Mandalas

Jera - Year - 12x12 ink on paper original, unframed.

Jera – Year – 12×12 ink on paper original, unframed.

“ Mandala (Sanskrit Maṇḍala, ‘circle’) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe.[1] The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T.[2][3] Mandalas often exhibit radial balance.[4]

“In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. 

“In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.” Wikipedia

Space and place… we orient our selves to spaces and places. Within the territory of our awareness, we travel through our world and create maps, guideposts on the road of our lives. These abstractions of reality help us in maintaining a sense of order, logic and purpose. From this mapping the mind grows in complexity and dynamic understanding of the world, the universe. What exists in our world is manifested within our being. What is within our being is manifested in the world. An ecstatic dance occurs ‘tween in and out of creator, creating, creation. One can point to this or that, in or out, and say it is the source of intent… but in reality both are, and they work together as awareness rolls forward.

Triple Mandala, Ink on hand made paper

Triple Mandala, Ink on hand made paper

Diagrams of this dynamic process, mapping awareness have intrigued me for over 40 years. It started by mapping my world, grew into mapping and diagraming what I was learning. I am a visual person and the act of diagraming information made it easier to know and understand, the links often more interesting to me than the individual facts. Finally I fell in love with geometry and its ability to draw relationships between things. The mandala was introduced to me and I started to map my own mind, information, thoughts and feelings on paper. I was literally hacking my own brain.

The Ladder, sideways

The Ladder, sideways

The warrior’s path of freedom, dreaming and stalking, became a discipline of unwriting and writing the story of my own awareness. To that end, mandalas reflected the journey, the pathway, the walk of a thousand steps. They began to map the energy of shifting perceptions, a shift of the assemblage point. In creating these maps, pictures and diagrams… circles emerged, a great love for their representation of integrity and impeccability. There are no perfect circles in the universe of form. They do not naturally occur. But they universe is surely attempting to intend them all the time, thus we hold within our awareness the circle as abstract form and function. When we create a circle we are creating our own integrity, we are integrating our selves and defining our awareness.

Birth - Ink on paper

Birth – Ink on paper

As I studied at the traditional mandala and grew to draw them over and over, it became evident that something was missing. The missing piece in the whole tradition of the mandala is that of surprise, the random, the breaking of the circle… the place between integration and disintegration. Thus I began to break the circle, break the universe encapsulated in the map to search for what lies beneath, beyond and before. Searching for this energy we can all tap into, the diagrams began to become fractured, half triangles, squares and broken circles began to add up to something more universal to me than the static diagram of the classical mandala. Here we can enter not through the gateways of the cardinal directions but rather any point. And any point is in relation to any other point. We journey through the work as we do in life – the best way we can.

Being in Power

Being in Power

The eye darts from here to there in search of an order which is implicit in our own making. We are pattern generators. As we recapitulate the patterns, we reveal a greater mystery, which lies beneath, before, beyond. The patterns are growing old. While they are certainly beautiful and they help us to integrate and to know our selves and our world, there is always more to be explored. We can step beyond mastery into becoming artists dancing in the random pulse of a universe that is seeking continual renewal.

Birth of an Idea

Birth of an Idea

For this reason, I propose the mandalas that have been emerging from my drawing board. They speak to the path of freedom beyond the patterns, into the primordial ocean of being and non-being. They breath life into a universe of surprises.

 

 

 

What Does War Got To Do With It

Center Figure

Center Figure, Mescalito Spirals

As a Toltec, we use the term warrior to define the path that we are on daily. The warrior’s way, the spiritual warrior, the warrior of intent, these are some of the qualifiers that are present to soften the term warrior. The term in English goes back to a time of great conflict in Europe between tribes. Warriors were active participants in the act of war, conflict, and aggression. In the east, the term for warrior actually meant to serve or attend to a leader. The term from many indigenous tribes meant to provide and is more in kind with hunter. So how does this stack up with the Toltec path?

After years of walking the path, there is just no better term for the process of becoming a Toltec. A person passes from childhood, a time of receiving the programming of our culture, to adulthood with a significant emotional event. The pain of that event ties the individual to their path, their purpose. For many traditions, this time of passage was related to a quest. The individual looks carefully at the sum total of what they have received and choses what they are going to become. So often the purpose of this passage is to diminish the self-importance typical in childhood and train the attention to commit to something greater than the self.

