての色が見えて、自分に「新たな目」が生えてきた経験に似ているのではないでしょうか。←こんなことを書いたら自分でも笑ってしまいます。先日、「野鳥観察が好きだ」と自分で初めて気づいて、世界に打ち明けるように声に出したときもくすくす笑いました。

たとえ大自然の神秘が何はともあれ、私が自然との絆をより強く感じるようになったのは確かです。そして、画家として、心にある想像力のとろ火を大きくするための木材いっぱいプレゼントされたかのようにも感じます。

少し話は飛びますが・・・

私は、母親が弟を生むのを見た経験を取り上げたいと思います。その日までいなかった人が一瞬生まれてくるのをじっと観察することによって、いつもの心境とは違いました。あなたも似たような経験はありませんか?私のと違う「形」かもしれないけど、目に見えない「何か」を感じたことを思い出せますか。私はまた犬や、猫などのペットと一緒にいることによって、この特別な心境が引き起こされます。森羅万象と根底で繋がっている気持ちをさせる日常的な経験は、誰でもあるはずだと私は思います。

個人的な例がもう一つ頭に浮かんできます。それは水の表面に浮くことです。人間は誰でも絶えず、毎日重力という力に縛られています。でも、水の表面に浮くと、体そして心が無重力のブランケットに包まれているように感じます。水の中にいるから、音があまりよく聞こえなくなることと共に意識を高めることがあります。水と互いに一致して、重力から解放されることができて、独特な気持ちになります。色彩の裏をはじめ、こういった様々な経験の裏には、ある「何か」の存在があるように私は感じます。だからこそ、私は言葉で表わしにくいこの「何か」を人に感じさせたくて、紙に向かって絵を描きます。

ある色が別の色のとなりに置かれると違った明度によって動きが感じ取れて、美しいです。人は絵を見るときは、一か所からスタートして、ぐるぐる見回して、そしてそのうちに目が焦点に止まるでしょう。目の動きと共に、個人的なことを連想したり、気持ちも影響されることがあります。これこそがアートの「働き」でしょう。ほんの一瞬の間、赤ちゃんが生まれてくるのを見ている気分にさせられるかもしれないし、ペットと一緒にいる時の心境に戻るかもしれないし、水の表面に浮いて重力から解放されたときの気持ちが思い出されるかもしれません。

私が言葉で表そうとしている心境は通じているかしら。人それぞれは個人的な経験を持って、人によって同じような心境でも、違う「形」で覚えているのではないでしょうか。だから、みんなは紙や、舞台や、パソコンや、教壇などに立ち向かうでしょう。

最後に、色彩について言いたいことがもう一つあります。私たちは、月が見えるのと同じく、光や、物の色などが見えるのは、太陽の光が輝いているからです。物自体には色がありません。すべての物は太陽の光を反射しているだけです。それによって、人間の目と脳の働きで、「色」が見えます。私はこんなことを深く考えたら、我々人間は実に太陽の子供のような存在で、太陽の性質や、きまりでしか人生を味わえないということに改めて気付きました。つまり、私たちが5種の感覚で感じ取れることが限られているに違いないです。ある意味では、太陽の光に目が眩んでいます。そして皮肉なことに、肉眼で太陽を直接見ることは安全じゃありません。人間の視覚というのは、第2度のような間接的な機能です。

昔の人たちは月の存在を知ったのは、月光が見えたからでしょう。でも、月の光がなかったら、(つまり、もし月が太陽の光を反射しなかったら)月の存在を知るにはどれくらいの時間がかかったでしょうか。

ちなみに、太陽に関係ない光が目に見えたら、それはどんな感じの光でしょう。燃え上がる炎に見えるでしょうか、またはホタルの光のように輝くのでしょう。もしすべての物には、太陽と関係ない光が輝いていたら、どんな感じの光で、人の心にどんな気持ちを起こさせるのでしょう。

