Saturday, 10 December 2011


(This is a cross post from my art blog)
"Emotions 1/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003
So here's the scenario: you feel discouraged and disheartened, not knowing what to do next. It seems as if everything is against you and you are losing faith not only in other people but in yourself as well. You feel stuck and uncreative. Personally, I have been in this place many times. It's almost as if each time it gets worse, but this could be evolution in action. Challenges get tougher as you learn from life, but the rewards you reap are probably also greater. Thing is, life is naturally dynamic, and this means there are always ups and downs throughout the journey. I find it helpful to think of it as the inhalation and exhalation of life itself. When you're in a phase of inhalation, you will feel more introspective and maybe even depressed. The point is to not fight this, but go with the flow. If you resist it, you make it harder for yourself. 

"Emotions 2/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003

Artists are people who may feel these mood swings and roller coasters much more poignantly than others. They easily get distressed when they are in a low phase because it feels as if they cannot produce anything worthwhile. You easily feel victimized and blame others for all sorts of things. The darker aspects of your being might come out and you will be a less pleasant person to be around. The way that depth psychologists who specialize in creativity theories explain this is that you are more submerged in your subconscious mind and the reason you cannot produce quite so well is because mental material is in a state of brewing. Don't panic, this phase is necessary. If you look into yourself you will probably find that you're battling with problems and feeling conflicted about many things. There is often one major issue to deal with but it usually connects with other more minor issues. You need to let it all go on for as long as it needs to go on.
"Emotions 3/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003
Let this be. Don't panic, don't force yourself to be something you're not. At the most, be positive in the sense that you know this will pass, and that consciously dwelling on things is not necessarily of any use. I find talking to my husband useful, as it sometimes speeds things up a bit and makes me feel clearer, as well as helps him understand what's going on. But trying not to whine and winge too much is better for yourself and everyone around you. Keep in mind that clarity will come when the time is right.

"Emotions 4/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003
Then suddenly, one day, you have reached a major decision. I find time and time again that reaching a decision about what direction I want to take is the turning point. I don't think there are any real short cuts to this. This is usually when you come out of your shell and start acting. You will no doubt be more extroverted than normal, which will enable you to communicate with other people about your ideas and your direction. In fact, just chatting to people about whatever happens in your life can lead to unexpected trains of events. Very often things happen indirectly, in a mysterious way that is not really of your own making. You're just being open and actively putting yourself out there. You feel more in charge of your own life, but don't make the mistake of thinking that you can control it. Control is not the point, and there is a very important distinction between the two. I think one of the keys is that you stop putting your destiny in the wrong hands and decide what kind of people you want to interact with. These people will then be the right ones who facilitate your journey. It's always a two way street so you really must avoid manipulating or forcing other people to make things happen for you. Luckily at this time and age people have woken up to the advantages of networking so interaction with others can be quite fruitful. It's about a balance between being self-sufficient and acknowledging the need for other people. The truth and fluidity of being is a paradox somewhere between the two ways of being. 
"Emotions 5/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003
In my own life, I was deeply disappointed with people for a while after my relocation to a new country. It was a major issue for me, in fact it involved such deep feelings of despair that it took me over a year to get my act together. Then, after a lot of difficulties and exhaustion and feeling stuck, it was as if the wind changed. I had on the one hand reached a major decision that I wasn't going to put my destiny in the hands of "just anybody" and managed to rid myself of a lot of expectations on other people. On the other hand I also decided to embrace my chronic condition and decide to the represent disability arts. It was a major decision for me, as I had a lot of fear of being judged as wallowing in self-pity or being categorized as a loony. They were prejudices I had to overcome. It then turned out that I was now choosing a way of much less resistance than the alternative. I think it's important to remember that there are often alternatives, and when we cease to stubbornly hold onto a particular path, it turns out there is an easier one which is much better for you. This is my experience, anyway. 

"Emotions 6/6", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2003
During the "exhalation" phase you are probably rushed with adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones, and will probably be eager to produce and be generally active. I can't sustain this state of being for very long and so it's very important that I unwind regularly. The other day my pulse was up at a whopping 96 as I was running around renovating the house. I did transformational Qigong for 20 minutes and my pulse went down to 72. A while later I did some deep breathing/meditation for a short while in bed and the pulse went down to 64. I thought this was fascinating evidence of the power of meditation practices. 

It's interesting how inner decisions will lead to greater flow and how things just start to happen. It probably feels great. During this phase, it's useful to be outgoing and generous. I'm not saying it's a ride without any bumps. But if you follow your intuition - and this is of paramount importance - you will probably finally achieve some important goals on your journey. By goal I don't mean an end, but rather a milestone. It won't last, because it's not in the nature of reality to be stable. Embrace the changes that will happen in one way or another, and enjoy the rush while it lasts! 

