Kuan Yin, Sacred Space, and Practical Matters
I will admit: The kids' spring break is not the only thing that has kept me away from posting here more frequently. Once again, I found myself lost for words. (A frustrating place for a writer / blogger to be!)
After looking over this post, it is safe to say I've found at least a few words again.
A powerful image that has woven itself strongly into my thoughts over the past several months is that of Kuan Yin (a.k.a. Avalokiteshvara or Tara) - a Bodhisattva (or Goddess) of Compassion.
Image from astrogems.com
(For those unfamiliar with her, a simple Google search will pull up hundreds of references in far more detail than I can go here. Such references refer to her as, "one who regards, looks on, or hears the sounds of the world", "one who hears the cries of the world", and "the energy of motherly compassion".)
She has shown up in quite random yet fortuitous times in equally as random places. Every time I see her image or hear her name evoked, I am taken to a place of ....
...well, this is where I stumble again in finding words.
It is a place of knowing. It is a place of understanding. It feels as if my entire being has come home, kicked off her shoes, and snuggled onto the couch while someone else serves her tea and puts on her favorite playlist of music.
Yeah, like that.
It is here that it starts to move completely beyond my logical understanding. (My dear friends who are less into the mystical might want to skip a few paragraphs here and just take my word that the experiences I've been having are just freakin' awesome.)
I feel as though Kuan Yin is the being to whom I am trying to awaken.
As though I AM Kuan Yin, and my practice is to fully re-member that.
Needless to say, I am far from it. (For those who might disagree - first, bless you. Second, remember you are reading this via computer. You didn't hear what I just yelled at my husband.) (I kid.) (Sort of.)
And yet....the more I come to understand her nature, the more I understand that beneath my fears and insecurities, this is my nature too.
And the more I understand that, the more I desire to be that nature -- and the stronger my practice becomes.
This painting began when I couldn't hold her image in my head any longer. She has evolved over the past week or so. It is not the painting, per se, that I love...it is what she pulls out of me when she reaches in and grabs my soul - it is what she shows to me, what she kindly screams as she shoves this painting in my face and says, "Look! See! Stop being ignorant."
Alongside the image of Kuan Yin arising in my life are woven awareness threads of space - specifically, Sacred Space. (Connie of Dirty Footprints Studio shared a beautiful photo and quote recently in regards to Sacred Space.)
Interestingly, this week's Wild Elephant Project practice is treating things with "loving hands" - which I have translated as honoring all things (inanimate objects included) as sacred. When the objects themselves become sacred, the space in which they exist also exudes that quality.
Beyond the objects, beyond the noise, beyond our ideas even of all of this - is space. Unknown. Empty and yet completely full (of space). Pregnant with possibility and yet perfect just as it is. When we acknowledge the sacredness of space, suddenly we aren't in such a hurry to fill it. We breathe in it, smile in it, exist in its serene perfection.
I spontaneously created this two nights ago with one paint color, 2 brushes, and some glitter. I was moved by the energies of an incoming storm - the thunder, the lightning - and let that inner power simply dance onto the canvas. What turned into a "stormy sea" photo still invokes the power I feel within during an impending storm. I had moved into SPACE to create this - turning off noises of shoulds, actual noises such as the radio, and removing obstacles to my creating. I listened and I flowed into creative expression.
Kuan Yin, Sacred Space, and "Real Life"
So what do these two images have to do with one another? And why do they matter in the practical world where I (and presumably you) have to worry about bills and health issues and politics and ... And.
First, my personal journey: I am awakening to who I am. In so doing, I benefit myself and all beings. I firmly believe this - that when we awaken beyond our preconceived notions, we benefit self and other.
In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Have you ever noticed how attractive someone is when they carry themselves with a peaceful knowing? They aren't egotistical or prideful. They are simply aware of who they are. We all want to be around people like that because they make us feel good about ourselves. (Which again makes sense when removing the "self and other" distinction - we recognize our true selves in them, like looking into a mirror.)
In the process of awakening to who I am, I remove that which I am not. (WARNING: DEEP THOUGHT DERAILMENT: This gets tricky because if something is - concrete object, emotion, thought - then it IS. It exists. Anything we can conceive exists - and, in theory, so does that of which we cannot conceive. Following this line of thought, there is nothing that I am not....because there is nothing that IS NOT.)
Coming back to something that doesn't make the head spin: I can pursue awakening to my being through removing obstacles to that being. Things like fear of not succeeding, attachment to the approval of others...and even the books I keep piled around me that I will never read but somehow make me feel knowledgeable...they are all obstacles. They impede my practice, and thus, my full real-i-zation of my true being.
So what does this mean for you? You have an opportunity to awaken as well. Recognizing and honoring space (i.e. sacred space) allows potential to blossom into reality.
You already are - you just need to realize it (real-ize it, to make it real).
I don't know what your path is. I do not claim to know who you are or what steps you will need to take in your life to remember and actualize that being. I know the steps I have taken (am taking) and I have confidence that these steps - as a general practice - could be very beneficial to awakening to yourself (and at the very least, would not be harmful).
I do not (and will not) offer a 10-step program nor 15 items in a bulleted list for you to follow. My job as an Awareness Artist is practicing my own mindful awakening and offering to you - though these words, my art, and my teaching - what has worked (and what hasn't worked) for me.
Through this, it is your responsibility to explore, experiment, and live. Find your "Kuan Yin". Follow those things - no matter how odd or inappropriate they may seem to the life you have planned - that enliven you. Continuously practice ridding yourself of those things that impede you.
Do not blockade yourself from fear or unwanted intrusions - I promise they will only return stronger. Instead, let them flow through. Feel that fear of having someone hate your art. Feel that anger at having someone laugh and call your dream life, "unrealistic". Feel that attachment to your income and perceived safety and any anxiety that arises from it being taken away. Feel that need to defend "self" and the terror that arises if that self is questioned.
Don't fight it...simply acknowledge it, cry a bit if you feel like it, and move through it (or let it move through you) to the space on the other side.
The Sacred Space where that fear and anger still exist but only as part of this beautiful being that you already are.
As I continue to awaken to and practice who I am, I will compassionately hold myself and you through our journey. It simply is who I am. In my practice as an Awareness Artist, it is not a choice - it is an acknowledgement.
My kids still whine over who gets the red sucker. Needing new brakes for the car still makes my stomach churn. The dog and hubby still snore and keep me up at night and I still am terrified of putting my art up for sale and having no one buy it. This is life. This is my reality.
But just as real as this is my inner Kuan Yin. It is the couch-snuggly-feeling I get when acknowledging the compassionate being I am trying to remember.
Just as real is space, the energy that comes from breath that moves in and out of this space, and the indescribable joy and peace that arises when living in awe of this space and all that exists within it.
So whatever your reality might be today, may it include some awareness of that self that goes beyond your understanding. May that self find some way into your daily routine.
Today, I think I'll let Kuan Yin drive the car.