The Ascension of Saint Susan

The wave of awareness is swelling.  One day perhaps we will climb aboard and surf it to a new  level of human consciousness.  But just below that place of being right here, Present, Now, in the kitchen, in the car, in the garden, and not lost in the maze of our convoluted thoughts, there is a second level of illusion that is very easy to fall prey to. As we attempt to move from mind into presence, and stand right there in the room we are in, we may easily miss the trickster.


The level I am referring to is that kitchen, living room, car, garden, are all mental constructs.  Not only are these constructs conceptual, but powerful because they are collective consciousness constructs. Indeed, this collective reality is the one we go to when we seek the truth of our being.  We say, I am going to be here and now, no matter how boring doing these dishes can be.  But in doing so, we miss the deeper truth that doing the dishes is a collective concept only, along with dishes and the kitchen sink.

Enter the visual artist:  Once, long ago, I taught art and theater at a summer camp in the Catskill Mountains.  At night the other counselors and I went through the dark woods to a mysterious bar that somehow existed in the nearby forest.  As I sat with various counselors at a large table vibrating with quips and sarcastic remarks followed by too loud a burst of laughter for whatever was said, the fellow sitting next to me actually made sense.  He said, “The bar tender says he doesn’t have words in his head, only pictures.”

No doubt this too was followed by a burst of beer-lubricated laughter.  I immediately lifted my beer mug, walked straight to the bar and landed the mug with a thud. “Is it true,” I asked the bartender, “that you don’t have words in your head, only pictures?” The man gave one solid nod of his head as he mopped the surface of the bar.  I knew I had a friend.  He was a photographer, a Greek man, with a beautiful Greek wife and two equally gorgeous children.  We became friends for the length of time that summer camp lasted.  Beyond coincidence, many years later, at a party in Berkeley, California, I met him again.  How could this possibly be?  Yet it is true.

My point is this: While engaged in the act of true photography or painting, one sees only shapes, forms, colors, without names.  This brings the frequency of perception ever higher, and this is the reward of being an artist.  Built into the process of the visual arts is a place of pure awareness, beyond words.  In writing,  this same place exists, because the writer is surfing a silent wave of awareness that leaves in its wake a footprint of words in a kind of snow.  Readers track where the writer has gone by reading the footprints we call words.  Words simply fall from the writer’s pen or computer as the writer is propelled by the wave of awareness he or she  rides.  To step out into that world where words are not attached to every dish and stop sign, where only energy exists in the form of colors, shapes, patterns, takes us directly into the place we all seek.  We slip out of our tenacious clutching of the atoms of “physical reality” and find profound rest in the nameless world  just behind the energy array before us.

Why let all of the collective concepts given to us – computer screen, spoon, table, house, car, man, woman, late, early, alive, dead,  gone, coming, good, bad, right, tragic, joyful,  wrong, happy, unhappy, fair, unfair, rude, sweet – all fall away? Because by dropping all forms of identifying-with and identification-of each drop of this white water of nameless experience that rushes by us constantly, we gain the pleasure of our being, the one we search for in everything else. There is only one way to permanent peace, and that is to let all of the false promises of naming every object, incident and feeling go. Be without understanding but with heartfelt knowing in a nameless sea of energy expressions of what it feels like  to Be.

Article and Painting (The Ascension of Saint Susan ) by Ross Drago

Paint Rag Magazine.