Friday, 11 November 2011


Contemplating the Nature of Triumph

There is an incredible lot of "noise" in the world today and especially on the internet. People are being even more inundated with information and it asks from everyone to start making more conscious choices as to what they let into their lives. But the downside is that people are very fatigued and unable to focus on anything but themselves. I mean come on, how can anyone take Facebook and Twitter seriously? Yet a lot of people keep posting trite updates about their day and don't necessarily interact very much with others. Various new addictions such as hoarding faceless "friends" over the internet probably lull people into a sense of false security of sorts.

Those who get tired of all this mindlessness will have to re-evaulate their attitudes on a regular basis. Everyone has access to means of vindicting themselves through social media, and while this is truly democratic the downside is that those who have something valuable to say are drowning in all the noise. I am personally starting to feel there is no point in trying to make myself heard anymore. I used to think I had valuable insights to share with other people. Well, I don't know if this is anylonger true and it makes me feel somewhat lost. I have to find meaning in my life in some other way. Perhaps realizing how unimportant you are is a spiritual lesson. At least you can make it into one, I suppose...

Me and my partner went through some collections of spiritual artwork the other day. I wanted to see what is out there, and although the person who had made this collection didn't give any credentials, it was still interesting to see. What struck us was how the same ideas are being rotated over and over... It gets incredibly boring to see all these images of  a potentially enlightened person with all the chakras all lit up like a Christmas tree, intersecting triangles that express energy, and mandalas with the tree of life, the sun and the moon, the seasons... angels and fairies and sickly sweet children holding butterflies in their hands. Images of heaven that look like cold and barren cityscapes in pink. Yes, all of it is sickly sweet or just downright childish. But the main question is, can this nonetheless be representative of anything real and meaningful? Why do some people allegedly find this imagery inspiring? My feeling is that it's only representative of people's very limited and uncreative idea of true happiness and joy. It has nothing to do with the real world either here on this planet or anywhere else in any other dimension. I used to think, hm well maybe reality does look like that somewhere in the universe, in some dimension that is not as heavily dualist as this one. But when I saw this vast collection of images, all I saw were rosy daydreams, and I cannot for the life of me believe that such visions of reality are based in a real experience. 

There is a problem in judging other people's experiences if we consider that people bring their inner imagery along with them wherever they go, even into the hereafter. The New Age has tried to use the idea that each and everyone creates their own reality as an argument for the necessity of taking responsibility for what you think and feel. Yet there is clearly also a collective reality, which everyone agrees upon. My conclusion has been that both viewpoints are true. I go by the idea that paradox is always at the base of any statement about reality. I feel that if this is valid on Earth, it's probably also valid in other dimensions. People may take along their imagery when they move away from their daily reality but I'm sure they will also be subjected to some form of objective reality that exists as a collective agreement of sorts. At least if they own some openness that allows them to see it...

So are all these sickly sweet images also part of some collective agreement on what reality "should" be in order for people to be happier? Well, I would say it's a collective agreement about the illusion of happiness. The image of a happy child holding a butterfly is maybe cute, but it can only exist as a flickering moment in time. The problem with images is that they make people believe that something can exist for a long period of time. It's almost as if people were trying to exhort a better reality by creating all this sweet imagery. To me it smacks of magical thinking. In other words, the more we enduce loveliness in pictures, the more it will enter into our lives. Whereas this may not be entirely false, I don't feel that such simplistic views of reality truly serve anyone in the long run. It should be clear by now, after so many years of the presence of New Age thought, that you cannot push negativity aside by focusing only on the positive. This leads to problems with the suppression of "the other side" of reality, i.e. that which is negative (and this will of course be individual to everyone). 

But lastly, I want to bring in a word about bad art. Yes, all this so-called spiritual imagery is derivative and uncreative. It lacks in the personality and is therefore artistically speaking pretty much dead art. People who indulge in this kind of thinking are repeating spiritual symbols like parrots. It is the opposite of the true ascension of spirit. How can such art be stimulating to our spirit and soul? I would implore people to wake up from such extreme escapism... it's not doing anyone any good.