私にとって、アートの主な働きは、人の心境や、気持ちに影響させることで、色彩の裏にある「何か」との馴染みと親しみをはぐくむことです。色彩の裏にあるその「何か」は、人の普通の5種の感覚で感じ取りにくい静かな存在です。私が想像するのは、まるでごろごろ喉を鳴らす見えない猫の存在のようです。体の細胞を一つ一つぞくぞくさせながら、心までこのごろごろの振動を深く感じられます。

もしかして10代の私があの時に木の皮に初めて見たすべての色の裏には、このごろごろ鳴らす静かな「存在」に初めて気づいたのではないでしょうか。







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The Real Stuff of Life

For the past year, writing a blog has been a way for me to share both my art and ideas, however, it is not real, complete communication. I use the words “real” and “complete” because I don’t know how else to describe the deeper, meaningful, and nurturing type of communication that is possible. Real, complete communication is an exchange.

This year I have contemplated often what is key in healthy human relationships. As my art style is surfacing and evolving more and more, so is my understanding of what I want and need human relationships in my life to be.

“Jasmine Tea,” an illustration to a poem I dedicated to my Grandma.

In my experience, we learn about ourselves largely through being faced repeatedly with how we are different from others. During this lifelong process, personal differences tend to make us feel separated from others and alone, but I am told that this is an illusion of the mind. In the case of any negative feelings we have, we project that negativity on the outside world and then deem the world as showing these negative aspects to us. The world is the subject and we are its object. In this way we set ourselves up as being less powerful than we truly are, and less capable of taking full responsibility for ourselves. “What you see is what you get,” was never the full picture. The inner thoughts and feelings you give most of your attention to, is what you see reflected back to you when you look outside of yourself. In other words, “As within, so without.” The only way to know if this is true, is to practice mindfulness, so that when you observe yourself feeding into any sort of negative mind chatter, you can use the tools you have to steer yourself towards a better thought.

On my path as an artist these past couple years, I often see inwardly that I have a choice in how I respond to what comes out of me and onto the paper.

(Left) Basic components of a Zebra Dove; (Right) Painting my experience of seeing a Zebra Dove

For example, rather than think about what other people will find cool looking or interesting, I can choose to focus on creating imagery that reflects who I am and my experience of our shared world.

Who I am, who we all are, shifts and changes, so this is a challenge, but also extremely rewarding.

Following “present-moment breadcrumbs” leads me to a different expression of the Zebra Dove

I do feel there is some kind of essence in each of us that doesn’t change. How big is that essence compared to the other aspects of ourselves, who can say? I also sense that depending on the person or people I am around, this essence is allowed to come through more easily, and often times a great synergy can arise among many people in such a harmonious environment. This brings me back to the theme of real, complete communication.


“Hito kara hito e,” from person to person. Calligraphy by my sensei, Hiromi Peterson

A few months ago, I joined a new community in Honolulu- a small community of Japanese calligraphy enthusiasts. They come from all walks of life, yet love of the arts and Japanese calligraphy in particular, is common ground for us. 

This line is a little too thin and weak, here. When you move from here to there, don’t move too slowly or it is too difficult to control the brush and get a good line.

These are some of the words of wisdom that we get to hear as our sensei, Hiromi Peterson, critiques our work. In this community, everyone is not as good as they want to be. Everyone has good days and bad days. Everyone responds well to encouragement, and everyone knows beauty when they see it arise in their own work or the work of others. ANY community we are a part of is an opportunity to see the underlying aspects that link us all together.

T-shirt design by Hiromi Peterson

Our sensei creates a new shirt with a special message each year, and the message she chose this year is this: hito kara hito e. “From person to person” is the literal translation. It is a very relevant message for the world today, and one I feel compelled to share here as well. 

In a world where we hear about one person creating a successful social media account that hundreds of thousands or even millions of people follow, we see new possibilities of reaching and influencing people on a large scale. It is now normal to know someone who is succeeding in this way. We see that it is possible for any of us to reach people all over the world. I applaud and root for many of them, but at the same time I see how this form of connecting with people is overshadowing real, person to person communication. As a result young people, especially, who have never known a world before internet and social media, don’t have the same experience or “data” that some of us have. Many of my own peers and elders don’t seem to understand what exactly has happened except that oddly, we feel less connected with people despite all the social platforms meant to help us become more connected.

