Sydney

In the eyes of a dog, perhaps you can see eternity. You can see looking without searching. You can see love without needing. No push/pull, just attentive awareness, readiness. Even when Sydney is searching, he is already there. Even when he is begging, he is satisfied. When he wags his tail he is excited, when he barks he is on guard, when he licks he is approving. Behind it all is perpetual motion, the ceaseless flow of energy which doesn’t bother to be aware of itself. When we say “good boy!” or discipline him, we are the fools. We project our own egos onto a canvas which is ecstatically blank. Sydney flows along the lines of our energy. He cowers with our fear, he barks with our anticipation, he lies with our sleepiness. In our presence, he is presence. He is a blank stare that is full of love, because love does not belong to us. Love is the field.

Sydney is the field. When I take pictures of Sydney, it captures the movements of an enlightened one. The message is in the silence.

Sacred Geometry: The Past Meets the Future

Here’s a picture to remind us that we’re always connected to our inner Buddha, that even in moments of darkness and despair, the flowering is still happening.

This series is called past meets future because it’s a marriage of some old abstract paintings I made with sacred geometry, the language of the future. Hope you enjoy!

Some prints from this series are now available at society6. Thanks for looking!

Legends of the Sun Hermit: Origins

What follows is an origin myth. A myth is a story that is absolutely true, even if everything that happens in it is fictional. Myths invite us to participate in the mystery of life. In a myth, there is no author and no reader. There is only a reminder of the miraculous. 

A calm settled over the valley as the Sun began to sink. Pinks and reds and oranges danced across the sky and onto the hillside, ushering out vibrant green to make way for solemn blue. Brahma, our frazzled creator, could hardly follow the colors with his paintbrush. Far beneath his celestial dome, men and women scurried about with problems of their own.

Somewhere in-between, we find the Hermit.

“In these lonesome hills I have made my home,” says the Hermit. “Far from the wearying grind of mankind.”

The Hermit ventures from his cave at the crack between night and day. He uses this time to forage a measley meal. His nights are spent in quiet contemplation and his days are filled with indecipherable dreams.

“Once I lived in the world of men. I had a family, and my dreams, and my future.”

Who can say what drove the Hermit from his home? The call of solitude is ancient and mysterious.

“I would quit the world of form. This mirage holds no more charm for me.”

Though his body has grown emaciated and lean, and though his mind travels tirelessly along well-worn paths, his spirit remains ever bound to the grand illusion of life.

Nothing in the world goes unnoticed, but who is reading our Hermit’s strange tale? The birds and trees and other forest creatures are too busy with one another to notice one solitary man. The rocks are old and time passes differently for them. In their eyes, the vast arc of a human life has all the meaning of a fly’s erratic flight.

And yet, there is one who is captivated by the Hermit, as He is captivated by each of us. He is the Sun, who sets as the Hermit rises, and in this brief interlude lies the space for an exchange.

“Do you not grow weary of rising?” asks the Hermit. “Is it not a burden to lift yourself into the sky only to fall, time and time again, beyond the distant hills?”

The Sun answers every question with a smile. “It is not I who is rising and falling, my friend, it is you who are spinning. As for me, I drift without aim through immeasurable space.”

The concept seems strange to the Hermit, but he accepts it as true.

“Would that I could cease spinning,” he mutters.

The Hermit dwells on the injustices of life. A sparrow snatching up a mouse, an innocent man overcome by thieves…

“Why do you shine your light on these tragedies? Are you a willing participant of every crime? Or do you remain aloof and indifferent to the suffering of others?”

“I am not without compassion,” responds the Sun. “But who am I to interfere? I can hardly fathom the strands of future and past that weave to form these happenings. Between the Stars and Mother Earth, a plan is hatched—but as for me, I must watch and wonder.”

“Surely you can tell good from evil!” cries our indignant Hermit.

“What I see I cannot say. I provide a stage but not the commentary.”

‘This must be some hypocrisy,’ thinks the Hermit, ‘and yet, he seems sincere.’

The words of the Sun trouble the Hermit. He begins to doubt the path he has taken. He wonders if he isn’t missing something.

For the countless creatures, life goes on. The Sun bathes them all in light and warmth, asking nothing in return. He watches over them as a loving parent. And though He does not play favorites, from time to time it so happens that a special relationship is formed. Mother Earth gives her blessing, and for those with keen and subtle eyes, twilight lasts just a bit longer than usual.

“Life is suffering,” declares the Hermit. “The Great Sage has uttered this truth. The life of animals is driven by hunger and fear. The ‘greater glory’ of man is to suffer loneliness, despair, doubt and madness as well. You sit at the center of creation in your stupid bliss! Why not close Your shining eye and put an end to it all?”

“It is the bird’s joy to fly, and man’s joy to live and love. It is my joy to shine. The truths of the sages are varied—for every ray of light there is a new way to perceive the world. And what are the words of the Great Sage but the light of another Sun?”