Artwork: "Contemplating the Nature of Triumph", copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2011 - I sometimes like to express strength and positive emotion in my artwork but usually there is an underlying paradox of sorts. I hope however that the pieces that are more overtly positive are never trite.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


What?! You may say. Well, this motto came up when I googled myself a couple of times. I must have added that to an eco-site. But in fact, when I think of it, it really sums up what I believe in. First, there is a double morale regarding plastic. Here in the UK, they are trying to get people to buy less plastic bags. Yes I know they are usually used only once and then thrown away, so I am all for it. However, when I try and find clothes in clothes shops I find that at least 99 percent of the stuff in there is made of polyester or acrylic, and in some cases of viscose. It means that people are buying garments made of plastic and how is this supposed to be helping the world?? It's very clear that women buy the latest in fashion, use it once or twice because it's cheap, then recycle it so it ends up somewhere in Africa or with the poor in their own country. God knows where they end up after that - as some form of landfill no doubt, probably where it's definitely not supposed to be. 

It totally pisses me off that you can only wear crap clothes if you're poor. You have to be incredibly rich to be able to buy decent materials. In fact, it's unbelievable that I have to fight for my right to wear proper clothes! And on top of this there are the global concerns of sustainability. Plastic can never be a sustainable material unless you use it were it really serves a function for a long time to come. 

I think the idea of wearing plastic close to your most sensitive body parts is horrendous. First, you are dealing with a very bad energy. Basically, things made of oil tend to be this way. It hinders the flow of your own bodily energies. Secondly, if you're in fire, the plastic clothes will melt in a split second and stick to your skin forever. Not only are you creating more work for the plastic surgeons, but you are also creating the most horrible damage to yourself. Incidentally, cotton takes a long time to burn down. And as I said before, what happens to your underwear when you toss them? Surely you don't recycle them for the purpose of charity!

For god's sake, if you want to make a difference, start with yourself! Start with the thing that is the closest to you. I am not really a typical eco-warrior, because I don't see things in black and white most of the time. I think that the best I can do is to take care of my share, I don't have to carry every body else's responsibility on my shoulders. Both Martin and I are (at least we think we are!) quite level-headed about the pros and cons of various choices we make as consumers in a Western society. But I do have my gripes and polyester clothes is definitely one of them!! I'm in fact so sensitive to plastic that I can tell how big a percentage of polyester is in a material just by touching it and feeling how strong the electric currents are (and yes I am not kidding!). I want to add that viscose is not a great alternative, while it is better because it's made of cellulose, it's fabricated in a really toxic environment, and it doesn't feel good to my touch either. I can only wear it if I wear cotton underneath. 

I tolerate up to 20 % polyester in a garment, and in fact I don't really have much of a choice since there is polyester even in woollen clothes. I admit that in the cases of very low percentage it does improve on the durability, so it may be warranted.

So, start with your most intimate choices and decide how you can better the world from that point of view. That is my five cents!

Artwork: Abstract digital photograph by author, all rights reserved

Thursday, 22 September 2011


Giorgio De Chirico: The Tower, 1913
This is one of my absolute favourite paintings.
I love the foreboding green sky, though
it's all really bathing in a warm light, and it's not cold or frightening,
 in spite of oozing solitude.
There is comfort in the silence, you can almost hear the figures whispering...
or just silently contemplating something on their own, yet in harmony with each other.
And the architecture provides a sense of security,
as it rightly ought to do.
Metaphysical painting was invented by Giorgio De Chirico in Florence 1907. It actually has nothing directly to do with the otherworldly, but rather a sense of mystery behind the objects of our day-to-day existence. I have been at a loss for a while, not feeling particularly spiritual in any way whatsoever. My days are full, thanks to my husband various things are going on a lot of the time, and apart from that I am struggling with the relentless insomnia and the fact that medicines have stopped working for me. It is really all consuming. Apart from this, I am thinking a lot about art. What is it to me?

Yet there are two things regarding my spirituality that are quite obvious to me. One is that my ego is struggling with the fact that I am less recognized as an artist than I used to be back in Finland. It lead me to say to my husband, "No one seems to realize how famous I really am" - and of course he burst out laughing and added it to the sayings of Vivi-Mari. I'm embarrassed! I also fear that I will never leave that mark on the world that I always hoped to, that mark that was supposed to justify my sufferings in this life. It's an awkward conflict and I naturally hope to see it resolved at some point in the near future. I am now middle-aged and hence all too aware of the shortness of life... of the little that is left.

