Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Universal Language

“I am always interested in the findings that make us one in the eyes of God.”
- CEPHAS AGBEMENU
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In our initial actions as human beings, we announced our arrival in the cosmos all at once by creating virtual replicas of our experience that we could hold in our hands and witness upon the walls of caves. This uncanny ability to virtually recreate the worlds of our experience – physical, emotional, mental, philosophical, spiritual – is what is most mysterious and enchanting about being human. The human condition – the entire history of humanity – is our collective heritage and the world of art is its universal expression.

It is as if the aesthetic urge is our very reason for being. We are, after all, the cosmos itself, looking back on itself, from within. The aesthetic illusions we create are replications of the essential shock of separation and expressions of our deepest urge toward re-unification with the entire universe.

 

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Occasionally, in my creative life, I experience a shock of recognition upon encountering a fellow artist with whose life and work I sense a particular resonance. When this occurs, the aesthetic connections between us run far deeper than mere appearances.

This year, I am pleased to be involved in ongoing projects with Cephas Yao Agbemenu, an artist from Kenya, Africa and a Fulbright Scholar. Several of these projects are coming to fruition next week, when Cephas will be in residence at Reading Area Community College.

Since the day we met, Cephas and I have been engaged in discussions regarding the spiritual dimension of art. I proposed this investigation during our initial meeting and it has flowered into a wide-ranging discourse on the universal aspects of human experience and how they are expressed in the lives of artists and the cultural manifestations of mankind.

It is always revivifying to be in the presence of an interdisciplinary artist and scholar. Cephas’ work and words are constant reminders of the singular heritage of the human family, our African origins in the mists of pre-history, the parallels underlying the symbolism of word and image in all cultures, and the myriad correspondences within aesthetic experience.

 

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The unity of life and the universality of consciousness have always been the basis of spiritualism, myth, magic, and ritual. And now, with the most recent breakthroughs in scientific research, we find ourselves on the threshold of discovering the elementary components of fractal, quantum, and holographic patterning which lie at the basis of biological life and consciousness.

What is most remarkable, perhaps, is that the history of art – from the staccato beats of aboriginal dream-time pictures to the fractal algorithms animating contemporary CGI – continually reminds us of these correspondences as if they are the secret code underlying all awareness.

The relationships are everywhere apparent for those with eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to feel, and minds to comprehend. Beneath the veil of appearance lies the unity of our deepest experience. There is a pattern to our lives that animates, coordinates, and finds expression in the common rhythms of world culture. Our art resonates in unison with the entire cosmos and so do we.
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Cephas Agbemenu will present a free lecture in the Miller Center of Reading Area Community College, on Wednesday, March 3, at 7:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Professor Agbemenu’s residency is the result of a joint request for a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence for the spring 2010 semester by RACC and Montgomery County Community College.
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First image: Cephas Agbemenu.
Second image: “The Ancestor” by Cephas Agbemenu, Kisii soapstone, 1995, collection of the artist.

 

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We Are One

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“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” – Mother Teresa
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Everything around us connects us to one another. There is no empty space between us. The air that fills my lungs for this few moments will soon fill yours. When we are near enough to each other I can feel your warmth. We radiate in infrared. I catch your scent – molecules of you entering me.

Waves of light and sound bounce between us in electromagnetic embrace. Everything I know of you I know because some part of you has entered me. And all you know of me is within you.

Our brains are attuned to each other’s frequencies by sets of mirror neurons replicating not simply our external images but experiencing each other’s inner life. I affect your feelings and you are affecting mine.

There is a connection between our suffering and the suffering of others – our happiness and the happiness of others. We are separated by the merest veil of illusion – in the shallows of our solitude. The river of our connectedness runs deep.

 

 

Take a few moments. Relax within yourself. Sense the slow movement of your breath. Feel your heart beat. Allow yourself to simply experience being alive in a very simple way. Accept yourself as a perfect expression of the world and universe of which you are a part. Forgive yourself for things you may have done in the past. They are long gone. Love yourself with all the love in your heart.

Think of someone else as someone just like you – someone connected to you in some way. Allow yourself to feel for that person in the same way you feel about yourself.

Let these feelings move outward from yourself until you can feel a sense of compassion for all humanity. The pathways of emotion are no different than the fabric of space and time, the waves of light and sound, the molecules and atoms of material which surround us and connect us.

When we forget the depth of our connectedness and go aground in the shallows of the spirit, a simple reminder is sometimes all it takes to bring us back to each other and to our common humanity. This is something we can do, very easily, for each other. We can remind each other of what is real.
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YouTube Video: Mirror Neurons

 

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Our Happiness and the Happiness of Others

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We have arrived at the crucial epoch in the evolution of the universe and the creative evolution of our species in which consciousness matters more than material. The great scientific breakthroughs of our time from physics to neuroscience have positioned consciousness – the action of the mind – at the center of both epistemology and ontology.
Neuroimaging technology reveals the complex patterning of mirror neurons as the mind exhibits the subtlest forms of empathic behavior and thought, while quantum physics posits the act of observation as the creative moment in which non-local probability waves of potential collapse into actual particles, energies, and discrete moments of space and time.

Surviving in a quantum-relativistic universe is more about organizing information than material. And organizing information is directly related to human consciousness.

As the world becomes more interdependent the requirement for empathetic interaction increases. To truly understand what it means to be human we must comprehend the deep relationships we share with each other in ways that transcend politics, economics, and materialism.

The most fit will continue to survive. But what it means to be most fit is changing before our eyes. Our survival as individuals and as a collective entity will depend more on developing increased abilities to experience compassion than it will depend upon increasing our tendencies toward competition.

The great discoveries of our time confirm the ancient truth that there is a direct connection between our own happiness and the happiness of others. We are coming to understand that we must learn to love ourselves more than we have been entrained to do. As we are able to feel more compassionately toward ourselves we are able to feel compassion for others in ways that make the world a better place for us all to live, work, play, and find our way together.

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Image: “Compassion” digital painting by Tullio DeSantis, 2010.

 

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