My sensei, Hiromi Peterson’s, brushwork art for 2020, the year of the rat

It would seem to me that we have been given many new shiny tools, but have yet to learn how to use them effectively. Rather than integrating them into our lives, they’ve largely replaced more intimate, effective forms of communication. For me, effective communication would result in healthy mutually supportive and meaningful relationships with people. It is not the case that we need to scrap these new “tools,” rather, I think this next year is a perfect time to revert back to some of the old tried and true tools for real, more complete communication.

In other words, live by my sensei’s message of “hito kara hito e,” from person to person. Not from person to device. Real, effective and meaningful communication such as: face to face conversations, and when that isn’t possible, direct communication via phone or video conversations, and even hand written snail mail.


Some New Words

In order to adjust well to the expanding forms of communication, we could really use some new words that can distinguish differences among the various levels, and types of communication as well. The following are some useful words I’ve come across here and there.

“You have my full attention”

Deep Listening

Listening, from a deep, receptive, and caring place in oneself..It is listening that is generous, empathic, supportive, accurate, and trusting. www.mindful.org/deep-listening/

“I might as well be alone”

Phubbing

Ignoring a person or one’s surroundings when in a social situation by busying oneself with a phone or other mobile device. www.dictionary.com/browse/phubbing


“Non-generous listening”

Pseudo-listening

A type of non-listening that consists of appearing attentive in conversation while actually ignoring or only partially listening to the other speaker. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudolistening

Without realizing it, the structure of many social media platforms is built in a way that emphasizes posting our personal status or update and naturally removes a lot of the more satisfying qualities of real, complete communication. 

When we post things about ourselves, we are not in listening mode. We are the “speaker” which often emphasizes the need to hold other people’s attention. A very me-centric state of mind can be unintentionally groomed as we routinely wonder how to attract viewers, likes, and elicit reactions or comments. 

“They’ll have to notice me if I wear this.”
Me-centric state of mind

Generally speaking, most people misrepresent themselves on social media by sharing only positive, attractive images of themselves, when our lives and inward experiences are much more complicated. When people are hurting, they are less likely to be able to reach out to others to offer deep listening or loving attention. They may be hungry or starving on many different inner levels. We cannot know if a friend could use encouragement or supportive words just by skimming their photos and posts. Many people may not necessarily notice the general decline in exchanging meaningful words with each other as this misrepresentation and me-centric behavior has become more encouraged through the structure of most social media platforms. 


The Real Stuff of Life

I hope to practice better communication this coming new year. I want to keep the idea of real, mutual support between friends and family as something that is outside current social media culture. I don’t intend to scrap any of the platforms, but learn better how to put each one in its place so that they serve me much in the same way I choose what kind of brush to use when I paint. 

The new year is always a natural time to reflect and regroup to get a fresh start. For me, I want to revert back to practicing more single object attention. Full focus mode. Let’s dust off that timeless wisdom of “less is more.” Rely less on social media features that hinder harmonious communication, and achieve more. More what? In the case of giving our full attention to others during conversations and other meaningful interactions, we achieve more intimacy and bonding which, in my opinion, is the real stuff of life.



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White Shadows

A shadow is an indication of a presence in the physical world. When something visible casts a shadow, the shadow is also visible, though its appearance alters depending on the light source. Assuming that there are things that go unseen by us, wouldn’t they, too, cast a shadow? 

“Emerge”

In the spirit of spontaneity, there is a mix of chaos and genius. I feel like inside peoples’ minds this is also true of the whirlwind of thoughts that chug through. Where do all those thoughts come from anyway? The mind is always trying to make sense of all the stimuli its being fed. To make things more complicated, it’s not just stimuli in the present moment, but recreations of the past and all kinds of variations of futures-some minutes away, others decades away. Does the mind take the time to assess responsibility for the source of each incoming thought? 

Somewhat accurate recreation of  past occurrence 

Less accurate recreation of a past occurrence (less uncomfortable than above version)

Incoming bodily sensation (itchy nose)

A worry about how the near future might unfold (undesirable outcome)

Inspiration

Inspiration. I love it. I live for it. I try to be mindful of it so that when I notice it, I can let the energy color whatever my current experience is.

My “moveable” workspace. I set up wherever has the best lighting. I like corners =)

It is in this way that I haven’t changed that much from when I was a child. Do you remember that aspect of being a child? When something bugged you, you got over it relatively quickly and there you were again enthralled in some imaginary scene you played out with rocks and sticks. Someone would tell you that the rock wasn’t what you said it was, and instead of listening to them, you knew it was your responsibility to show them what you were seeing so that they could see it too (because it was so cool!).. unless of course their idea was even better, then you’d enthusiastically go with that.   

I have never thought of myself as a spontaneous or impulsive person. However, when it comes to painting (with watercolor especially), it is an entire meditation on acting in the moment on impulse! It pulls me out of my thinking head, all those thoughts are not important, it’s just noise, and the only way I know that for sure is because of how inspiration feels.

View from my corner spot

Physical existence loses some of its grip on me.. if I were to express this with art, I’d make the lines of our bodies dotted, or let more of the sky or nature in the background seep into and mingle with the wet paint of the person. We are less “solid” and “defined” when we are in a creative state. More of that which is usually perceived as being outside of us, enters us and mingles with our essence.

Spontaneous painting in one color

As I paint I get to a certain state where I am noticing “suggestions” that seem to appear in the moment. I follow impulse after impulse, each arising from the previous brush stroke or from some general sense of something missing. Each impulse is a breadcrumb that only appears in that very moment, so I have to focus my attention to be receptive in the moment. This particular variety of breadcrumb-present moment appearing breadcrumb- does not leave a trail where you can look ahead or look back.. it forces you to stay in the present moment.. where the white shadows are. 

A whisper of guidance is never far, always reminding me that I am not what I paint, but the heart and mind with which I paint.  It just so happens that my most recent inspirations have been painting focused on negative space and lifting paint out of the painting. Sometimes there is paint on my brush, and sometimes it’s just loaded with water. Sometimes in order to create the thing you envision, you leave it empty. What a strange approach. As I experiment, I discover more about the creative process and it becomes less about learning new techniques or trial and error as it is about observing the quality of the mind that holds the brush. 

Eventually, as a painting emerges from the blank canvas, something else also emerges. The realization of being in a deeper state of awareness. This mindful way of painting focused in the present, and attuning to impulses and spontaneous “suggestions” that arise, has become a kind of meditation that seems to suit me very well. 

More white shadows

It’s as if watercolor painting was a secret practice that the universe hid in this world for me to find. To rise above thoughts and merge with inspiration and stay present in the moment with an open receptive heart and mind is not an easy thing to practice, but somehow it feels like very little else matters in the grand scheme of things. We value the cleanliness of the body, but who talks about the regular cleansing of the heart and mind and how to go about doing that?

The depth of an individual’s uniqueness is immeasurable. In fact, I am pretty convinced that the universe has hidden secret practices for everyone. They are all tailor made to your exact specifications to such a degree that no one but you would know it until you’ve experienced it. You don’t believe me? Maybe, you just haven’t found one of yours yet. 

Or, maybe you have a better idea? Let’s hear it =)  


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The Art of Questioning

Is your mind in a state conducive to seeing anew? To seeing what it did not see maybe just moments ago?

We use the word “open-minded” to describe a person who is often able to entertain new ideas without so much emphasis on needing to be “right.” The jury can be out-judgement suspended indefinitely- even uncomfortable ideas that threaten aspects of ourselves can rest in the spaciousness of an open mind. 