Giorgio De Chirico: The Secret of Love 1914
Renee Magritte: The Secret Life 1928
Max Ernst: The Sea 1924
The other issue is more positive. Well, let's start with the fact that I want to make art about life here on Earth, and so I feel that I will fall out of favour from anyone who feels that the purpose of art is to point at higher levels of consciousness. The integral community is really promoting art these days as well as debating what exactly comprises integral art. It's worth having a look at Because we are speaking of integral art rather than mystical art, I venture to say that it is an art that has a broader spectrum of interest. In all honesty I find a lot of the art presented in their gallery emotionally cold, analytical - and male. Whether talking about chronic illness and similar issues in order to raise awareness of the challenges of the physical reality could be seen as integral remains to be seen, but of course I think it can be the expression of a very profound vision with deeply spiritual implications and it should encompass our human emotions. It's what I feel called to do, in spite of the fact that it is a form of risk taking for me. Not only is it very self-disclosing and this I have trouble with these days, but it may also simply not work out very well and it may gain no audience whatsoever. There's my ego all fear struck again...In fact, I have to concede that I am not necessarily any more important than anyone else, shock horror! 
Giorgio De Chirico: The Tower, 1913
I love the way the shadows are mysterious and comforting
rather than scary or in any way negative.

Anyway, the other issue is that of the metaphysical point of view, which has recently become much clearer to me than ever before. For one, I started to read the exhibition catalogue about Giorgio De Chirico and the artists he influenced (A Look Into The Invisible). I am still digging through some rather tedious scientific article in the beginning but believe there will be revelations to be had if I persevere. Can you not hear the silence and life of the objects above? And note that they are all about the sphere and the circle, perhaps meant to symbolize unity, harmony; in a sense the most perfect of forms? Perfection can be found in the most unlikely of places. Yet I prefer when it is imbued with human emotion; compassion, connection and warmth. The most abstract one is the one by Max Ernst, and while it remains intriguing to me, it also keeps me the coldest.

Can symbolism exist without a reference to the physical world? We tend to interpret the world symbolically, language being a basic form of symbolism. Yet how someone understands symbolism as a language and puts deeply meaningful symbols together to create bigger wholes is an art all its own, something not everyone is capable of. I think abstract art can only go so far in referring to something  universal and deeply meaningful in a humanistic sense.

At the same time, I started photographing objects in my studio. Since that worked out quite well, I continued by taking photos of other parts of the house. In the end, I had a portfolio which was good enough to send off to a journalist who blogs about interior decoration, despite the fact that our house is very far from being completed. I've just always wanted to be able to do this and ended up doing it in spite of all the "buts". I guess this is how you proceed in life: you don't wait for things to be perfect before you act. You just do what you feel driven to do in spite of all the imperfections. This is largely how I lead my life as someone with a chronic illness. I try my best to make the most of what I have. Working around things is my speciality...

Martin had renovated the bedroom walls, and painted them a yellow ochre,
 some of them have a saffron coloured glaze.
It's reminiscent of a Buddhist temple.
This is the notion I worked with, introducing all my red
and turqoise fabrics,
as well as more black and gold.
The floorboards will eventually be painted black.

Here are some of the close ups that give me a deeper sense of the mystery of objects and how they relate to each other (there are more in previous posts).

Photographing objects (I am calling the series "The Secret Lives of Objects") gave me this very strong sense of the being-in-the world of all these physical things and their interrelationships. This probably occurred because the objects were highlighted and isolated from their expanded environment. Suddenly I was able to grasp what Giorgio De Chirico was going on about. There is a mystery to be experienced right here, even in your very own home. There is a spirituality to be sensed where you least think to look for it. Everywhere is mystery. Colours and forms interact in harmony or disharmony, depending on the creator. It all reflects your soul, even the arrangements of fruit (often round!) in a fruit bowl. 

Friday, 12 August 2011


I've been feeling quite devoid of ideas regarding spiritual evolution. At times I've been feeling like a spiritual failure. I feel stupid, unevolved, undisciplined and highly flawed... who am to have any opinions on spiritual matters? Was it all just a dream that I was following all those years, a desire for deeper fulfilment that just isn't possible in this life? Perhaps letting go of the strife is the answer, but there's a fine line between letting go of non-constructive ideals while maybe starting to live life more authentically,  and just giving up. All the bits about being human are poignant and often quite humiliating. The "double vision" is still there though, which means that life as such with all its worldly concerns is being attended to, while at the back of the mind are thoughts about what is important from a spiritual point of view. I guess I keep coming back to my old friend compassion, one of those spiritual ideals that always resonated strongly with me, but one that also seems increasingly difficult to attain. I'm sure the lack of fear of rejection and anger about the way others treat you would remove a lot of anxiety and neuroticism. 

Well, sometimes I need to get all the frustration about other people out, yet going on and on about other people's flaws and unfair treatment isn't getting you anywhere. That's just amplifying neuroticism and negative feelings of all sorts. Let's just be practical about it. This may sound judgemental but after a reasonably long life of trying to connect with people I have realized that people are very preoccupied with themselves and it's not very often that they have innate empathy or a desire to develop this kind of trait. Numerous times I have looked at myself and wondered what I'm doing wrong or whether I'm projecting some lack of empathy myself, thus getting the same back. Other times I catch myself reaching out spontaneously, with a really heartfelt wish to give, and it tells me this is how I'd really like to be but I am often holding back because of bad experience. I'm not sure that there are any other reasons than that people are the way they are in this time and space. Someone might say, well it depends who's looking. That's true, but there is also an objective reality that we can get plenty of clues about if we look around. You have to accept that before you can change the way you see things subjectively, otherwise it'll just be a case of wearing rosy glasses. 

Perhaps there are things in ourselves that really aren't quite in place. Perhaps, for instance, we aren't open enough. Radiant people attract others, that's for sure. But we can't all be radiant, or radiant at all times; it can be just a bit too much to ask of ourselves during times of illness and stress. There's no point trying to force it, though keeping the idea of who we'd really like to be at the back of our minds is probably helpful in the long run. Be gentle with yourself; this is the starting point of a compassionate attitude. It can also be the way towards having a healthier body. This attitude includes accepting that you aren't always at your best or even doing the best that you can. In the end "the best that you can" is just a relative ideal among many others - sometimes useful, but sometimes harmful too because it can create stress. Vulnerability, which makes us hold back, is one of those things that can only be overcome gradually, and very gently. We are humans in a very human world, and it's natural to expect a bit of reciprocation. To give and give before we have become free of any expectations is very heavy. We need to find a balance, a way of managing our energies before we are ready to release them freely. That's my guess anyway. Progress is slow at times. 

Illness lowers the tolerance levels so much, not just physically, so it's much harder to have a positive attitude towards others. At the Chronic Babe Forum I see a lot of people who are "almost conscientious to a fault" as one of the girls expressed it. So much good intention and also a lot of frustration because of it - no wonder so many of these people get ill. In the end we just have to try and puzzle all these nonsensical bits together and see how we can best express ourselves in spite of the adversities. Avoiding the bitterness-trap with all its expectations of others could be a major life challenge, perhaps even a reason things are the way they are and people treat us the way they do.

Artwork: Digital Photograph, "Beckoning Shadows III", by author, all rights reserved 2011

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


I'm sure many of us question our spiritual path at times. In spite of much effort there isn't always that much to show for. Or so it seems. In times of doubt, I've had to go back in time to the moment I had my own personal "revelation"which lead to a lot of research into esotericism and soul searching. The revelation was just an insight, nothing very spectacular. I recently watched some episodes of the iconic TV series "Kung Fu" from 1973, the one that made me cry buckets because the perfect use of the body and the disciplined mind in synergy was something that I really wanted for myself. I wanted to do Kung Fu but knew my back problem wouldn't allow it. Well, in the end I did it anyway; I did a first part and received the first belt. It was incredibly hard work, more than I was physically capable of, and it cured my desire for more. I got it out of my system - fortunately, because I wouldn't have been able to go onto the next stage because of my back problem being more obviously in the way. 

So now I have revisited the TV series, but this time it just made me sad that my life is far removed from the ideals presented there. Rocked by emotions, temper and judgmental thought, and at the mercy of physical ailments I am... while desperately trying to raise the level of chi and trying to fit in some creative work into the day, I become aware of all the strife involved in the pursuits of a better life or way of being. Illness can force you onto your knees, as managing yourself and your attitudes becomes oh so much harder. It's easy enough to be positive and generous towards life and other beings when you're well and strong. Doubt about yourself and others creep in more easily when you're weak and tired. There are many challenges to face on a daily basis. There is very little time for all the things I should do in order to keep fit, to balance the energy level, to raise chi and to purify the mind through meditation practice, work with emotions, mindfulness, and simply talking sense to myself. Of course, if you believe in reincarnation then you will have faith that this was meant to be, that these collectively hard times are helping you grow as well. As someone recently comforted me, it isn't the weakest students that get the hardest lessons.. 

Ironically, the challenges are sometimes quite the opposite to what we think they are supposed to be. For instance, positive thinking is not an end in itself, because that would just be a way of denying the negative that is intrinsic to a polarised attitude. You can't become an unconditionally loving person just by willing it, because you will be a fake and you will simply be suppressing negative tendencies. Sooner or later it will become apparent. The process is much trickier, as you must gradually work your way through the inner bullshit and find a way out of false or fake attitudes. Meanwhile, trying not to be so hard on yourself as you recognize that a judgemental attitude towards the self is just as detrimental as it is towards others. Does this sound familiar? Then you are no doubt a spiritual person. You're such a person because you care about these things. You want to get it right. And you may not even know exactly why. Perhaps you had some deep mystical experience that helped you in this direction, maybe not. It's not important. What matters is the way you feel about the purpose of your life when you are being really honest.

