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Love the animals, love the plants, love everything.
If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.
Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better everyday.
And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.

~ Dostoyevsky

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My aim as an artist is a re-consecration of art
for the purpose of the re-enchantment of the world.
For, as Phil Ochs said, in such ugly times,
the only true protest is beauty.

The purest, most sacred essence could be experienced simply as formless…
but a dream in which I was shown a row of offering bowls, each with a tiny written explanation
by it, showed me how abstract is this intangibility: undiluted spaciousness is so ungraspable
that its rarified nature remains unattainable to those of us mortals who aren’t yet
operating on such an ultimate level. A bridge is needed…and that bridge
needs to be clothed in matter if it’s to be useful.

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As Nigel Richmond said, in his 1970’s book on the I Ching, Language of the Lines:
(free to download here from Joel Biroco’s insightful site, by the way):

Each realisation takes a liberty with the reality of the one but is also a link with it.

I see the world’s wisdom traditions as providing such a link, and my ongoing work is to illuminate
aspects of some of them. This exploration is shared on the Lightworks part of returntotheway.
It’s said that part of the delight of being embodied in this worldly realm is the sensual joy of what is
earthily tangible; that angels, in their more ephemeral reality, miss that ability to physically feel.

We’re only now beginning to move out of a long, long phase in which what is embodied has been
seen as, by definition, non-spiritual, making it ‘natural’ for people to treat it as such;
it’s telling that dirt is American-English for the body of the earth.

This unholy myth is what I seek to redress when I create art,
for however tame, lame, mundane and civilised our life may appear,
within us our unkempt pilgrim soul is replete with the same shimmering birthright
of creative, abundant freedom our most extraordinary ancestors embodied.

Similarly, however irredeemably urbanised, de-sacred and wounded our holy earth seems to be,
her pure indigenous essence is hungry for heart songs, dances which shake the dust from her body,
offerings of ochre, plant, stone and love which re-member her wholeness and beauty.

It’s quite simple. What we ~ this and previous generations ~ have defiled,
it’s our sacred work to re-sanctify, to make whole and holy once more.There is no-one
else to do it for us; we must joyfully rise to the challenge with courage, grace and devotion.

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As Hopi Elder Thomas Banyacya told us,
we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
It’s our quest in life to find out just how we’re to do this.

I’m called to re-member the world’s harmony through art, choosing
diverse forms of creative expression as a bridge to spirit, to the sacred.

With the animistic view which attributes a living soul to all things,
the art itself then becomes infused with this essence and can become
a gateway, a bridge, to this re-memberance, for another person.

For it could be argued that the art which never
leaves its creator’s side has not fully lived.

As Kahlil Gibran describes children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

As the children of artists, artworks have their own destiny to live out.
I put them out here in the faith that they’ll find their way to the person
to whom they’re called, to open new realities for them.

They could be described as having a talismanic
quality; embodying a particular, beneficial essence.

To use the illustration of a ‘touchstone’; just as a simple pebble in one’s pocket can,
when touched, take one out of dis-connected mental loops and be a small but potent re-minder
of what is eternal, uncomplicated and natural, an artwork can bring you back ‘home’ ~ over and over.

Another potent analogy for me is the Native American tradition of the Faithkeeper.

A person who assumes this rôle within the tribe remains centred, at peace within
themselves no matter what dramas unfold and misfortunes strike around them.

In this way, they become a living thread connecting
the sacred heart of life with its often chaotic outer rim.

We’re all called on to be faith keepers ~ to not get thrown off balance by the potentially shocking
or disheartening way life can unfold ~ and an artwork can itself be such a keeper of the faith.

A deepening faith in the great unfolding of your own small but precious life…and in life itself.

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© shenpen chökyi 2013