I'm not sure how or when this happened, but I just noticed that a lot more people are following my blog. Jeez, what's up with that? Something in the water maybe? Thanks everyone! And a heartfelt welcome to my blog. I write when I can, and sometimes when I can't. It's become part of my creative process–a way to sort out my thinking, as well as to explain my work to anyone who's interested. And I like to write, and I'm never short on opinions, and so forth, and so on.
Briefly, my creative work goes like this: I cut up sacred texts letter by letter, disemboweling the word of God, and then reconfigure them letter by letter to create another sacred text. An example is the piece above: I created the first chapter of the "Avadhuta Gita" by Dattatreya (also called "The Song of the Everfree") by cutting the letters from "The Joyful Path of Good Fortune", a Buddhist text by the enlightened master Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. In other words, I've sacrificed a sacred Buddhist text to create a sacred Hindu text. Hey, it was one or 'tother. But not to worry - sooner or later I'm bound to cut up a Koran or something else to create a passage from "The Joyful Path". Yo, it's all good. I'm an equal opportunity disemboweler, and I do it all with respect, just so you know. Not that anyone has accused me of the contrary, but I'm just sayin'.
So anyway, the Avadhuta Gita is a seminal piece of sacred writing that lays out the principles of Advaita Vedanta. No light piece of writing, this. The ancients actually called it Extreme Advaita, which sounds very contemporary and action-packed. (I'd have preferred Gnarly Advaita, but the translators didn't consult with me). The point is that Dattatreya really puts it out there: He states that we live in a fog and must shake off the illusion of duality in order to have the experience of Oneness. (Advaita means literally "not two").
I'm not keen on categorizations, especially when I'm the one being categorized, thus I avoid all religious affiliations. But if someone held a water gun to my nostril and forced me to label myself, I'd grudgingly call myself an Advaitan. That's about the closest I'll come to admitting any belief system. And, after all, Advaita Vedanta is more of an experience than a belief. The belief in a formless, indivisible, immutable Supreme Consciousness that pervades all of existence is totally whacked out. You'd have to be a full-on nutter to believe something so bizarre, without any reference point to back it up. It's the experience of this Consciousness, or state of being, that's the convincing part. And of course that experience is interpreted in many ways, and called names that we're all familiar with:
Allah...and so on. You get my point. We all got our labels. But Advaita is the closest tradition I've found to being label-free. It's all about knowledge through experience, leading to realization. Realization of what? Realization that you're It, baby. You are one of those things listed above. Doesn't matter which one you pick; you're It. Another way of putting it:
You are that which you seek.
Here–read this passage from the Avadhuta Gita if you don't believe me:
The quintessence of the whole Vedanta is the knowledge and the realization of the Atman. By nature I am that formless, all-pervading Atman.
See, what I love about Advaita is that you can retain your belief system, whatever it may be, and still be an Advaitan. There's Christian Advaita, which you can read about here if you're inclined. It's pretty fascinating. Here's another quote from the same chapter:
The Atman exists always, everywhere, and in everything. It is eternal and unchanging. Everything in this world is void, and again, it is filled with the Atman. Realize: I am that Atman.
The piece above, like all my work, is comprised of a single line of type, without spaces or punctuation. It starts and stops at the same point on the page, and creates a leaf-like structure, framed and supported by itself. The line is void of distinction, identical from start to finish, conceptually without beginning, middle, or end. To quote the Gita one more time:
Truly, all this is Brahman.
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For those in the NYC area, I'll be in a show this weekend in Chelsea. It's at ACA Gallery, 529 West 20th St, New York. The opening is from 2-5:00. Read about it here if you'd like, and please come! I'll be showing with some amazing artists, some dead and some still living.
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Above: The Song of the Everfree: The Avadhuta Gita from The Joyful Path of Good Fortune. 22" x 19", 2011.