What if more of us could find ways to enter this open-minded state more often? To have a loose and relaxed stillness about us that is receptive to the gentle fluttering of incoming ideas?

What I think is not who I am. These words and ideas I write do not belong to me. I have control and lack control. I know and do not know. 

This is the space that exists within each of us. We are capable of a surreal level of inner flexibility. 


Swallowed by the Whale

Early in the morning, I turned on a less favored laptop and the start screen reflected an inaccurate time considering it was early morning. Later, after writing for some time, I got up for a break and walked to the kitchen to see the oven clock reflecting the same inaccurate time I’d seen earlier. There is a lot of humor and entertainment for me in these sorts of occurrences. I like not trusting time. When we can genuinely find ourselves questioning a mechanism that as a collective we have learned to let guide our mental processes, it shakes the ground we walk on a little. It’s a way to elicit a more open-minded state of being that is highly conducive to experiencing creativity.

If I can’t trust time, then where the heck am I? Who and what am I? 

*Poof!* Your mind awakens a little and realizes that you had long before been swallowed by a whale and have been living inside of it. You stand up and though you are blind to what’s outside of the whale, you empty your mind and feel for answers. How is it that despite being there all along, you only just feel the ground beneath you shaking for the first time, now?? 

You were part of something bigger.

Self-imposed Earthquakes

When you question yourself, your experiences and beliefs, you are questioning past conditioning that has been integral in shaping your current perception of reality. You are in effect creating an earthquake in your being. 

“Earthquake 1/3”
(“Maybe I do not know what I’m talking about.”)

Living life with an open mind is like living life balancing on one leg. With two legs planted, time stands still and we feel safety and security in our firm rooted stance. However, we are not moving forward-we are not growing. When we achieve the state of an open mind, we are in effect lifting one of those planted legs as if to say, “Maybe I do not know what I’m talking about.” A lot of the attitude towards the process of growth boils down to this question: Do you see yourself wobbling as a sign of weakness and, therefore, something to be avoided? In other words, are you not able to see past your immediate feelings of discomfort in the moment? Or do you see your instability as the flexibility needed in order for you to take the next step to expand your world? 

What if we asked a question, and then loosened up on our expectations of an answer. Maybe the answer will come, and maybe it won’t. Maybe soon, maybe not. Maybe before the answer comes, we will cease to ask that particular question. This idea, alone, tells me that there is an art to asking questions. There can be beauty, acceptance, and a great wonder in the asking. Maybe even growth itself is mostly achieved in the asking, rather than in the answering. 

This being said, a mind active in constant questioning leaves little room for else. A lot of critical thinking skills we learn in compulsory education encourages positing questions and following through until we reach the answers. What if we built upon this ability by further training the mind to:

1) Be more mindful of the intensity and tone in which we ask ourselves questions

2) Stop asking questions when we decide to; and 

3) Not ask questions expecting (or feeling a sense of entitlement to) an answer more often. 

In other words, what if we practiced wondering?

“Wondering” is a less intense version of questioning. It is not as disruptive or distracting. It also doesn’t consume our full attention with the kind of urgency that often accompanies many questions we may have. “Wondering” feels like a peaceful, gentler way of approaching uncertainty. 

I don’t have the answers, and sometimes I’ll observe myself in the act of questioning not actually expecting to ever get answers to the questions. I ask particular questions to get myself to a slightly different space.. to shift the ground I walk on purposely. My mind is able to wander as I engage in wondering. 


The Birth of Surrealism

Surrealism was born when our minds awoke enough to perceive and give attention to imagery that we’d been conditioned to ignore. It wasn’t invented, it was merely perceived and validated by enough people for the first time. 

“Earthquake 2/3”
(“Seeing anew.”)

It makes me wonder about how the validation of something by the masses occurs. Before anything can be validated, it needs to gain mass awareness first. Surrealism has been described as a movement in the arts in the 1920s in which artists strove to unite their conscious and unconscious realms of experience.* I can imagine that it was embraced by many artists of the time since it was about getting in touch with the sleeping parts of ourselves which hold the key to much of our creative powers.