There are people who engage in spiritual or religious activities for a while but then turn their back on them in disillusionment. If you don't feel the calling of spirit that persists through adversity and set backs, then it's not your path. Sometimes I wish I could turn my back on all of it, as it creates much trouble in my life! Sometimes I think I have actually done just that, because momentarily I don't feel the compulsion to bring spirituality into something I'm doing or working on. I wonder though if maybe it's a healthy way of being, as not only do you need to give yourself some respite, but you also need to take stock of life on a practical level and all the elements that make up our day-to-day reality. Sometimes a bit of "normality" can be very restful. But it may also allow you to look at spirituality in a new light, and discover how it's intrinsic to all these elements and that your compulsive attention is not always required. If spirituality is your path, the spirituality will be there regardless of your efforts to engage in it. I think in life we need a balance between ordinary life and the grand spiritual ideals, otherwise we might become obsessed and out of sync with the way things really are. The fact that someone is doing meditation three hours a day is no guarantee that their life is any more spiritual than that of someone who just lives life mindfully regardless what comes along. 

Then, to finish this off, there is the issue of mystical experiences. Remember, that as long as they have a beginning and an end, they are part of illusory reality. Some people have them, others don't. I don't think that is a measure of spiritual success. I think it just depends what kind of life you have chosen to live (since I believe there is a path of destiny). I know that people who seem genuinely psychic can seem intimidating, as if they have gained some great spiritual wisdom that you are not ready for yet. But this is just an assumption on your part, and may not be true at all. Being psychic can be just as much a challenge to deal with as anything else in life. It's easy enough to beat yourself up because you don't have them like some other people, or allow yourself to feel inferior. Well, maybe that's your spiritual challenge! 

Artwork: "Forgotten Heart", digital abstract photograph, all rights reserved 2011.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Many of those who are my age group will remember the 1980s and 1990s as a time of exciting spiritual discoveries and the testing of many different belief systems. The very definition of the New Age is its eclecticism, the famous spiritual smorgasbord from which the individual could choose what they felt attracted to and create their very own unique world view. Mixing and matching was in. Though I never confessed to the New Age or any other form of religious or spiritual beliefs with ardour and conviction, I guess in a sense I had one foot in the New Age field and one in the Transpersonal or Integral field (as the Wilberian system of thought is called today). While the New Agey way of being is still inspiring people to become spiritual seekers, it does seem to me that the heydays are over. We threw a great party but now is time to sober up!

Of course, as always this a subjective point of view. But I've been thinking how there was a sort of spiritual wave movement and how it seems to have started to settle. Eclecticism just doesn't seem to have the allure it once had. You can only mix and match if you believe the systems you're referring to are relevant to your life in some way. Being a spiritual omnivore looks a bit wishy washy and undecided to me. People running around attending a lot of spiritual seminars all the time are often just spending time, distracting themselves rather than addressing the real issues of their lives. It seems important to me that people don't get hooked on holding onto old ideals but embrace new ways of being, as well as decide on who they really are and where that could take them in the future. What kind of person do you want to be rather than what kind of different person do you want to be? Perhaps this should take precedence to the belief system; maybe it's more important than concerning oneself with what kind of spirituality is defining one's identity.

I settled on a world view after ten years of research, and it hasn't changed much since then. Practical life took over and dealing with emotions became the focal point. Every now and again I revisit theories or here say about the current spiritual situation, mostly by checking things out on the internet. What I've noticed in myself is that there are two fundamental problems. On the one hand I don't feel a lot of excitement about either new age ideas or integral theory - most of the time I'm yawning or even feeling annoyed and only rarely do I sense a spark of interest as in "wow this I can apply to my life!". Most things just seem to complicated and/or hypothetical. On the other hand there's an inner conflict which is tearing me apart. I don't seem to be able to reconcile an expression of spirituality with the less spiritual side of life. I feel like a chameleon, trying too hard to adapt to different groups of people and ideologies. This is very obvious when I write for a general public, or make artwork. I feel uncomfortable about being overtly spiritual and talking in spiritual terms. I've been beating myself up over this, thinking that I'm just not focused enough... not spiritual enough... etc... but maybe it's really a sign that I should pay attention to?

