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#2316 - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz

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  • Jerry Katz
    #2316 - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz Highlights Home Page and Archive: http://nonduality.com/hlhome.htm Letter to the Editors: Click Reply
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      #2316 - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz
       
      Highlights Home Page and Archive: http://nonduality.com/hlhome.htm 

      Letter to the Editors: Click 'Reply' on your email program, compose your message, and 'Send'. All the editors will see your letter.
       
       

       
       
      In this issue are two longish articles from different cultural backgrounds and the common theme of boxes. The following quotations from the two articles might entice you to read further.
       
      "We opened the box together. Inside was a seashell, a faded picture of me from a Florida newspaper,
      a tile, a marble, and a lock of Eitan’s baby hair. I was a little bit baffled. 'What is all this?' I asked Eitan."
       
      "The journey began about 10 years ago when Hirata read a Japanese translation of the Tlingit story about how Raven gave humanity the moon by stealing it from an old man who had trapped it inside 10 nesting boxes."
       
       

       
       
       
      Invitation to a spiritual journey
       
      by Rabbi Mordechai Gafni
       
      The words ‘Lech Lecha - get up and go’ invite us to great biblical journey
       
      "And God said to Abraham: Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your
      father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you into a great nation, and I
      will bless you and make your name great, and you will be a blessing. And I will bless those that
      bless you, and I will curse those that curse you, and through you shall all the families of the
      earth be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3).”
       
      The simple yet wondrous meaning of these words is a call for a grand journey to the Promised Land –
      the Land of Israel. This is a critical calling, one that we must not ignore, even in our own time,
      when so many varieties of post-Zionism seem to be in vogue.
       
      However, if we have learned anything from the both gorgeous and painful process of realizing the
      Zionist dream, it is that the literal fulfillment of the Lech Lecha imperative is woefully
      insufficient in slaking the thirst of the nation’s inner longing.
       
      There is a great and growing yearning for deeper meaning; for the inner music of the divine clarion
      call to Lech Lecha.
       
      The Zohar sensed that there is an additional, more profound level of understanding of the words
      formed by these four Hebrew letters. The Zohar reads the call quite literally. Lech means ‘go,’ and
      Lecha means ‘yourself’; so the Zohar's dramatic reading of the great call of Lech Lecha is ‘Go! To
      your self!’
       
      This is not only a historical-national imperative, as important and sacred as that may be, but also
      a revolutionary call to your-self.
       
      But what is the self to which you are invited to ‘go’?
       
      It is to this question, the ultimate question of who is my-self that we now turn our attention.
       
      To begin, a story:
       
      I woke up the morning of my departure for a lecture tour of the United States—and almost
      immediately, I was running late. I had some semblance of breakfast, said some form of brief morning
      prayers, and grabbed my suitcase to go. Just as I was running out the door to the airport for my
      all-important and very precious tour, my son Eitan, then five-years- old, said to me, “Dad, can you
      take this box with you?”
       
      He held up a little blue shoebox balanced in his hands.
       
      “Eitan, sweetie, do I need to take it now?” I asked him hurriedly.
       
      “Yes, Abba, yes, Pappa,” Eitan told me, “it’s very important. Take it and tell me what you think of
      it when you get home."
       
      He looked quite serious, and so I took the box, stuffed it in my suitcase, gave him a kiss, got
      into the car, and sped off into the whirlwind of the tour.
       
      A long 10 days later, I returned home close to midnight. Eitan, usually in bed by eight, was
      wide-awake, waiting patiently in the kitchen with a look of enormous gravitas on his face.
       
      “Eitan, honey, why are you up?” I asked him.
       
      “What do you mean, dad?” he asked. “I stayed up to hear what you think of my box.”
       
      A look must have crossed my face--I couldn’t even lie--for Eitan said, “Abba, didn’t you look at
      the box?”
       
      True meaning of loneliness
       
      I felt terrible. I ran back out to the car and dug through my lecture notes and clothes to find,
      beneath the piles, Eitan’s box.
       
