Releasing David from the stone.
If you ever get the chance to see Michelangelo's David in Florence it's well worth a visit. In the Accademia, as you stand back from the statue to take it all in (you have it - from the base of it's plinth it stands 24 feet tall) there's a drop-jawed hush amongst the onlookers. Everyone instinctively whispers, even children.. as if no-one wants to disturb this feeling of presence that's here in this moment. Art has never really been my thing, but there's a timeless energy around 'great works' that's quite palpable and I love that. It's almost as though you are stood shoulder to shoulder with Michelangelo himself and feel what he feels. And, if you are willing to pause a while, I've found this presence can inspire you with the insights you need to get clear.
What struck me most was that this David wasn't at all the proud figure standing over the corpse of Goliath that we often see. Michelangelo's David has a serene, almost meditative pose. It reminded me that strength doesn't come from brute force or by clever scheming but from stillness, from innocence... from being defenselessly open to a power that can never be controlled, but can easily be expressed through any one of us when we relax and allow it to happen.
In moments like these, particularly if we really want to know, we can begin to grasp that reality is something far beyond what popular thinking or our intellect would have us believe. Words rarely take us here, but there's something about great art that can often help us make the leap. The problem with words is that when we use them to define truth we also feel a need to protect ourselves from all those words that are not true and, by doing so, we distance ourselves from the experience of Truth -- from the Presence of the one whose words we judge.
An hour or so down the road from 'David', in the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's 'Creation' speaks to me in a similar way about how the creative spark really gets ignited not when we particularly do anything, but when we allow ourselves to drop our persona and defenses so we can feel our connection with all things.. and in so doing we feel the flow and presence of our Whole Mind and the delight of allowing that to be expressed. It's in moments like these that you can get a sense that Reality is Who I am and Who You Are and that encompasses everything.. and that when this is known every 'mystery' suddenly makes perfect sense.
Sounds simple doesn't it? And it is... but the mind will create a million paths and practices rather than accept this. The prospect of realising that everything we previously held as true might be completely wrong strikes terror in the mind that has invested so much effort in controlling perception to maintain an illusion of a separate 'me' encased with a human body. But what easier or happier way to live than this? -- to know and express our whole mind by allowing ourselves to feel the connection between us. It is joy that ultimately overcomes fear, not practice or positive thinking.
A state of oneness and limitlessness are incomprehensible to our analytical mind because it's whole MO is based on believing the opposite - on maintaining a separate sense of self. We judge what is right and wrong, and then 'see' what is wrong as 'outside' - in others. Our being caught up in the world's thinking usually prevents us from seeing this dynamic at play within ourselves, so with this caveat in mind consider these questions carefully:
.. Do things become clearer as we struggle with difficult questions or in moments when we are happy.. perhaps out for a bike ride or playing with our kids?
.. Have you experienced the joy of perfect flow and creation as you attempt to organise your day productively and avoid procrastination.. or has it happened when you gave yourself permission to just play around with the things you enjoy?
.. Do you see more clearly as you debate the lack of truth you hear another speak or as you acknowledge the Love you find in their eyes?
Truth cannot be defined in terms of what is right and what is wrong because right and wrong are man made concepts. It's in allowing ourselves to open up to our whole mind that we get to see the whole picture. We start to see it in the pure thought and feeling we have when we reach out to each other, and in the presence of joy that releases us from a fearful concept of a separate, vulnerable self.
To know reality and know it from it's Source, we can take the hand of the one who is next to us, hold it firm and feel the flow of Love between us. We can choose to see beyond the blindness of their eyes to recognise the truth of this Presence of Love. And when we do we know there is no place where their Presence ends and ours starts and no point in time when this began or where it could end -- it just Is.. so ordinary and close it's almost universally overlooked. But it's the very same intelligent dynamic of Love that looks out through our eyes now and inspired Michelangelo to release David from that block of marble.
.. We venerate the likes of da Vinci, Mozart and Galileo and modern day 'stars' too who's work shows a flash of genius, like Michael Jordan and Steve Jobs. And yet each one of us has the exact same capacity to open ourselves to this presence.. and not just in our work. It really has no regard for circumstances or background or experience. It just delights in being expressed in whatever form we choose.
.. It doesn't have to be art, of course. The same thing could be said of a letter from a friend, or a software program that delights us or piece of engineering that make us pause. The defining principle seem to be an openness to this universal presence in the process of creation... and it is never lost or bounded by our concepts of time and space. I can often feel this when I read a blog post that has been written some time ago on the other side of the world. I'll read it then go brew a pot of tea and then have to come back and read it again to savour what it has say to me.
.. You may think there are those into whose eyes you would look and see fear. But fear is only ever a reflection of we think we are and therefore has no basis in truth. If you are willing to look past appearances to the reality beyond and, just for a moment, trust that you will experience what you choose to look upon, then I guarantee that thought would never trouble you again. And when truth is acknowledged as the presence of who we Are, then truth is seen everywhere.