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And the Takers have it

The Bear Spiral

The Bear Spiral

If I were to boil down all of the issues I see in the world today it would come down to the taker mentality. This is a pervasive and total infection in the human band of awareness. Though I have written about this before, it bears repeating.

Initially introduced to this in a work by Daniel Quinn, Ishmael, along with My Ishmael and The Story of B… Daniel managed to nail down an historical theme which underlays the whole of civilization.   The taker mentality is the mentality of ownership. It is the, “this is mine and not yours” energy which sits within our being. While initially human bands gave up their roaming ways and chose to farm in a single area because it produced more garneted food, the problem became one of environmental adjustments and imbedded mythologies around control of the seeds of production.

Scarcity is the key to all economic systems. You can’t charge for air, cause you can’t control it. Initially we could not charge for water, but now we can because it must be cleansed and transported. But the first scarce thing we could charge for was food. The seeds of production created farming. Hunting was given up for animal husbandry, or control of the animals. As we learned and grew our mythology we completely forgot any other way to live. Lost in the mire of imagination along the lineages of the mad the hunter-gatherers were cursed for their lack of culture and civilization.

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Nagual, a great word of confused content

The word is probably the most confusing one in the works of Carlos Casteneda. In some areas it is used in reference to Don Juan, his teacher. His teacher uses it in terms of the unknown or unknowable. There are roots which refer to shape shifting, there are links to teachers, and there are lines to a double.

The strange part about this word, is that it is all of these. In its ancient roots, Nagi, is a spirit or another form that the shaman/seers took when traveling in the “other world”. Thus a nagual as inherited by the nahuatl language became originally connected to a shape shifter or the animal spirits that surround our world – aka out there in the jungle. The shaman could through dreaming venture out into that world for information about plants, animals, hunting and suspecting danger. We see on the temples of Mexico me with jaguar heads or eagles or other numinous spirit forms. These are naguals.

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Barely Human

 

The Assemblage Point

The Assemblage Point

When we see the mold of man, the common assemblage point of humanity, we see a structure that looks like a complex onion, though don’t get caught in the allusion. Layers upon layers built up over a lifetime. Stabilizing beliefs, concepts, ideas and opinions. Most of these are not actually ones we choose but are chosen for us to fit in with this band of awareness known as life. But the universe is so much more interesting. And the fixation of our perceptions through layers of repetition, constrain our ability to actually see the universe for what it is…. Energy manifesting form. Knowledge, information, awareness criss-crossed with lines of vibrating strings and warping fields.

It is a brilliant system, this convoluted onion. It has sub circles and structures within and through its form that glow with great intensity. Often the sub structures are in direct conflict with other sub-structures, the whole more distractingly beautiful than the flawed pieces. We have, as beings of awareness, come to accept the inherent conflict between the parts, like religion versus science or sanctity of life with the death penalty. We have become so good at compartmentalizing these fixations that few human truly understand the deep stabilizing conflicts within the structure. And most subtle, humans have chosen to stand fixedly staring at the world through these conflicting structures and maintained a self-absorbed belief of our centrality in the schemata of things. There is no other like us that we have found… ain’t it grand!

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The New Seers and the Struggle for the Abstract

Centerfold of Silence

Centerfold of Silence

The old seers solved a serious problem of the ancient seers building societies that slowly unraveled the mysteries of the universe.  At the same time, they created monolithic agriculture and social structures that began a road to global human dominion and international conflict. Old tribal allegiances slowly evolved into nationalism and ethnic prejudices. Meanwhile specialization split the seers into two generalized groups.  While these two terms can actually be applied to ancient times, reaching back into pre-written history, they clarify the split what occurred during the process of empire building into two broad camps.  These two groups are creators and sustainers.

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Evolution and the Warrior’s Way

Anatomy of a Vortex

Anatomy of a Vortex

Ideas from evolution theory are beneficial for the Toltec warrior to consider.  This is by no means a definitive look at evolution nor is this a scientific approach, rather a thought provoking reflection on the fundamental ways that the earth works to sustain life and create awareness.

There are several ideas that dominate evolution.  The first, and often most popular thus greatly misunderstood is the predator-prey interrelationship.  This is mistaken for the survival of the fittest. But has deeper and broader impacts than just that, and is not the dominant drive of real evolution.  Second is cooperation, both social and biological interconnectedness.  This far greater drive in evolution brings about greater survival and development of form and awareness.  Third are random variations.  These provide for niches of adaptation to change.  And finally there is the pulse of the earth itself including but not limited to climactic changes, disasters and even seasons.

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