      I came into the kitchen to see a tear finding its way down Eitan’s cheek. I sat down and gently
      said, “I’m sorry, Eitan. I had a crazy trip and I didn’t get to look at your box. Come; show me
      what’s in it.”
       
      We opened the box together. Inside was a seashell, a faded picture of me from a Florida newspaper,
      a tile, a marble, and a lock of Eitan’s baby hair. I was a little bit baffled. “What is all this?”
      I asked Eitan.
       
      “Dad, these are my things,” Eitan said to me as another tear ran down his cheek. “I gave them to
      you and you didn’t even see them.”
       
      At that moment, I understood what loneliness truly means. We all have boxes and in those boxes are
      our things, our authentic stuff. Not our jobs or titles, not our salaries or public-status
      trophies, just our stuff - the unique patterns and swirls of the soul; our soul print.
       
      Over the last century, rising tides of crime have helped introduce the new detective’s tool - the
      fingerprint.
       
      Modern biology and biochemistry have led us to DNA prints, the unique gene structure that makes up
      the signature of every human being. At the dawn of a new millennium we need to understand that DNA
      prints and fingerprints are ultimately just reflections of something far deeper - the soul print.
       
      Your soul print is the true essence of who you are; your soul print is your unique story in the
      world. As the great philosopher Ugo Betti declares, “When I say ‘I’ I mean a thing absolutely
      unique, not to be confused with any other.”
       
      Intimacy with the divine
       
      Your soul print is etched with the lines of your pathologies and fears, your hopes and your dreams,
      your memories, angers and all of those irreplaceable, fully special, pieces that make up in a
      unique combination the woven fabric of your story.
       
      Those “things” cannot be reduced to gender or religious affiliation; they cannot be reduced to
      statistical data available about you. They cannot be fully understood by socioeconomic, cultural,
      psychological, or any of the other standards used to judge a person or to understand a human being.
       
      Your soul print is the unique snowflake essence of your soul, which makes you who you are. Unlike a
      snowflake, however, it never melts.
       
      Your idiosyncrasy is integral to your essence. It is strange, sad, and sometimes funny to realize
      that we spend so much of our energy and time trying to fit in and hide our idiosyncrasies - when
      what we should be doing is let them be revealed – viewed from the casing of our Soul Print Boxes,
      flaunted proudly as our soul print banners.
       
      This then, is the true meaning of the Zoharic understanding of Lech Lecha – Go to Yourself: An
      invitation to your infinite and unique soul print, through which you become intimate with your
      self, with the other, and with the divine.
       
      ~ ~ ~
       
      Rabbi Mordechai Gafni - Teacher and student of Torah; Leader of Bayit Chadash Spiritual Community
      and Movement; Chair of Integral Kabbalah at Integral Institute of Ken Wilber
       
      The "Bayit Chadash" website: www.bayitchadash.org
       
       


       
       
       
      Scuptor's private passage on display
       
      Goro Hirata's artistic journey through Southeast Alaska on display in gallery
       
      By DAWNELL SMITH Anchorage Daily News
       
      Published: November 13, 2005 Last Modified: November 13, 2005 at 03:52 AM
       

      Photo of Goro Hirata
       
      Once upon a time an old man had a shining ball of light that he kept in a box. A raven found out
      about it and decided to steal it from him. The raven flew over to a tree branch that loomed over a
      river near the man's house. The bird stayed on a branch and waited.
       
      When the old man's daughter came to fetch water from the river, the raven turned himself into a
      leaf, floated from the tree down to the river and from there slid inside the daughter's body. ...
       
      -- from Tlingit mythology
       
      When Goro Hirata speaks, he sounds like a kayak paddle sweeping below the surface, rhythmic and
      steady as a blade pulling against the sea -- pull lift pause splash, pull lift pause splash. His
      voice cuts the surface with the softest slap, then pulls through an idea until silence says its
      peace.
       
