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Posts Tagged ‘Meister Eckhart’

“Greenie’s Barn”– GC Myers, circa 1994



And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.

― Meister Eckhart



The magic of beginnings

That is such an elegant phrase. Poetic. Leave it to Meister Eckhart, who last showed up here just a week or so back. 

The advantage of these using these short maxims is that they can often possess meanings apart from those that were intended by the original speaker. Meister Eckhart was most likely talking about some sort of religious awakening or changing one’s life in a positive manner.

I don’t really know.

But I am pretty sure that the meaning I attach to his adage might divert from his own.

For me, the message in it rings true in regards to going back to look at work from when I was first painting, when I was just gaining a toehold on whatever direction my painting might go or what form it might take. It was a time of finding voice, as I have said many times here.

It was also a time that possessed the magic of beginnings.

It’s that time when there is a blank slate before you and you are standing there with the few tools that you have brought with you– your own experiences, your observations of the world, some desire to create something of your own, an affinity for the visual, and maybe a little time spent doodling in the columns of newspapers and journals.

But beyond these things, you are a clueless, empty vessel. Everything is new. Every day is at least one new lesson learned. Each new piece has some sort of revelation, pointing out those things that resonate and those things that most definitely do not.

Every new stroke or color was an epiphany, like discovering the “open sesame” that unlocked the door that opened to new and wide horizons of possibility.

It truly felt like magic at the time.

Now, it still feels like magic– at times. Sometimes I find myself feeling like the wizened old magician who has pulled his rabbit out of his hat day after day for twenty five years. Yeah, it’s still a great trick for those who haven’t seen it before but it has lost the thrill for the magician, has lost that excitement that came with first learning that trick, on first wanting to display his newfound feats of magic to a crowd.

So, I sometimes go back and look at these old pieces from that time, those pieces that represent the magic of beginnings for me. And I almost always find something that I have lost over time, a small thing that somehow was set aside through a conscious choice or simply forgotten.

And finding these little things reignites that magic that came in the beginning. It changes my perspective, allows me to get out of the ruts of time that have been blocking my vision.

There is inevitably something from these forays into the past that I bring back with me to the present. A reminder to do something a bit different than the way I have fallen into the habit of doing it over a long period of time. Maybe even something as basic as how I start each new painting. These old pieces may not be gems in their own rights but they have raw material whose potential I can use.

But more importantly, they have the magic of beginnings within them.

And that is what I am seeking anew…

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“Seeking the Design”- At the West End Gallery



As the peculiar faculty of the eye is to see form and colour, and of the ear to hear sweet tones and voices, so is aspiration peculiar to the soul.

–Meister Johann Eckhart



Don’t have a lot of time this morning but wanted to just share a few lines from Meister Johann Eckhart who was a German theologian/philosopher that lived in the second half of the the 13th century, dying around 1328 while waiting to hear the verdict on charges of heresy set against him. In more modern times Meister Eckhart has undergone a revival, being hailed in some circles as a mystic.

I don’t know about that but I do find his observations are often quite insightful and sometimes align closely with my own thoughts on certain subjects, especially on artistic expression– though I believe he is describing religious expression but let’s not split hairs, okay?– and the creative process. 

For example:

To be properly expressed a thing must proceed from within, moved by its form: it must come, not in from without but out from within.

This pretty much sums up what I have been saying for some time, that our real artistic voice takes in influences from without but synthesizes and adds to them inside ourselves to create a unique expression of self.

Or there’s this:

Only the hand that erases can write the true thing. 

That sounds very much like a line from Hermann Hesse’s Demian — Hesse probably pinched the idea from the old Meister– that has hung with me for a long time: Whoever wants to be born, must first destroy a world. Real change in this world and in one’s singular life demands a willingness to leave the past behind completely. 

Then there’s this one:

When the soul wishes to experience something, she throws an image of the experience out before her and enters into her own image.

This couples well with the line at the top about the aspiration of the soul. I have always held on the belief that if we truly want something of great significance in our lives, we internally and externally create the conditions for us to reach some form of that desire. I believe this actually a popular concept among modern self-help gurus but, of course, it’s not so quick or easy as they make it sound. The real proof is often decades in coming to fruition and even then it may appear in a form that you didn’t realize was your desire at the beginning.

But the soul knows better what the soul wants and needs.

Okay, there are a lot more examples from Meister Eckhart — for example, a relevant fave: Form is a revelation of essence –but I have to get to work, to express my peculiar faculty of the eye and attempt to reveal my essence. His words, not mine.

You go do what you do and try to have a good day in the process.

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Endless Thanks



“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”

― Meister Eckhart




In this week of giving thanks, let’s keep it simple, much as the words of Meister Eckhart above suggest. Let’s not add conditions to our thanks, not ask to receive while we are giving. Let’s just be generous and sincere with our words of gratitude.

And oddly enough in this crazy year, there is still much to be thankful for. Maybe this year has made those things even more apparent to us, made us appreciate the small wonders in our lives.

The hug of a friend. A kind word or other small courtesy from a stranger. The eyes that carry the smile hidden behind someone’s mask.

It doesn’t take much effort to see how these small things add great depth to our lives. And it takes even less to acknowledge our thanks.

So, that being said, I extend my thanks to you for spending a moment with me this morning.

I really do appreciate it.

Have a good day and show some gratitude to those around you even though it’s only the day before Thanksgiving. You don’t have to wait for tomorrow nor be stingy with your thanks. There is an endless supply of them available to us and they work perfectly fine for every other day of the year.



Some added online info on Meister Eckhart:

Meister Eckhart (1260- 1327) was a Germany mystic, theologian and philosopher. Eckhart taught a radical religious philosophy of seeing God in all. His mystical experiences and practical spiritual philosophy gained him a popular following, but it also caused him to be tried for heresy by a local inquisition. Despite having writings condemned as heretical, he remains an important source of mystical experience within the Christian tradition.

I would like to throw heretics on my list of folks to thank, please and thank you.

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Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.

Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)

********************

In the last few days I finished a small group of paintings to add to the several I had already submitted for the West End Gallery‘s annual Little Gems show that opens on Friday. I hadn’t been planning on doing these additional pieces as I have other work that needs to be started. But there was something in the original pieces that I took out last week that lit that spark that I had been futilely searching for in the first month of the year. So, I thought I had been stick with it for a bit to see where it goes.

This piece, which I call Sorrow’s Companion, is one of the new paintings to emerge. Since it’s been done, I keep coming back to this one to just peer at it, all the while trying to discern what I am seeing and feeling in it.

There’s something very sorrowful in it’s imagery. The dark clouds in the sky. The empty chair. The dead tree with the lone crow on a branch. The empty horizon. It all point to the sorrow of loss of someone or something.

Yet, despite the sense of sorrow there is dull sunlight peeking through the gray in the sky. As the 14th century German theologian Meister Eckhart pointed out in his words at the top of the page, light is found in the darkness and is always nearest in our sorrow.

The light is sorrow’s companion.

So, I see this piece as having an air of melancholy but it is an optimistic melancholy, if there can be such a thing. Maybe this comes from understanding that true sorrow comes from knowing the feeling of true love. And there is a certain joy in just having experienced that feeling that lingers through the sorrow.

Sorrow doesn’t come without joy…

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