My mother met my father, a gentle and deep-thinking
part-Native American Texan, at a Tibetan Buddhist centre
in Scotland, and I grew up infused with a love for
exploring diverse spiritual teachings.
I have always searched for an understanding beyond
the norm, which to begin with literally took me to faraway
places: before I was twenty-three I had been lost for three
days in a jungle in Malaysia with cerebral malaria, and
shipwrecked on an island in the Indian Ocean.
Now, I live in a little farmhouse next to a waterfall
amongst the swift clear streams and verdant
rolling hills of southern scotland.
I’m creating the book and card deck
Becoming Visionary: re-creating an enchanted earth
with the transformative power of Zhouyi, because over the
past twenty-five years that I’ve been learning from the wisdom
of the Zhouyi, or I Ching, I’ve personally experienced how
skillfully and profoundly I’ve been enabled to begin
aligning myself with the harmonious
flow of the universe.
Fourteen years ago,
I decided to begin illustrating
this bible of a book in the faith that
I could help transmit its beneficent power
to others, not marketing my artwork during this time.
Previously, I'd worked ~ under my birth-name, Ita Plattner ~
as a freelance illustrator, with commissions ranging
from images for Mozart CD covers to depictions
of cosmic phenomena for New Scientist.
Now I use the name Shen, from my
dharma name, Shenpen Chökyi,
meaning blissfully for the
benefit of others :)
Messiaen Turangalila Symhonie: a cover I did for Decca Classics in 1993
My greatest inspiration has come from simply being in
nature, and it is the source of the Zhouyi, so deeply
rooted in a profound union with the natural world,
with which Becoming Visionary reconnects.
I aim to expand awareness and appreciation
of our universe by illuminating its beauty and
harmony, of which we are an inseparable part.
Feeling this union, we can re-connect with
that wholeness which is at once
our source and our goal.
While going through the process
of creating Becoming Visionary ~ using skills
learned on a B.A. in film, photography and animation ~
I’ve been walking the paths I suggest readers explore.
However good an idea seemed for connecting with
the teachings of the Book of Changes and
integrating them into one’s life, if I didn’t
personally find the experience
I left it out.
My intention is to be an illustrator in the true sense of the word
(lustro: light up), and for my work to act as a catalyst
for healing ~ becoming whole ~ and fulfillment.
My images are photo-graphic in the
original sense of the word as ‘drawing with light’.
Produced without a camera, translucent substances
such as plants and minerals are used as my ‘negative’
instead of film. The image, then, is a simple result of enabling
light to pass through bodies so they can be seen with clarity.
My vision is based on wind over lake, or Inner Truth,
one of the sixty-four gua of the I Ching:
The two lowest lines depict Earth,
the two uppermost lines represent Heaven
and the two central lines stand for humanity,
resting between the two with an open heart.
I see this simple, yet profound, depiction
of our place in the world as key.
Continually opening our hearts allows
us to harmonize and clarify the channel
between Heaven and Earth which we
embody, ultimately realizing ourselves,
heaven and earth as inseparable.
As Rumi so beautifully put it,
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
Being primarily an artist, my approach is a visionary
and experiential one. My intent is to inspire others also
to reawaken their inherent authentic vision, that we can
truly begin to create Heaven on Earth as a creative, joyful
and harmonious interweaving of many 'paths with heart’.
© shenpen chökyi 2013