Ken Wilber (check out the loft series at has been talking a lot about bringing a contemporary form of spirituality into every day life as most of what religion used to represent has become redundant. In general, religions represent exoteric ways of approaching spirituality - it's mostly a dualist world view with a God who is separated from the individual.  Rituals and ceremonies pay an important role in this kind of thinking. Modern spirituality, on the other hand, is mainly esoteric and inwards looking. God is not seen as separate from the creation, on the contrary human beings are co-creators of this reality. In other words, we are not subject to some divine rule but intrinsically part of the divine and all that is. I agree with the idea that we are one with everything and more powerful than what meets the eye. But I also think that at this point in historic time there is a limit to how creative an individual can be, and that there's a danger in starting to force oneself to become more than what is humanly possible at any given moment. This is mainly where opinions differ among spiritual people. I have been fretting over this dilemma for the past ten years as I have felt pressure to perform better than I really feel able to. So how can I get away from all these inner conflicts?

Well, perhaps the solution is to become more centred in who one really is in this moment, in this place, in this body, at this point in historic time. It's almost as if spirituality has become as uncomfortable as religion. For different reasons, yes. But maybe it's time to move on and become less focused on the whole issue of spirituality. What I sense is that spirituality can easily keep us in a dualist position even when the belief system is about oneness. Whether it be fairies, angels and crystals (the New age) or levels, stages and quadrants (Integral Theory), it can really all just become distractions and a form of entertainment. In the end, the reality of life as such is usually a different matter altogether. I want to uncover my authentic self as it manifests itself in this time and place. Do I really need any paraphernalia or pretty theories to do so? To me, the answer is no. It's surprising how difficult it is to see yourself exactly as you are right now, without all the striving and manifesting to become happier and more spiritual. This has been said before, for instance Chogyam Trungpa talked about "spiritual materialism" already a long time ago. It was all about people who are taking on the spiritual cloak and pursuing spiritual ideals much as people pursue material possessions.

Spirituality as much as religion and other forms of belief systems (ecological thinking being a case in point) tend to become another set of rules with a great deal of restrictions attached to them. "Can't do this, can't do that..." - well this is not really embracing "all that is" and reaching for the experience of real oneness. Instead, dualism and polarisation really kicks in. Very often the restrictions don't even make a lot of sense, they exist because they seem to be a way towards greater approval by some authority or another, or because they make people feel secure. As soon as you think, "that person is not as spiritual as me", you're deep in trouble. You have drawn a clear dividing line between yourself and someone else. The tendency of the mind to polarise is, per se, a normal thing, but when it's done in the name of spirituality it becomes a very false attitude indeed.

My point, however, is that there comes a time when even spirituality itself becomes redundant. Instead, this could at least for some of us be a time to sink into ourselves and exist as exactly the person we happen to be in this particular life. Perhaps you're someone who will ascend in 2012. Perhaps you're not. Accepting that you don't know which you are could be quite liberating. Perhaps there is no ascension at all or maybe it's very different from here say. You know some things of a spiritual nature with great certainty but equally, you don't know many things with certainty. Liberate yourself and accept that this is true to who you are right now. What is valid and relevant, right now? Quietly discard the old and accept the new. It could be a greater connection to life through the heart, after all, an evolutionary step towards greater heart centredness has been predicted. If this is true it means that it's there for us to receive if we are able to open up to it. Yet my point is that we cannot open up to the simplicity of the heart's beauty if we keep distracting ourselves with shiny things and grand ideals. Do what you feel you need to do (e.g. keep the body/mind in sync) and stop worrying about whether it's spiritual or not! I think this kind of respect for the self is the true essence of self-love.

Artwork: An old postcard from the 1980s. This is how I feel a lot of the time!

Monday, 18 July 2011


I asked my husband to help me do some searches on the internet because he's so good at coming up with search terms. I have been feeling as if it's very hard to breathe, and in general felt pretty under the weather for no apparent reason. Well, one reason might have been some issues and worries about my mother but the feeling continued and didn't seem to make sense. Maybe it's just the weather and low pressure (literally feeling "under the weather", ha!). Perhaps this climate isn't very good for me. I was curious though whether there was anything going on cosmically speaking. We looked up "cosmic weather reports" and such, but could find nothing of any interest. At best there were explanations about the current situation of global economy and how it's all still a great mess. Apparently a few days there was a full moon and a constellation that might have brought out some emotional issues. 

We then looked up some lightworkers to see if there are any signs of life and if there are thoughts about what's going on from an esoteric point of view. Well in fact the big site was not available (it seemed to have disappeared but it could have something to do with our server). We figured they had all ascended! Oops. There are many very pink (ok read gaudy and utterly tasteless) sites out there that are basically just repeating the same old, and nobody seems to have anything very new and thought provoking to say. "The ascension symptoms" is still the same old list of issues and as my husband said, it really just sounds like being human! From my point of view, many of them sound a lot like fibromyalgia which of course is increasingly common within the female population. Some of the issues are of a more spiritual nature but I'm sure that people who have a lot of mystical experiences are quite aware of what they are and don't need to read about them from a list... Anyhow, maybe it's a good thing if there aren't too many predictions out there (or maybe I just didn't find them) - perhaps the truly evolved are hesitant to say things that could be misinterpreted.