Intuitively, I can relate to this idea as I have a collection of my own unique experiences with creativity. When I am communing with creative forces, I feel a fluidity in my being-a kind of openness and receptivity. It is no longer a weird idea for me to admit that being an artist is like being an instrument. Whether I am writing or painting, a part of me has learned that it must step aside and kind of melt into the background. I might illustrate this as taking a mask off, or putting a new one on. Either way, the ground that I find a sense of security in, metaphorically speaking, shifts and I experience a wobbling in what I believe to be real. The experience of creativity happens in that surreal wonder-land that the mind awakens into.

Art and the Receptive State of Mind

The art of questioning (the act of asking questions in a certain non-demanding manner) can be a gateway to a more expansive and receptive state of mind. It is ostensibly the act of self reflection and self observation, but with significant creativity-enhancing undertones.

Are you chasing external things that you have put your trust in to give you that deep rooted happiness you sense is possible? Or are you chasing the state of mind you have experienced from time to time, that lets joy in? On that same note, are you the body that experiences sensory input in this world? Or are you the consciousness that perceives the sensory input? If you are the consciousness, then are you the consciousness that is here in waking life reading this? Or the consciousness that strips itself of the body and bathes in a dreamy surreal world each night? Is it possible to be both? ..Or even more than the sum of our realized parts?

Don’t think too hard, just wonder about it with me. Let’s stand on one foot together calmly, in no rush to plant the other foot down. 

“Earthquake 3/3”
Are you the body that experiences sensory input in this world? Or are you the expanding consciousness that perceives the sensory input? Is it possible to be both, and more? 

*https://www.britannica.com/art/Surrealism

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Inner Language of Symbols

Maybe we can meet somewhere in between
In a dubstep; a blue world
And float along together
Following a trail of pink

Going in and out
Of that world and this
One we call wakefulness
And one we dismiss

The Dream

Over a year ago, I had a lucid dream where I was in an in-between landscape. No matter how the scenery altered as I crossed it, there was a distinct darkness to the sky and the ambiance it created was truly unique. It was the kind of dark lighting I would associate with dusk and twilight. The little light that illuminates everything is not directly from the sun, but diffused light that somehow exists while the sun is still below the horizon-that kind of dim lighting.

Anyway, I was running both from something and to somewhere when I came upon a steep hill with chalky white and neutral colored giant mushrooms standing in a surreal stillness. Somehow I knew I could hide there right in plain sight and no one would see me, so I did. I altered my mind to reflect the surreal stillness of the mushroom and emptied it of everything else. That feeling I concentrated on became so powerful that the idea I was running both from something and to somewhere discontinued. Now, my awareness was united with these giant mushrooms and their unique powerful essence. 

The last thought I had before I woke up was that I had to memorize the feeling of hiding amongst these giant mushrooms so I could illustrate it. 

“Mushroom Children”

Fast-forward to earlier this month, I was attempting my first digital painting using some new software called Corel Painter. This time I chose another vivid dream to base my illustration off of.

The Dream (2)

We were floating down a darkly lit jungle stream in a small canoe, passing by numerous different sized flamingos. Some poked their heads out from the jungle brush while others stood perfectly still in the stream as we went by. It was very much a trail of pink, until the stream forked into two directions. At the fork, a couple of lone reeds stood there as if in place of a sign. We chose which side of the fork to continue down, and as the boat shifted its direction, I was struck by a sudden realization: these reeds are same as the ones in the book I had in my hands. I held it up and saw that the illustration matched the actual reeds to perfection. I was completely astonished. It was in that moment that I realized I was exactly where I was supposed to be.. WE were exactly where we were supposed to be. 