      Last year, this slight and quiet Japanese sculptor built a kayak and explored the Inside Passage
      alone. Raven drew him there. The journey began about 10 years ago when Hirata read a Japanese
      translation of the Tlingit story about how Raven gave humanity the moon by stealing it from an old
      man who had trapped it inside 10 nesting boxes.
       
      Those nesting boxes tell his story, too. Since his time as a student, he has sculpted holes and
      dwellings from natural materials. He thinks of them as places to inhabit alone, places with
      singular views of the sky, the weather, the world.
       
      "This small hole is my starting point," he said. The idea of nesting boxes "for me, is close to my
      work and very close to my mind. In humans, we have many boxes. Everybody has a box."
       
      During his artistic journey up the Inside Passage, Hirata built 10 boxes to represent the 10
      nesting boxes that held the moon.
       
      As sure as the raven sees more of the world from up high than a lone traveler in a kayak down low,
      Hirata saw more of the Inside Passage than most people, but still only a sliver of its vastness.
       
      "I traveled a very small part," he said. "It was like opening a door and seeing through just a
      little crack."
       
      Along the way, he built rock, mud and clam shell sculptures that will soon give way to the
      elements. He documented them but never intended them for public viewing. For him, the sculptures
      represent a private passage.
       
      But his work also relies on natural materials, which makes many people compare it to the
      environmental art of Andy Goldsworthy, a British-born artist who creates arches, domes, spires and
      other forms from rock, wood, ice, feathers and so on. Hirata's photographs at the International
      Gallery of Contemporary Art this month certainly share Goldsworthy's sensibility about materials.
      The images in the central gallery document the sculptures Hirata made on his trip.
       
      One photo shows a mud mound in the middle of a tear-drop of seawater, no footprints in sight.
      Another shows a swirl of clam shells built into a conical sculpture on a flat-rock base set on a
      boulder. Still others show rock structures of varying heights, most photographed against the hues
      of climate and landscape.
       

      Photo:  "Raven and a Whale," Cape Fanshaw, Alaska
       
      Yes, Hirata shares Goldsworthy's appreciation and use of natural materials, but their work differs
      in intent and inspiration, said Julie Decker, an artist and board member with the International
      Gallery.
       
      "I think both create works that are personal and intellectual," she wrote via e-mail. "But Goro is
      not inspired or influenced by Andy Goldsworthy. I think Goro once described Goldsworthy's work as
      poetry and his own as a longer story."
       
      Where Goldsworthy's work seems to make a statement about the materials, the land and the
      environment, Hirata's speaks to something bigger, said Decker -- "to this concept about how we see
      the world, how we exist in space, how containment allows us to experiences things differently, how
      we can learn to see more acutely."
       
      Soon after, the daughter gave birth to a child. The child had dark skin, and his pitch-black
      shining eyes had a supernatural light to them. The child began to cry demanding to see inside the
      box. Because the child cried so hard the old man decided to open the box. When he opened the box
      there was another beautifully engraved box inside. Inside was another box. When he opened the 10th
      box, it had a beautifully woven basket inside. Inside the basket was a white shining ball of light.
      ...
       
      Paddling alone up the Inside Passage from Ketchikan to just north of Juneau took Hirata on an inner
      passage of himself. He had to pay attention to the weather and sea. Early in the journey, he got
      his first taste of danger when the wind picked up and the waves got rough.
       
      "I made an escape to shore, but close to shore I saw big waves," he said. "That was my first
      dangerous situation, but I found a small village to escape (to) and the people there helped me."
       
      Truth is, people helped him everywhere, from artists who put him up in their homes to skeptical
      park rangers in kayaks. Hirata's encounters with people and danger filled his days on the water,
      but the most difficult part had to do with finding the right place for each sculpture, deciding the
      appropriate form and then gathering the materials.
       
      The actual paddling and building were easy, he said. It was the watching and searching that took
      time -- the paying attention to weather changes and landing grounds; the searching for sculpture
      sites and waiting for good light for photographs.
       
