This year the work for me is to try and dislodge the firm hold of the literal.
lit•er•al (lĭt′ər-əl) adj.:
1. a. according with the letter of the scriptures
b. adhering to fact or to the ordinary construction or primary meaning of a term or expression
c. free from exaggeration or embellishment
d. characterized by a concern mainly with facts
2. of, relating to, or expressed in letters
3. reproduced word for word: exact, verbatim
At one time I prided myself on not being a person who took things literally, but honesty eventually compelled me to admit I am bound as tightly as any to adhering to facts. The problem is that the more we know about the factual the more we discover that there ain’t no such thing. Of course, that’s actually a double negative and so does not “really” mean what it purports to mean. Catch my drift?
Which brings us to the third eye or as Hindu’s call it “Shiva’s eye. Eastern thought places the third eye in the middle of the forehead, slightly above brow level. Western Theosophists associate it with the pineal gland at the back of the head. In either case this eye is said to open upon a different reality or possibly more of reality than we perceive with normal vision. It is the eye of non-duality, the place of perception from which we recognize the unity of all things. It allows us to see visions and pierce the veil of time. New Age thought associates the third eye with enlightenment; a word which could meant ‘to bring light to’ but, I like to think of it as ‘to make lighter’ as in less heavy, as in feather-light on the scales of Ma’at.
I really love symbols, love the idea that a (literal) object can provide entrance to a whole field of dynamic tangible and intangible associations and meanings, but when it comes to depicting such abstractions artistically I find it incredibly difficult to jump the tracks and toot around in Rumi’s field.
I think it may be related to the extreme near-sightedness that afflicted my eyes most of my life (till laser surgery in my fifties). Nobody noticed until I was six years old and started school. I still remember the amazing clarity of that first pair of glasses and how quickly I became frightened of losing them. I think that fear has made me hold tight to the “facts “of what I see. Now, I want to loosen that grip a bit. I once had a mentor who told me “we teach what we need to learn.” My husband and I teach each other many things. I taught him to “soften his gaze.” It took a while for me to explain it clearly and him to understand what I meant. Now, he has incorporated it so thoroughly he uses it as a teaching tool professionally. Meanwhile, I am still struggling to learn the difference between discernment and judgement, to soften the gaze of my inner critic while pulling the veil from in front of that lidless third eye.
So here is my depiction of it – the third eye set in an energetic field of non-being. I don’t really like it. It doesn’t fit my aesthetic and feels raw and unfinished to me. I’m uncomfortable with it. But isn’t that the point?
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.
Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – 13th century