stepping out of the dream

Stepping out of the dream

Oil, 10k gold leaf on linen 50x 50cm 2016

by Kay Hare

This small 50 x 50cm oil painting was painted in response to a book I was reading called ‘Samadhi’ by Richard Shankman. Samadhi is an experience, although the more you understand the experience the more it cannot be explained in words or images. However, the closest I can get to understanding the state of being of Samadhi is through painting. 

I paint in oils because it has the longevity and life within it that allows a painting to be worked on for months. The other choice would be acrylic but this is a poor man’s medium, it dries immediately and cannot be mixed with other oils and colours. Oil paint allows a time of contemplation, a sort of meditation on the image, the texture and the opportunity to play and experiment. Some of the paintings take months to work on and I go back and too changing and touching up images, seeking the perfect alignment of colours, composition and texture. There is also a satisfaction in me that has to be allowed before I can finish a painting. 

Samadhi tries to articulate that our lives are but dreams. I have often wondered especially when I wake up from a dream, where I went? Which is the dream, the body I wake up in or the unconscious state I left behind? Samadhi suggests we forget our beds and bodies when we sleep but the watcher is still there, awake and aware. Just as in our waking day we forget many things. I don’t remember everything or every moment of yesterday, so where are these moments?  When I reflect on my life, huge chunks are missing, so did they happen or have I just forgot about them and where are they?

A quiet mind and meditation encourages Samadhi. Through consistent meditation, a state of mind appears where there is nothing. Looking past thoughts or learning to sink into the emptiness between thoughts takes you beyond the mind. Thoughts of who am I without memory? Where was I before I was born? This is the state of being that brings a deeper awareness of the self. It is the most important state to be in. Once this state of mind is grasped everything will come into alignment, not just material aspects of living but the bigger picture of existence. Worldly interests and desires fall away and dissolve realising that everything and everyone is in fact made up of memories and not real. 

Everything is a picture that comes from the mind, but this mind is an illusion and is not the self, not the real self, the self is a bit like the movies. When you watch a film you can change the pictures by changing the camera roll but where do the pictures come from? Looking beyond the pictures is a way to understand and start asking questions such as; who is watching my thoughts? and beyond that who is observing the watcher? Beyond the mind of thoughts and memories and pictures is something unexplainable and powerful, it is the state of being before birth and after death. It is a liberating thought and time spent dwelling in this awareness brings pure bliss. 

The painting -‘Stepping out of the dream’ is an image trying to catch the abstract, deep and motionless expanse of a state of mind that is beyond thought. Although this state of mind is descriptionless and cannot be explained it is very real, it is the only reality and according to Samadhi, it is life and the essence of who we are. Everything else is a private dream of our own making. 

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