“Too many of us . . . are not willing to expend the energy necessary to make this world a decent place in which to live.” —Sadie Alexander
Richard, my Tantric art partner, and I are struggling to make our current visual meditation exactly right. Almost every sacred artwork we’ve made to date has flowed with such ease, we’ve recognized them as divine blessings from our Śri Guru.
We were paired together for good cause: To help ease suffering in this world by ushering viewers to a deeper understanding of themselves, but this current work is taking more time, more meditation, more inner and outer examination, and more effort. Richard gets frustrated with certain aspects, and I with others. But we each return and begin again after working through our individual mental clutter—the kind that surely impedes the fluidity of this newest creation.
The biggest hurdle to this image-in-the-making is finding the proper feet of our Devī (goddess, feminine aspect of the Divine). The initial inspiration was selected for colors and position only and lacked thorough specificity. We had rushed through the most important part of this installation. We mindlessly, irreverently forgot to name Her. Because of this, She would not let this piece come forth quickly. It was as if she was saying, “You must notice me! Know my purpose, my powers, and not just the parts that serve you in this moment. You must name me, know my wishes and callings, and revere my entirety. I AM healing the world.” (Once you see the forthcoming artwork you’ll understand more!)
The outcome of our haste in this visual graphic piece is a sort of a degraded, hazy lotus āsanā (physical pose of yoga) with poorly pixelized feet. Attempting to cohere the art, Richard followed my next set of meditative directions to bring every other image in the picture to the same blurry, grainy quality. What a mistake! A mistake born from my misguided belief that this offering would come into form as quickly as the others and fueled by an arrogance that all our creative work should be easy.
Once I witnessed how my mind was responsible for clouding the outcome, I slowed way down. I paused. I stepped away. Slowing down, and even stopping, is often all that is needed to gain alternate perspectives that allow us to problem solve. Closing our eyes and repeating a mantra, whether formally given by a teacher or a self-assigned one, such as “soften” or “love,” brings our inner state back into harmony with what we are working on. Taking several long, deep breathes invites fresh air to revitalize and expand the stale, contracted thoughts that might obscure our creative contributions—our efforts to do what is righteous—whatever and wherever that may be, from the art studio to the office, to the home front.
It’s not wise to degrade any aspect of our work to rush integration. We must seek to accept, polish, and refine our degraded thoughts until they reach their highest and best form—and even then, we’ll discover more we can do to make them into worthy offerings to whatever it is we worship and love; what we want to see and intend to make more of in this world.
Integration is the highest outcome of any piece of art, and any spiritual practice. It is the moment the blessed fruits of our work begin living through us versus us intellectualizing them as separate or possessing them as ours and not part of a collective body. Self-integration is achieved when we feel what we say sets new realities in motion and that the thoughts that proceed our words are as powerful as any action or inaction that follows. The thought, the preparation, the words, and eventually the work are the same thing. This is why it is fallacious to believe there can be any separation between how we are feeling and what we are experiencing.
If we want virtuous outcomes, self-integration is necessary. The fragments of ourselves, our communities, and our world are intrinsically linked, which is why whatever we do internally has a direct impact on our external world. If we choose not to tend to our own process of integration, we can expect the world to remain broken too.
Richard and I have since named our Devī, she is Green Tara. The enlightened female Buddha of compassion and wisdom. Her right hand is open, signifying a generous outpouring of boons and her right foot is extended as if ready to spring into action on behalf of all beings in need.
The artwork is much clearer now since we’ve fully opened our hearts and minds to Tara and her auspicious qualities. The meditative mandala for healing is becoming lucid and alive, connected and cohesive, active and stable. It has come into balance because we have. We achieved this equipoise by recollecting ourselves quietly and individually prior to coming back together to rename our purpose. We chose to expend any effort necessary to accomplish our goal: A sacred piece of Tantric art offered as an integrative healing tool to its viewers.
When we focus on this level of integration individually, the restoration of the collective becomes the natural byproduct. However, no one can do this for us.
We must choose it for ourselves.
We must make up our mind and be resolute.
Once we do, anything is possible.
Our focused energy can and will make this world a better place in which to live for all of us.
Image Credit: Max Ravier