The whole idea of putting labels on things so that people fit into categories seems very perilous to me. Many people so want to feel special and part of an elite. Very often people are not what you think they are anyway, looks may be very deceiving! People have a frame of reference for deciding on what kind of level others are, and it may be very false. In reality we are probably all here for very different reasons.

And seriously - too many times I have already heard people who claim to be psychic say oops, things didn't go according to plan because not enough people were ready for spiritual changes. It doesn't take much to see that most people are still in a state of oblivion and not very interested in self-development, struggling to survive in times of great global imbalance. It takes time, here on Earth, for collective evolution to take place. I don't know how much time but I am not surprised that profound changes aren't instant. At them moment, collective insanity is definitely increasing, but I certainly hope we have reached the peak!

It occurred to me, that the fact that I have no clear feelings on the subject of ascension is maybe that there aren't any to be had. I do think there's an acceleration of evolution on the collective and individual levels, and I am quite certain of this. In fact all you need to do is just look around and see how society is speeding up, and this is obviously not isolated from the individual psyche. It seems dangerous though to read too much into these things, to hypnotize yourself into believing in hypotheses. To be centred in yourself or at least attempt to be, is the best way to be in my opinion. Flirtation with religious concepts often takes people away from who they really are, something which needs to be acknowledged and integrated before they can expect significant spiritual changes. I am not saying there aren't people who aren't very evolved, but don't ever make the mistake of comparing yourself with them. We are not here to compete, in fact we need to get out of the habit of comparing ourselves with others. Note what's going on and decide what sort of person you really want to be. Then keep this in mind at all times. Avoid putting on the role of the happy happy lovey dovey person if this is not who you are naturally. Too many people who are interested in self-development simply take on a new persona and think they have solved their problems - it's a kind of spiritual role playing and highly deceptive.

Positive thinking is an anti-thesis to negative thinking and will therefore not remove negativity. It's a polarised way of thinking that keeps you stuck in dualistic behavioural patterns. You cannot force these things, only gently acknowledge your negativities and see what you can do to break the patterns. One important thing is to give up some of the control we are so used to exercising, but doing it in the right kind of way! You don't just decide to rely on the universe providing you with everything... we do need to be proactive and responsible, not passive. We need syntheses and ways of integrating life as it is while gently working towards greater emotional openness. Gently, I say - myself and others (anecdotally anyway) have sometimes worked with ourselves so much we have become too open too soon, and the heart energies have gone all wiry and in some cases even worse things have occurred. One becomes vulnerable but not resilient - herein lies a danger. To dare open up again from having been too open to attack becomes the focus of some new inner work.

I find it deeply disturbing that the ascension ideas have driven a wedge between "the evolved" people and the ones who are not. Again I'm not saying everyone sees it this way but I think a lot of the talk out there can reinforce elitist thinking in immature individuals. We also have to remember that there are many, many chronically ill people who really have a hard time keeping up with everything. Their task is sometimes immense, and should be respected rather than spit on as the result of their own inability to create a better reality. At best it can be a noble task.

It's a bit telling when someone posts an advert about a book about Kuthumi in the comments section on my blog. From Wikipedia: "According to Theosophy, Kuthumi is considered to be one of the members of the Spiritual Hierarchy called the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom which oversees the development of the human race on this planet to higher levels of consciousness. In the Ascended Master Teachings, Kuthumi is one of the Ascended Masters who collectively make up the Great White Brotherhood."  I do take objection to the fact that someone posts adverts on my blog - it is not a very evolved way of acting. As for ascended masters and all that... well believe in it if you feel it's important to you, but don't feel obliged to. You may have a different sort of spiritual life that doesn't include beings from other dimensions. You are, after all, on Earth! There's plenty enough to focus on right here... beware of getting distracted by shiny things and what appear to be elevated ideals of other dimensions!

I do think that some people have very heavy and difficult lessons to learn, and it may be the greatest purpose of their current existence. It can be very disconcerting not to know for sure why you feel a lot of things that appear not even to come from yourself. On the other hand, you may have surges of self-developmental reactions that are peculiar to yourself at any given time. Not dwelling on this too much but trying to do something creative with it would be my advice. For what it's worth! Also, there are people who are very serious about spiritual evolution and who are acting it out in the world rather than outside of it, not afraid of including all aspects of being into their belief systems.

Artwork: Digital photograph, "Things Were Not Quite What They Seemed To Be", copyright 2011