In pensive silence, the Hermit returns to his cave. His meditation is unclear; his concentration is broken. Frustrated and confused, he chooses to sleep.

That night, the Hermit dreams of a dazzling light. A little girl whispers, “it’s coming right inside of you!”

For the first time in years, the Hermit emerges from his cave at daybreak. The sight of the World being born again stirs something long since dormant. Shades of joy and sorrow threaten the calibrated detachment of his mind. Everywhere he looks he sees the Sun. His friend invites him outward to taste the inexhaustible richness of life.

He wanders through the hills in a kind of stupor. The singing of the birds reverberates in the caverns of his mind. His intensified gaze pierces the veil of reality. As he studies a flower, the past and future bleed into the present. He sees birth, maturation and death, each contained within the other. All of life flows on like a river, but as he floats higher and higher a new image emerges. He traces all rivers back to a single source existing as a perpetual blossoming. At the heart of this divine lotus he meets an old friend—the Sun.

Suddenly, he understands the language of the birds, and the waves, and the flowers. It is a song which says only, “I am.” For a while, this is all he hears. The entire Universe singing in perfect harmony.

Slowly, words and distinctions re-appear, like clouds passing in front of the Sun. And yet, a light remains.

The Sun Hermit has been born.

Sacred Geometry: New Beginnings

This image transmits the feeling I get from sacred geometry. It feels like revelation in the most innocent and pure way. The beauty of sacred geometry is that it doesn’t have much to say. The same way a flower doesn’t have much to say. It opens for the bee, who instinctively draws out the nectar. It speaks in a language that is clear and pristine.

I feel that sacred geometry is the true higher learning. Really, it’s a sort of unlearning. Our modern world view is that life is a precarious balance which we must strive to maintain. Sacred geometry teaches that the essence of life is balance and harmony. Sacred geometry shows us the energetic blueprint which guides all of life in perfect fractal patterns. Contemplating these forms begins to dissolve the gap between the personal and the impersonal. Between emptiness and form.

A Long, Strange Trip

What can I say but: ‘my, it’s been a long strange trip.’

Life isn’t exactly like a fairy-tale. There is no bad guy to kill and get your happily ever after. There are just people confused about what they want and how to get it. We’re wrapped up in our own private dreams and it’s hard to see the big picture.

We begin to wake from the dream. The first question is, naturally, ‘what is this?’ Maybe we start to dissect and disintegrate, cutting pieces into pieces until we get to something so small that we can say, with great confidence, ‘this is it!’ But don’t you know, this little itty bitty something behaves just so strangely that our confusion only becomes more pronounced.

Or in the opposite direction, bigger and bigger and bigger until we can see the whole Universe out the window. What seemed like such a perfect and orderly clockwork turns out to twist and bend in ways we can’t comprehend and don’t you know there might just be more in the darkness than in the light. It’s the nonsensical painting of a madman where every point is the center and the whole thing is expanding like a four-dimensional balloon.

Perhaps there is no logic to the dream.

There is a logic, but it’s a dream logic. You have to be a little crazy to understand it. Some call it magical thinking. Maybe the whole Universe really does live in a mustard seed. Maybe your dog knows more about God than you do, because your dog doesn’t know anything. Maybe it really is the Apocalypse.

But let’s say the Apocalypse isn’t a New Year’s party or doom and gloom. What is it then?

It’s a long trip, you get the sense that you’ve been here before. There is a wall here, and we have to keep hitting into it. Again and again and again, until it breaks. There is no alternative. This is how we court grace. Again and again and again, until it breaks.

It’s a strange trip, which is to say, not normal. Normal is the narrow domain in which we find reprieve from our fears. But the trip always takes us far from normal. The trip takes us through hell, across purgatory, and then… beyond words. Beware of normal! Grace comes like fire to force us out of normal. Beware of normal, for it cannot last. Normal is a disaster waiting to happen.

So how has my trip been? It has been grace. I’ve been led, and I’ve set my own path. I’ve been burned, and I’ve been extinguished. I’ve sat like a stone and I’ve floated in the air. I’ve gone up and I’ve gone down and I’ve seen: ‘yes, this is it.’

Have I found what I’m looking for? Of course not. It’s not possible. It doesn’t exist.

What is my life but a seashell to offer back to the ocean? What is my writing but a long, strange lullaby?

I feel as though I am nearing the top of the mountain. Even now, I can see the view all around me. I can see how I struggled to get to where I am now– how silly! And I can see the rest of my life unfold before me like a long, red carpet. Challenges and trials, mundane repetitions and sparkling little moments of epiphany. The decline into old age, a graceful descent into the valley of Death. Home to Sister Death.

May this life be a celebration of existence in all its pain, pleasure and dullness. May it be a sustained prayer to all the idols of man and beyond them all. May the path I tread inspire others to dive into the unknown.

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace.