The Shrine of Amaterasu

Homage to Metabolism 2021

Richard presents:

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#1 daughter Amelia asks. “Why are you going to such effort to make that shrine? Its just sitting in your garden, who’s going to see it?. I mean, thats a lot of work and material” She’s not being critical, she’s just truly interested in artistic motivations. It’s always been a deep interest of mine too, being a person who never knows how I feel about things until I say it out loud. I have this compulsion to see my ideas made real in the world. Some kind of satisfaction happens in making suff “real”. In this “making real”, it feels like an unfolding mystery appears. An understanding of one’s place in the world. The process unfolds like opening a set of Matrushka nesting dolls. There is no greater fun for me in this world.

I tell Amelia, “The Shrine is an homage to Ise Jingu Shrine in Japan — a shrine dedicated to the Sun Goddess Amaterasu.” My understanding is that the form of that shrine looks like a traditional rice barn, so, get it? Sunlight makes food. Life goes on which in turn links this food storage building to metabolism and to the biochemistry that turns food into being. Did I say I have a lifelong fasscination with Metabolism? I DO.

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So I answer her… “Good question! I think, taking all that trouble is to memorialize a state of mind; to remember, personally, I had a moment of inspiration and in a wider sense, to release us from the “spectacle of lies” pouring out of our media, to come back to reality…There’s a starter for ya.” Yes, a lot of work to make the thing, and in a ritual of “rendering the sanctuary eternal,” the actual shrine in Japan is torn down and rebuilt every 20 years…and has been rebuilt every 20 years for well over a thousand years, maybe that’s a clue.”

Rice Barn–Traditional

Amaterasu and the Ise Grand Shrine goes back to the beginning of things when I was an art student at the Corcoran School in DC, when the tectonic plates of the art world had shifted,…again. We’d entered the age of—nothing-was-supposed-to-represent anything else. Extreme abstraction. Minimalism. Some called it Formalism. Art was only supposed to represent itself. That was the ambient look of the age when I was in art school. 1966-1973. And in this case, this sculpture was made to occupy the mental space, to say, “I EXIST”. There is no way to mistake this for anything else. We youngsters weren’t to be in the business of making pictures OF anything, or sculptures OF something. Presence was everything. It was the tough-guy school of art. And who at 20, (when that sculpture, Bastion was made) didn’t want to be a tough guy? A tough guy hanging out with the Alkie-Brawlers at the Cedar Bar in NYC. (As if I was capable of any of those shenanigans at that pup age.) That all changed, my age, and with it pretty quickly everything else. The revolution was on…liberation politics was the air we breathed…and I was prime draft bait for Vietnam with an unlucky 12 in Nixon’s blood lottery.

And, weren’t we learning that art making was, yes, a serious business, a part of the revolution? To us, Art was the revolution. Abstraction had been poised to be a future 1000-year-dynasty-of-rigor—the truth was at hand. Then, just like that, in the style factories of the Art World, Minimalism strode in to sweep up all that fervant Expressionist goo. You can still get a whiff of the smoke of “Abstraction-is-Truth” and it did, it changed the way we look at a painting, the way we make sculpture. and then POP martched in and all that higher-value business vanished like smoke, burnt to a crisp in the bonfires of the banal. Are you fluent in the language of CAMP?

As the whole rolling circus of the frenzied marketplace for art steamrolled any idea of that higher power, the Minimalists were at work on stripping art down to the bones. Then money had become the highest value in the art world. Though it was a paltry substitute for the “ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night…” (Howl 1955, Allen Ginsberg). Art had become abstract just at the same time money itself was becoming ever-more abstract. The trading of futures, financial insturments, puts & calls, crypto currencies. (I need to point out here that the building of Art Mind Park was financed, in part by the sale of some of my interest in BitCoin) The modern agenda, as I have often pointed out was the “whittling the fat log of meaning down to a toothpick…” Trying to land on the runway to purity-ville. Then, all of a sudden in the midst of all that mental wool-gathering, I saw something that truly moved me beyond how I THOUGHT about things, and suddenly I was reconciled to something that held my wonder. Wasn’t wonder the thing that got me into this business in the first place? I just wanted to be let out of a kind of mental jail I’d put myself in. You could hear the rattle of troops suddenly marshalling awake and at attention, ready for the next skirmish with “Old Hat”. I saw the picture book in the school library documenting the Re-building of the Ise Jingu Grand Shrine and I fell in love with a building. It was close to that feeling of the heart’s shutters suddenly flung wide open. Fresh air abounds. Who doesn’t want to stroll into the kind of space present in Juan Gris’ painting “The Open Window.”

Juan Gris “The Open Window” 1921

Grand Shrine of IseThe connection to forever

When I opened the book on the Shrine, I felt pretty much tossed across a threshold. I had been cranked down hard on the idea of purity, tightened down to stay put, ’cause I just wanted something to be true in the middle of the mental anguish of being drafted to fight in a war that was a lie…And here was this perfect thing, this purity of a Shinto Shrine. I knew then, that one of art’s many tricks is surprise. Japanese art was on my agenda, since a visit to San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden as a ten year old— but I wasn’t that single-minded to have had that at the front of the mind all this time, but it was there. 

That Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is purposed, like any Japanese Garden or shrine or temple is purposed; to calm a restless spirit. A restless spirit, to the Shinto sensibility, is a grave danger to the soul, to folks in general, a disturbance to a kind of “rightness” of which the Japanese are so fond. To re-create the perfection underlying all things is also Shinto to the core. The workmanship at Ise is flawless—so as to tamp down the disturbance of misplacement. The materials are so simple, unadorned. In the photographs I saw chisel-cuts showing no effort in the shaved wood. The trails of the journey of its making were visible, woven into its look. Can you be in love with a cultural sensibility? I was.

The Shrine at Ise which I saw in a that new book in 1967 led me to think more deeply about purity. As the world became more polluted, a longing surfaced for some kind of true thing. A book by anthropologist Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger surfaced flavoring a lot of academic thinking, also, and especially in Art School. That formalist approach found its way to thinking about Art. The way was simplify or be tossed on the mental trash heap. “Not very Minimal, is it Lang?” I heard at one Crit, trying for an extravagance of colors and texture. Saying more with less was the rule of the day. (The excesses of the Counterculture were quick to come in to take up some slack).

My thinking at the time was: Is there anything more important, more pure than simply thinking up stuff and making it appear in the world? And here was my aspirational guidepost as I said to Amelia. —So, here’s the trail: A Shinto shrine mimiking the form of a rice barn, devoted to Amaterasu, Goddess of the Sun. The rice barn was a battery of stored energy loaded up from her gifts of the Sun. After all, our very metabolism goes all the way back to the beginning of life on earth. The chemical pathways that transform substance (food) to thought, to motion, to words, to music and actually everything to do with being a living being—is this thing, this metabolizing substance into action. Metabolism is a living fossil—and remains alive today.

That thought: how does what I eat become me, my thoughts, my actions? first came to me on an indelibly memorable hot summer night in 1958. I was bent double pukeing up a spoiled-lobster dinner into the gravel parking lot at Martie’s Steakhouse in Kankakee, Illinois. I was home from summer camp where I’d spent a summer catching and dissecting frogs. I liked this activity, peering into the loops and swags of a frog’s innards. I saw in my semi-digested food, floating like a carnival raft on a bumpy grey sea, some mystery revealed. That existential moment questioning “Hey where is the ME in all this meat”—to that effect anyway. “Hey, how does my food become this me, anyway.” That memory of being sick in a parking lot and having a genuine vision of reality, is like finding a trail back into the unconscious of our big mind. Is a ten-year-old capable of thoughts like this? It was a fully UN-formed thought, raw, junior epistomology. Who knows how these thoughts arise and how they lodge in memory. There was no book learning under my belt that would have revieled this to me at that time, but I had found this out, at least, that night that there were some pretty big mysteries waiting to unfold.. It would be genius to make an artwork memorializing that pile of puke, but I don’t think I’m up to the task. (yet!)

Where is our devotion now? Devotion to a higher power, besides our two main concerns in life — continued existence and comfort. Right? Higher Power for me means watching ideas come into being with some momentum and realizing these ideas in space. Higher Power? The Higher Power I am devoted to is the wonder of thinking up something and making it take its place in the world. The purity I’ve come to trust is this: There is a river running under each human life. You can’t just say…yes, there is a higher power…so what? Higher Power means you regularly SWIM in that River. How do you swim? For me, it’s a dive into art-making as I felt called. But it’s anything you feel called to do. That River goes along and you trust that river to flow all the way back to the moment when life itself was invented. Devoted art practice, for me, means you are devoted to the flow of the river. Look, people, been talkin’ about this forever…AND it seems most of our troubles stem from loosing touch with this idea: FOREVER…Forever is the sea of sanity we swim in if we allow ourselves. I can only say my devotion has been strengthened by looking at Art, making Art, teaching others to do the same. Something happened when, as art teachers Judith and I sat in the Cavern of Peche Merel with special permission to draw those horses for a quiet hour without the throngs of tourists; access 22,000 years ago when the horses were painted, was only gained by crawling through a half mile of chilly mud, and then looking away from your drawing pad to see a footprint of a child fossilized into the mud now stone. Holy, holy, holy.

What’s important to me is that I TRUST THE RIVER. It’s been under my feet all along. So this piece I made 50 years ago still has that good ‘ole sausage gravy flavor of a true thing. I made the sculpture Bastion 1970, trying for a purity, and 50 years later, I still like it. It has pointed me back to the original source, the shrine of Ise Jingu, the #1 Shinto shrine in Japan.

That sculpture was trying to key into the norms of art-making in 1969-70; that striped down look of 70’s “High Art’. I made it inspired by a picture in a book that caught my imagination in an interested look at a new book in the school library. The book was a photo essay on the rebuilding of the Ise Shrine. The Shinto crafters tear it down and rebuild the thing from the ground up every twenty years, and they’ve been doing exactly that for 1350 years. They do this, I’m told so the next genaration has the knowledge and skill to do it. I was interested in the pictures, purely the forms. I didn’t have much interest in the meaning, of this, the primary shrine of Shinto, it just felt like it was something I wanted to make. Something that would fulfill my agenda approaching “is-ness” in the current agenda of Formalism. Formalism was the last bastion in the agenda of modernism, namely stripping art works of any possible misinterpretation, down to the bones. Think of the Donald Judd sculptures in Marfa Texas. This bit from an essay in Artnet is to that point:

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“They are perfect “specific objects,” the fulfillment of Judd’s 1967 essay. It might sound deathly boring, more math problem than artwork, but wandering through the installation is a constant affirmation of the simple possibility of sensation, all the ways that the human eye can perceive shifts of light and space and the ways that an artist can intentionally shape that perception.”

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My ongoing curiosity with the flow of Art History began back then—I wanted to get on board the program, to put my spit in the stream as we were fond of saying. The roof line of Ise Jingu is what got me. Still does. I made the thing. I like making things appear in the world, it’s one of life’s great satisfactions whether its a loaf of bread or the Taj Mahal. The eco-sustainability movement was just beginning to stick its head into the popular imagination. Here, I was loving the idea of using what was at hand in a combination of virtuous re-use, plus I was too broke to buy new materials. The beams to make this sculpture (Bastion) were all picked out of some construction rubble.

Noah, Amelia and Eli, picking up beached glass on Murano Island, Venice. Notebook sketch made, c.1995 while waiting for the water taxi
Beached Murano glass applied in 2021 to the 17 inch glass hemisphere
found on Kehoe Beach c.2004

I thought of this sculpture made so long ago, inspired by a Japanese shrine, as a student’s fullfillment of the Minimalist agenda— Turns out, not surprisingly, the unconscious, that River, is always at work—the shrine is dedicated to the Goddess Amaterasu, Goddess of the Sun. I didn’t know it at the time that the Shrine is centered on the structure of a traditional rice barn, a place to store the gifts of the sun—food. A storehouse of solar energy. The place we revere to provision our lives. A place to keep the ball of metabolism rolling along in each cell of our bodies. The thing that amazes me most is that the metabolic pathways are basically the same as those from life’s beginning on planet earth. 3.75 billion years ago. Same molecules, same enzymes…basically.

Chart of metabolic processes—the bane of Organic Chemistry students, of which I was one.

So, a rice barn ’cause you really can’t eat all that rice at once—you store it up, see? For when there isn’t rice. This is the root of human civilization, storing food after the harvest, and protecting it from vermin and marauding neighbors, as well as a way of politically controlling a population. There would always arise moments of deprivation, where you would kiss every grain in gratitude for Amaterasu’s gift. And so, once we put Amaterasu’s gifts into play, energizing the body, we can visualize those pathways in the very complicated chart of intermediate metabolism. The chart is good for students of organic chemestry but for people who can “see” metaphor, I put a sculpture inside the sculpture.

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What came to mind for internal structure is the ancient Vedic conception of the energy centers of the body—the chakra system of visualizing how we conceptualize seven energy centers in our bodies. Experts in the old Vedic ritual boasted skills in linguistics, geometry, anatomy, astronomy and poetry, and they had been observing the forces of nature for centuries. As a dedicated meditator (since 1967) I feel these centers as a force of habit in my daily practice. So, I began the process of making these energy nodes to fit inside the Shrine.

There is always a grave danger in cultural appropriation. Misunderstandings can abound. Closer to my own (Jewish) roots would be the Sefirot, the Kabbalistic conception of the body’s center’s of energy. Frankly, I was looking for something simplier. The Sefirot has 10 centers and is linked to specific sounds as is the Chakra system. Sanskrit letters and letters in Hebrew—its thought letters hold power in themselves. I have no empirical data to verify this, and the truth is, I was never able to visualize the Sephirot as I was the Chakra system. So? “Sue me for living”, as my grandma Ida was fond of saying, or (Yiddish) Hak Mir Nisht Keyn Tschaynik…don’t hit me in the tea kettle. And, so? I’ll go with what seems to be coming through in my 3 AM reveries. Sue me for living.

Spiritual teaching and spiritual teachers give me the willies. Talk about reification!— as I undersatand reification; the commodification of spirit. Something precious turned to base substance. This is Golden Calf territory. Jeff Koons’ golden “Balloon Dog” sold for $58.4 millon at auction. Here at AMP we’re just trying for something true. As a conception of original sin, we’ve found the Garden of Eden story to have a deep truth. The Fall from the Garden would have come at the end of the last great Ice Age when agriculture took humans into “civilization” and the idea of reification took hold. Those Ice Age creatures, hunted for the whole of life’s sustenance, were spiritualized deep in the caves as Art. When Civilization took hold, those creatures came out of the Holy cave to became “MY COW” and that is “MY FIELD”. Who owns the world?

Just this AM 2/4/22, Amaterasu broke through the Oaks to accomplish THIS at 7:45 AM

This isn’t my first go at talking about the Kundalini Chakra system. My shower has mirrors lined up Chakra style, in the 90’s I made a piece called the Kundalini Elevator (Fleming Family Collection) which began with a careful drawing of a lizard wearing a jokey ballcap reading: “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go every where”. (Why is it so much of our humor comes from the 1st and 2nd Chakras? Sex and poop.

Remembering and restating the obvious, I have no claim on true wisdom here, Vedic or otherwise. I only respond to what occures to me as I gather objects to go into the shrine. Objects for the most part, found objects. Starting bottom up, the base Chakra, the bottom of the body, the anus and the sex centers. The barn on this property when first occupied functioned as a machine shop. Digging around we have found many metal pieces from a by-gone era. Gears, wheels, even the starter crank from a Model T. It seemed right the base would have weight. The cast iron wheels filled the bill for the weight felt as sexual longing. The heavy bowel feeling of a full rectum goes right along.

An aspect of AMP is time…swinging from the incept of this sculpture in 1970 to the glass-gathering pictured here on a family trip including a visit to Venice in 1993, to finding the glass hemispheres on Kehoe Beach in 2004 to retirement from my print studio/gallery in 2016 to building the base of reinforced concrete for this Temple. The posts are remnant from my time living at Pagliacco Wood turning, where I lived and helped create an artist’s residency (1974-1978). A long-haul project like this requires a kind of look at time down the wrong end of the telescope. The process comes by waiting for things to appear; actual stuff and the ideas as well. I’m awake each night at the 3AM hour when the bedroom becomes my “Observatory.” I try not to control this moment but wait with a notebook until ideas float by and into the room. The idea of visualizing the subtle Vedic body as structure, came in 2020 and final assemby in 2022, was just one of those ideas I have come to trust as “instructions.”

We float on a sea of time’s passage. Imagine a wide flat plain dotted with wells. All the wells are different but all the wells dip into the same water source. This seems a true idea of our collective history, in time, drawing water from these wells, connecting us via cultural ideas—this seems a true thing and engaging with a long-term project can put you in touch with different aspects of all minds—and the making of things, for example, over time. Its like this, a quick gestural drawing obviously engages a different mental space than making a sculpture over a fifty-year period. It’s very heartening for me to open these “rooms” of time. For, that’s what I see in the Chakras, rooms or even houses of experience. It’s like the moments you feel while raising a family, watching children develop and cascade through life’s stages. I’d had a dream when expecting my third child at a time when the relentless roll of caretaking was taking its toll; I was tired and wanted some imagined “space”. Yikes, another mouth to feed, more wakeful nights with infants, wakeful worry with troubled teens. A dream came where a tiny girl knocked at my front door. As I greeted her, swinging the door wide, in an instant, she became a young woman, full stature and very happy to see me. Amelia, the one who asked the question at the beginning of this essay was that dream girl.. The other two people in that notebook drawing from 1995, are also on the mudflats of Venice gathering shards of glass waiting for the boat-taxi on the island of Murano, Noah and Eli. Those colored glass bits are fixed to a glass hemisphere picked up on another beach close to home in the Point Reyes National Seashore. This hemisphere makes the 4th Chakra—the heart—as my family feel like my heart. The other half of the shere became the 2nd. It rings like a bell when struck. It’s the sex chackra, a pool of water sitting on the heavy weights of sexual longing. We’ve found many pieces of machinery on this property, once a functioning machine shop and the two very heavy iron wheels make the 1st, or base.

Having mentioned Donald Judd for shining a light on the idea of Minimalism (a phrase he hated by all accounts) was the idea. But, while “ya gotta dance with who brung ya to the dance” (of contemporary art. (in a parsing of modern vs. contemporary, it was Giacometti who brung me to modern.) Judd and the minimalist minion has receeded from the front of attention of the art world, save his creation of Marfa, Texas. Marfa set a standard for bringing to the world the presence of his thinking as presence. His ideas meshed with a counter-culture romance of escaping the distortions of the marketplace, to live free of the original sin of commodification. But the wheels of reification grind exceeding fine, and we see Marfa has become a tourist destination complete with its own Prada outlet. Its a city-planner rule of thumb that if the artists are granted exemption from stringent zoning regs, allowed to move in to rat’s-ass neighborhoods, improvement (inve$tment) will follow, zum bieispeil SoHo in NYC.

Art Mind Park? Yes, mind is a way of “seeing” art. Seeing art with your brain, as some neurologists would argue the eyes are distinctly included as part of the brain. Here at AMP we like the motto—counter to the Minimalists, “just give ’em something good to look at.”

As far as unpacking the meaning of these Chakras I’ll leave it to you dear reader, visitor, lurker. Finding sources on the web, there is a blizzard of info lurking there. You all know what to do—there is a lot of what we call New-Age Clap trap to wade through, lurking as mind traps. I’ll simply report what’s come to me personally. As psychiatrist and friend says, “We are but waves of light constrained by walls of circumstance.” As our friend poet Michael Hannon says “You can’t trust oblivion”

Here follows an explication of our feelings about the energy of the Chakras. Create your own meaning—as our guide in the philosophical realm Wittgenstein says, “The meaning is in the use.” And let us point out, the ball is always in your court. You say to yourself, what do I feel about, say, the first chakra. Here follows our take. This isn’t some Martha Stewart recipie for enlightenment. Fowwowing is a brief description of eaach “node” as I call them. Following that is a kind of memoir-y story of expierence. These stories may or may not be an entertainment, but are presented to act as a kind of magnetic tape to slide past your internal pick-up. they are unnecessary for understanding, and only presented to act as a mnemonic to spark your own understanding.

The 1st is the root, a place to ground the whole business. Think of seeing the very popular jellyfish displays in the aquarium tank, floating, clinching, floating in a dream-like light. At the Monterray Bay Aquarium those glassy bells are the room where they live you hear very floaty music. This is the base of your body. The antique rings/wheels are cast iron we ound in our barn and quite heavy. In the jellyfish clan, called Cnidarians they move by the characteristic pulsing motion activated by a ring, a neural net as a very early instance of neurons grouped to affect behavior. You night say, the first “brain” and characteristic of the pulsing orgasm in both women and men. Since the Cnidarians have only one opening for both eating and eliminating you can imagine that neural ring stretched until it forms the tube of the alimentary system from the ring of the mouth to the ring of the anus.

The 2nd is a glass hemisphere retrieved from Kehoe Beach. This and the glass hemisphere of the 4th were found together making the housing for a sea-borne measuring insturment. It was made in Falmouth MA. The 2nd is the sex chakra and as such prone to much confusion and misinterpretation. Everyone’s experience is at once the same and individually unique. Its a bowl of water with a blue marble sunk into it’s fullness. It sometimes feels right, that sexual longing is a feeling of fullness, wet, wanting nothing more than to overflow, to empty out. It is also the sound of the Shrine, when struck, rings with resonance. The blue marble feels like the tiny point at the start of the body’s experience of sexuality, growing to maturity and connection.

The 3rd is an authentic Samurai sword, once Judith’s father’s, he picked during his Navy Service, standing as an image of personal power. Its edge is razor sharp. I’ll just report a moment when the sword was drawn and flourished: I was home for a break from grad school. 18 months prior I was asked to give a presentation on contemporary art to the Kankakee Women’s Club . At a family dinner including the president of the club, I was touting my understanding of the archana of art, feeling full of myself as a grad student, wanting to explain the burgeoning realm of conceptual art, wanting to bring the excitement I felt for this strangest movement, the usual signifiers of art—skillful drawing, modeling, carving absent—all that was required was an idea that advanced the notion of what was possible. My excitement looped the whole table together with the exception of my surgeon Uncle at the other end who very theatrically mouthed the words BULL SHIT. The club president offered me a speaking engagrement for an honorarium of $175m(that would be over $1200 in 2022 $’s. Yes and yes and I had a year and a half to prepare. As the moment drew near I grew increasingly anxious.

The 4th is the heart. It can be a confusion tangled up with Romantic Love, but one true aspect of falling in love is the sense that, for a moment, the world is washed clean of it’s usual confusions. There is purity and clairity of purpose, the central attribute linking all the nodes of the chakras. My grandfather whenever he greeted his grandkids hooked pinkies and whispered, “endless chain” in a lasting gesture of filial piety. The bonds of family love show up in the colored glass gathered in a family moment on the island of Murono in Venice, pictured in the drawing from 1996. We had a beloved house keeper, Narkita who told a story of waking in the night with a burglar in the house. She fed him breakfast, saying there wasn’t nothin’ in her house for him but Jesus’ love.