As I composed the piece loosely, I knew there’d be some dirt in the foreground, but I hadn’t decided how it would look-maybe there would just be some moss or some fern leaves. As I painted, I was surprised how the flamingos ended up staying in the distance-almost going unnoticed. Eventually, when the rest of the composition had evolved, I suddenly knew what would be in the dirt in the foreground: mushrooms. It wasn’t a logic-based decision, my internal symbolism language made the decision for me. After I finished the painting, I think I wondered to myself why I’d put mushrooms there, but I didn’t expect or need an answer. After all, this was a painting loosely based off a dream. Capturing the feeling was more important than the accurate portrayal of what I’d seen. 

“Flamingo Stream”

It has been through these two experiences that I’ve become more aware of what mushrooms seem to symbolize for me. Do you ever get in that mood where you find a song that just resonates perfectly with you at the time so you put it on repeat and listen to it over and over again? I will get like that visually. (It happened with an adorable photo of an alpaca recently). I will become mesmerized looking at something that really speaks to me. It appears that mushrooms seem to be a symbol of this mesmerizing state for me. 


A Unique Inner Language of Symbols

Finding a mushroom in Armstrong Woods, CA

Earlier I mentioned that I let my “internal symbolism language” decide what to paint. As I wrote that, I became inspired to transcribe some of my current understanding of a person’s unique inner language of symbols. The following is a brief description of how I understand it:

We all create a kind of personal almost hieroglyphic-like dictionary of symbols and add to it each day and night of our lives. An object becomes meaningful as we pay repeated attention to it. Then as we notice various nuances such as size, color, texture, and the mood of the environment or circumstances it appears in, we accumulate the pieces we need to translate it further into real personal meaningfulness. Its meaning can become so real that it feels almost tangible the more cumulative attention we give it.

Many of these symbols are unique to us because they were acquired through our own experiences. My memories and experiences with mushrooms have created an inner meaningfulness that may be quite different from yours. Maybe you have your own equivalent of the same feeling of what mushrooms mean, it’s just expressed as some other symbol for you. However, there are many symbols in our internal symbolism language that we share as a collective for some reason or another.


Exploring a Tangent

If you could ask every person you met what Atlantis is like, just imagine the wide scope of interpretations you would receive. The existence or non-existence of Atlantis becomes unimportant, and the symbolism of what Atlantis stands for becomes the uniting principle we can relate to. This is the aspect of language-whether spoken, signed or expressed through symbols-that allows us to feel closer to each other. 

We don’t have to agree on all the details of Atlantis, yet what it symbolizes-that feeling of hidden or lost magic-can exist today for all of us. As a collective, it is these sorts of mysteries that offer to us numerous interpretations and implications about our world. We can all speak different languages, have our own unique life experiences and personal inner symbolism language, yet we can still experience collective unity.

“Ryugu-jo” (Some art from my childhood).
Literally, “Dragon-palace-castle” a famous underwater castle in Japanese folklore. One day in the castle equates to a century outside its walls.

Honoring Our Uniqueness

I think we can experience more feelings of unity when we become more comfortable with and less apologetic about our own uniqueness. Not only our unique gifts or point of view, but our unique needs as well.

Why are you so shy? Why do you avoid social gatherings? Why can’t you hold better conversation? Why aren’t you more likeable? Why don’t you like what I like?

This world we live in is not a one-size-fits-all or even one-size-fits-most. The world does a pretty good job of tolerating a person’s unique needs AFTER they contribute their unique gifts, but not usually before. The world operates on a very linear mode that doesn’t nurture potential, rather it asks for proof before it is willing to invest its tolerance and support. Its eye is on the unique gift aspect of an individual, not the accompanying unique needs.

No matter how clear we can become on who we are, what our uniqueness is and what we need in order to honor it, the world will always be a step behind. This is because it is a physical reflection of previous generations’ past efforts- it has never had you or me in it before. WE have to teach the world who we are and what we need, not the other way around. The world is our teacher, but it is also our student. If we desire to integrate into the world rather than conform, WE have to stand our ground and rewire ourselves to believe it is possible.

Do you believe it’s possible?

Sending you mushrooms today and always, 

Mo-Chan


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