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Posts Tagged ‘Eckhart Tolle’

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is slither.

I can remember becoming suddenly and acutely aware of the liability of being born female at the all-too-young age of nineteen. Newly entered into the arena of relationship, I felt every slur and stereotype as a personal attack. If you are a female, dear reader, you will remember well the mean descriptions that have been hurled at you in particular, and at the female of the species in general. And if you are one of my dear male readers, I am sure that you will also remember, with embarrassment, words hurled in anger or frustration.

Fortunately, as I have grown much older and my world much larger, I realize that these sorts of aspersions refer to aspects that are simply the negative potential of any human being, regardless of gender. And that aspersions do fly both ways. As you can imagine, this came as a great relief to me, living this life in a female body.

The negative aspects of a person, generally referred to as the shadow in Jungian psychology, and more recently as the pain body by Eckhart Tolle, are our worst behaviors, knee-jerk reactions, defenses and survival tactics… all born out of the ultimate shadow quality: Fear. My heart and gut tell me when I have behaved badly, and my awareness tells me when someone else is acting out of fear. Unfortunately, both of these ‘radars’ are not always operating in present time. Often it takes much self-reflection (and calming down) to see that Fear has been operating once again in my life or another’s. If I wanted to be dramatic here, I could proclaim that it is an abysmal state of humanity… played out on a grand scale in arena of politics and world affairs.

However, doing my best to be an optimist… and a problem-solver, fixer-type by nature… I sigh, and look for solutions and reasons for this behavior. What I come up with, time and time again is this: humans behave badly so that we can become aware of the difference between that and a behavior that stems from living without fear. And so that we can eventually realize that we have a choice. Yes, grasshopper, Life is a school… and we are all students for the duration. Patience and compassion are not a prerequisite, but will surely be learned along the way.

“Medusa’s Grief” (oil on board)


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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is ahead.

In my world, ahead is another word for the future. No… not the Back to the Future kind, but the kind that exists inside my very own head. Admittedly, it’s a place I spend a lot of time in… Trying to simultaneously exist in this studio moment and the future, I observe myself wondering… “Will the painting I’m making work out? Will anyone love it? Will I alienate everyone, and be pronounced a hack? Should I get a regular job and end the misery? What’s for dinner… ?”

Of course, any bystander could tell me that this train of thought(s) is all a huge drain on my batteries, and especially on my creative batteries. But it seems to be a mental loop that runs pretty much on automatic. Most embarrassing to admit. I have gotten to the point where I can frequently ignore those monkey-mind voices and work anyway, but the fact that they are still there in the background is not something that I am proud of. I wish they would go away and leave me in peace… I take only a small bit of comfort in knowing that this mental state is largely ‘par’ for the human condition.

Conventional wisdom says that Time is linear—comprised of Past, Present and Future. But many spiritual teachers and mystics state that there is only NOW. In the past or in the future, everything was, or will still be, NOW. Yes, it’s a lot to wrap a little lump of cerebral cortex around…

Unfortunately, my mind is not usually content to hang out solely in the this NOW… everywhere else but here always looks so much more inviting, less problematic… and probably was, or will be, so much better than it is now. The contemporary spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, has written and taught extensively about this dilemma. Although he is not speaking specifically to the artist crowd, he is very clear that the full experience of being alive, not to mention any guidance that may be available, can only be experienced in this NOW. (I know from personal experience that this available guidance can even include practical information like what color to paint next, or even what to draw in the first place…)

I’m still trudging away on this journey back to the NOW… I’ll meet you there?

“Bird Thoughts (watercolor, pen and ink, colored pencil)

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