The 5th is made from a Russian aluminum fishing float, now with myriad sloar powered twinkling lights inside. This is the voice of the shrine. That float was retrieved from Kehoe Beach by Shirley Saltzmzn, a woman we met at a dinner party who hearing about our beach gleaning from Kehoe, gave us this precious (to us) thing. The 5th can be thought of as the finding of YOUR voice. A thing artists of all sttripes talk about. Finding an authentic voice can feel sparkly like this. Maybe like grabbing a rope-tow on an old-timey ski slope. Woosh and you are moving uphill against gravity as your body is pulled along by the excitement of finding purpose.

The 6th is a wooden lightbulb. I had it made from a drawing and with the sword are the non-found objects in the Kundalini stack. Written, etched with a wood burning tool, are “thoughts”. This is the mind chakra. Included in the thoughts are some significant equations that changed our thinking: The Higgs equation, of recent fame at the Large Hadron Collider, the entropy equation of Ludwig Boltzman both made it onto the “bulb.” We etched a diagram of the Kreb’s Citric Acid cycle-the basis of metabolism. Wittgenstein’s famous: “The meaning is in the use” aphorism is there for explicating language is on the bulb. And for range I’ve included a thought from Charles Schultz, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Cormac McCarthy’s lines “scared money don’t win” and “a worried man can’t love” are ideas I’ve found useful over the years. These thoughts are the essence of the rational mind ably parsed out for us in Harvard psycologist Steven Pinker’s books Enlightenment NOW and Rationality.

The swing between rationality and the imaginal life can be felt dualistically as in this fortune cookie phrase: Swinging between two Poles: Chopin and Copernicus. A supreme romantic musician and a supreme scientific classicist who gave us the Heliocentric Solar System. Or maybe better, two rashers of Bacon. Both Francises; one the inventor of scientific reasoning in the 17th Century, the other Francis Bacon an unsettled and unsettling expressionist painter. Can you say Apollo and Dyonisis in the same breath? I have to say after a bout with strange doings in the ole bod, I’ll go with the rationalists any day.

The 7th, the topmost chakra, the crown, this is the connection to the eternal. Have you ever felt not just great, but completely OK? Like there was no room for improvement, no need for improvement. Happy beyond it’s opposite? This state is no special place, and that’s what makes it so special—not above anything else. As poet Robert Duncan says…

Often I am permitted to return to a meadow 
as if it were a given property of the mind 
that certain bounds hold against chaos,

that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.

The Vedic conception has a very specific liturgy, but I choose to allow instructions to come through into the “observatory”; open most nights at 3 AM. These descriptions are meant as pointers, obviously not as some kind of dogma. Think of a woman walking her dog. She points, “Look Rex, there’s Sally.” The dog looks at the finger. My hope is that I haven’t stepped on toes in my appropriative hunger, but I truly feel when instructions come through they are a true thing.

This completes the Shrine. It’s useful when meditating to internalize the sculptures as you practice your breathing exercizes. As you sit in a quiet spot, breathe, thinking of each of the chakaras with each breath. Don’t have any interest in meditation? You will, as the viscisitudes make life troubling, or a tough relationship issue roars up, or a jerky boss or problems with substances, or you just can’t stop buying shit you don’t want or need on Amazon, or the politics of lies gets you down, or maybe some ill-health blues is on repeat-play. Meditation won’t cure any of that, but it sure helps when it comes time to change the channel, to step away for a different perspective. I use a reducing lens, the opposite of a magnifyer to look at a painting I’m working on. Different perspecxctive. Meditation is my mental reducing lens. Do yourself a favor. I come from very practical people, refugees from murderous anti-semitic thugs who were suspitious of my lean toward art-making—and like Art, meditation is no salvation, but in the face of trouble it can be one practical step back for a wide-angle view.

This morning as the rising sun shone through the Oak branches, a ray of light, a gift from the goddess herself lit up the bowl of water sitting in the second place….

Just this AM 2/4/22, Amaterasu broke through the Oaks to accomplish THIS at 7:45 AM

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