      The photos he took make up the public part of his art. They offer moments in time, place,
      orientation and experience, each a box of its own. Hirata's exhibit doesn't attempt to express the
      whole of his yearlong endeavor or even nudge toward the meaning of his inner passage. The postcard
      that announces the show states only the dates and title, "Raven Steals Light," and Hirata's exhibit
      doesn't have an artist's statement except for a typed page that tells the Tlingit story of Raven
      stealing the moon.
       
      Artist Don Mohr of the International Gallery generally avoids applying meaning to art, least of all
      someone else's, but he spent a lot of time with Hirata. Mohr sees the whole idea behind Hirata's
      journey as fanciful and imaginary. He appreciates Hirata's dedication, but Mohr mostly admires his
      obsession.
       
      "I respect obsession," Mohr said. "In artists, I mean. Goro has that."
       
      In Hirata's case, the obsession has to do with closing off what you don't need in order to focus on
      the essence of something, said Decker, "but that essence is very esoteric, very ephemeral."
       
      During this trip, Hirata entered a large space and built small ones, she said, "and he experienced
      those spaces, those were for him. The documentation of those experiences and those spaces is for
      us. I understand the work on an emotional, gut level and find it fascinating. But I find it
      difficult to articulate its purpose or meaning. It is without a tangible purpose -- it is
      impractical, it is compulsive, it is obsessive. But I don't use those as negative words. His
      journey was those things in the way that any intellectual, spiritual endeavor is. ... I see it as a
      kind of universal desire to test oneself, to have a meaningful experience, to discover something
      new, to stretch the mind. ..."
       
      Once the sphere was out of the box, it began to light up the room. The child asked the man to open
      the skylight so he could see the sky. At the moment the man did what he was asked, the child turned
      into a raven and flew away into the sky with the bright sphere.
       
      The raven flew to the summit of a high mountain and threw the sphere up into the sky. The sphere
      turned to the moon and stayed there. It still keeps going around the sky.
       
      Hirata's worn, scuffed kayak hangs in the north room of the International Gallery this month, along
      with several landscape photos and pencil-marked maps he used on his trip. He built the boat as a
      sculpture, using metal tubing as armature and white nylon as skin. He shaped the narrow wood paddle
      and painted the blades black and red.
       
      The only sample of his art -- a flat rock sculpture -- sits alone in the south room, tall and full
      of light.
       
      With so little explanation, the exhibit leaves many questions unanswered, but Hirata never meant it
      to end a journey. He meant it to continue the one he's on. In the short term, he wants to complete
      his route by reaching the heights of Mount Fairweather in Glacier National Park. He might also make
      a book of photos and stories since, for him, turning the pages feels a lot like walking and
      traveling -- like going to the next place, or pulling a box out of a box.
       
      Despite his hopes, Hirata can't say for sure when or if he'll make it back to the Inside Passage,
      but he knows that returning to Japan this month will take him further and further from his
      experience and work.
       
      "For me, it is a difficult situation to make a lot of work for galleries and museums," he said.
      "After I start my traveling, I am very free. I can think about only my traveling, only my work."
       
      Every artist wants inviolable time to do art, but most don't get or make the opportunity, said
      Decker, at least not for a full year, 24 hours a day.
       
      "I think artists like Goro have ideas that are bigger than what a gallery can hold," she said.
       
      Already, Hirata feels the tug of schedules and obligations. Everyday he moves further from his
      inside passage, but he knows something opened up because of the trip, something as yet unknown and
      unseen, a box to another box.
       
      In the din of Barnes and Noble last week, Hirata as kayak paddle softly slapped through the sea of
      voices and began to pull against an idea before letting silence say its peace.
       
      "I don't think I know yet what changed inside myself," he said.
       
      ~ ~ ~
       
      RAVEN STEALS LIGHT continues at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art through Nov. 27. Goro
      Hirata will speak in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau as part of the Alaska Design Forum lecture
      series. In Anchorage, he will appear at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Anchorage Museum of History and
      Art. Cost is $10 for the general public, $7 for museum and Design Forum members and $5 for
      students. (566-0256)
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