Tuesday, July 28, 2009

inner visions

This is one of the reasons why I'm drawn to the Himalayas...I've been there in my dreams countless times as a child (i believe beyond this life), visited its foothills as an adult, and made a vow to go back. It is one of the most important power centers of this planet and I feel it is one of my spiritual homelands. The force that drew me there made me stop doing art for years and pursue an interest in a Kashmiri-Himalayan form of Sufism as a student of Persian and Islamic mysticism. The main person I was drawn to was a Persian-speaking Muslim mystic from the thirteenth century called Najm ad-din Kubra who had a discipline involving spiritual alchemy and visualization techniques of the seven colored subtle centers of the body (called latifah), much like the system of chakras developed in India and adopted into Tibetan Buddhism that developed in the Himalayas (there is very little reliable information on the web about Kubra and the order he founded, but this link gives a tiny glimpse of what Kubra was all about). Kubra's teachings were carried to Kashmir and became the foundation of the Kubrawiyya order of Sufism. If you would like to know more about the Kubrawis and another Kashmiri Sufi order that sprung off of their order, I recommend two of my friends' work (once you study something this obscure, you're bound to meet and befriend the two main experts on the subject). Check out Jamal Elias: The Throne Carrier of God : The Life and Though of 'Ala ad-dawla as-Simnani. The available online as a partial scanned preview here
and Shahzad Bashir: Messianic Hopes and Mystical Visions: The Nurbakhshiyya Between Medieval and Modern Islam, which you can also peep here .

After spending several years learning the languages and everything I could find about this line of teaching, I went to Srinagar, Kashmir to seek the legacy of the Sufis and Tibetan Buddhist teachings (as a grad student) and returned completely reborn (as an artist)...Ironically, what made me want to pursue my studies was what ended up releasing me from a carrier path that was no longer giving me any sort of spiritual satisfaction. I quit school and decided to approach my search from an angle that was more true to who I am..more of a visionary than an academic. I had to restart from scratch...but I feel more alive than ever and my passion for seeking the truth keeps me going even when the conditions get fucked up. [artwork by balaa]

This is for my fellow seekers who have been asking me to share more of my spiritual interests through my blog...a rare glimpse into the life of Tibetan Buddhists masters who have dedicated their life to finding enlightment, and much like their Sufi counterparts, were seeking liberation through the realization of the fundamental unity of all beings...that is the true meaning of LOVE...the most powerful vibration of the universe and the biggest threat to those who have usurped this-wordly power through a discourse of war and fundamental difference (=inborn inequality) between beings.

[This is a rare footage from 1963, when for the first time, the Dalai Lama allowed a Westerner, Desjardins, to film the heart of the Tibetan tradition. The original 60s commentaries are dated, take it with a grain of salt]


m ßy+z said...

A wonderful story, full of splendor, and echoes many of my own experiences / life paths (for me, it's the Aymara culture of Bolivia I'm drawn to). Your spiritual journey comes through in your paintings. Thanks for the read, the inspiration, and the art--and keep on keepin on!

AMALIA said...

Beautiful reading. It's always so sweet to connect on a deeper level with artists. I'm bored of all the self-promo glorification. hehe

I too left the academic land, art history and creative writing degree bound...problem. I wanna smell it, taste it, have em grains of sand stuck underneath my nails...couldn't do that reading book after book.

Creativity til infinity.