Art & symbols – a language of the inner life and psyche

Art has been to me a language rich with symbols that helps me understand what’s happening on a very sub- or un-conscious level. Truly, we live life on another level, hidden from the external world where we eat, sleep, work and do the things we call living. It’s when we finally take to the zafu that we encounter this wonderful world within, the abode of our psyche, a world within a world.

Art & Symbols - A language of the inner life and psyche

My art is a symbolic language for my inner life and psyche

Me at my exhibition in Perth

I have done most of my more esoteric artwork during periods of intense change in my life and it has been the symbols that helped me make sense of what was going on inside. Thankfully, the art came very easily. All the drawings and paintings that you see in the video on my homepage began life in my mind’s eye and then all I had to do was pick up my pen or brush and the rest will just flow. My drawing lecturer, when I was studying in Perth, used to say I had magic fingers.

You see, drawing was my choice of elective throughout my undergraduate studies then and each week I would drive down to her classes at the Churchlands campus. What was a mere sketch before afternoon tea break would magically become something else altogether by the time we reached the end of the day at 5 p.m. Each time I submitted my portfolio for semestrial assessment, inevitably it would be full of drawings that were rather other-wordly and she was terribly spot-on in her comments that I was in reality documenting my inner life.

This was me at my first exhibition in Perth, standing next to my submission, again a painting/drawing that began first in my mind’s eye. I didn’t know it then but this painting had a huge impact on someone in my QiGong group. In this painting is a golden key and when this person saw it, she said, “This is what my husband was looking for!” Turned out that on his deathbed he kept asking for the ‘key’ but no one understood what key he was talking about! He died without ever getting the ‘key’. And because this picture obviously helped her come to terms with her grief and regret, I therefore gifted her with it. With the proviso to pass it on to someone else who in turn might benefit from it. To me a painting is just that, something that is of use to someone else. Plus I know for a fact that I could always make another one.

Art and symbols

Art has really allowed me to tap into my inner self where I could access information on a different level altogether. This is why symbols are very important to me. It is a language for the inner world. I’ve had other esoteric encounters. Once I brought a large painting to a Melchizedek workshop where we were participating in energy healing. The lady of the house who kindly hosted the workshop took one look and said, “This painting has Buddha energy.” It’s not surprising that she picked that up given the symbols I had in the painting. She is a psychic and an ardent devotee of Sai Baba-ji who has experienced the amazing phenomenon of vibhuti, that is, ash just appeared on her palm one day. Baba-ji is well known for blessing his devotees that way. Now, I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist but yes, I do admire the beauty in Buddha’s teachings. If anything, the Buddha didn’t call himself a Buddhist either. But my point is symbols carry energy of their own. This is something that’s truly astounding.

Symbols have energy and therefore power

Let me share another story of symbols and their power. Once I went to learn Karuna Reiki on top of what I already had, a master level in Usui Reiki. I was curious to know if it’s any different. During those lessons I began to share with the teacher symbols I saw in my dreams or mind’s eye during meditation. This teacher was both the Peruvian ambassador posted to Singapore and a member of the Masonic Lodge here. I began to suspect something fishy when he kept asking me to ‘supply’ him with more symbols. When I asked for his reason, he simply said, ‘because they have found them to be powerful.’ and he wouldn’t tell me more. I didn’t feel easy about the whole thing so I stopped supplying. I had visions of black worship and whatever dark stuff they do whether it was real or not. Unfortunately, his attitude towards me changed after that. And I learned a very valuable lesson. I shouldn’t go around sharing these symbols with just anyone. They are given to me for a reason and my business is to discern why and how I can use them for the greater good.

Talisman, amulet, and sigil

As a Reiki master who has also learnt Pranic Healing and the Melchizedek Method, I have personal experience as to the healing powers of symbols especially at the deeper level. It’s also the same with talismans and sigils. You know, those squiggly lines that a Chinese temple medium would draw on a piece of yellow paper with ink and a calligraphy brush to provide protection, to heal, or to change your destiny. As a child, I remember being hauled to the medium ever so often because of my stubborn asthma and I had to drink a glass of ‘ash water’ at each visit – water added to the ash after they burn that same piece of talisman at the bottom of the glass. How did that taste? Well, sort of burn-ish. I also had to drink the stuff each time the school exams came round because my dear old mother would seek out a talisman for me to have good scores. Whether it’s the talisman or not, I am thankful for the As and Bs but then my astrological chart also tells me I am intelligent because of Venus in Mercury or something to that effect. So….

What do you make of this

Artwork done for the Canossian sisters

Then there is is this awesome project I did for the Canossian sisters. It’s huge and it sits inside an alcove that measures almost 12 feet high and at least 5 feet across. It’s in the assembly hall of the Children’s Home. I was a volunteer teaching English and Art to the kids there and one day, the Sister-in-charge approached me to help fill in the two alcoves one on each side of a large stage. I duly submitted my design which consisted of symbols associated with Christ. Well, a little more esoteric than most Christian symbols because of the (have you guessed it yet?) the Rosicrucian rose just above the ram but the Sister had no issue with that! I also decided on using Fibonacci’s Numbers to create a generation tree that starts with the founder and then spreads out to include all the sisters in succession. With their pictures framed in wooden circles, these formed the leaves of the genealogy tree.

The more astounding thing was that all I had was a paint roller and brush on a long stick to work with because of the height of the alcove. I couldn’t tackle this the same way I do with a painting on an easel. I couldn’t go near to dab a little here or there. But amazingly, all those shades of blue came together just like that. And what inspired the design? God only knows how it all came together. Well, the good sister sent the design to the Philippines where it was carved and duly sent back and mounted by the local carpenter. All in all, it was a very fulfilling project but immediately after that I fell really sick for a week. When I finally recovered, guess what, my asthma was totally gone. And I hadn’t had it again since. I believe that somewhere somehow I needed to do this thing and I got healed in the process. Was it the symbols?

What the yoga sutras say

Finally, and this is something really far out on a limb. But it’s there in the yoga sutras. According to Swamiji’s commentary in his book, the Four Chapters on Freedom, the yoga sutras have a lot to say about psychological wellbeing. For example, Verse 1:32 of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras suggests the cultivation of intense interest in one thing, be it hobby or work. No wonder, the art club has always been an important element in most institutes or settings where people come together to bond or heal.

According to Patanjali, having a hobby or engaging in creative work can help develop one-pointedness or singular focus that is very essential to success on the spiritual path. It is known as keeping to one tattwa, or honing one’s craft with singular focus. Where the yoga sadhana is concerned, this means you don’t keep changing the elements in your sadhana or no good will come out of it. You will keep experiencing one or more of the 9 obstacles that will hinder your progress and this includes frequent illness and other ailments. It happened to me so I know this for a fact.

Patanjali Verse 1-32

Tat: that; pratisedhartham: for removal; eka: one; tattva: principle; abhyasah: practice.

For removal of those (obstacles and accompanying symptoms) the practice of concentration on one principle (is to be done).

If you had been given a mantra by your guru, you stick to it and don’t go changing it. Not at all. It’d be the same with the object for your meditation. Whatever your guru has designed for your spiritual growth is meant for you specifically. So one must keep faith with one’s practice in that way or you won’t see any fruit. It’s like trying to drive somewhere but you keep changing your direction. When it comes to art and craft, the same applies. Nothing good will come out of painting over with yet another colour just because we can’t make up our minds. Or, repeatedly erasing and re-drawing. I would certainly not hesitate to ban the eraser in my drawing classes.

Handcrafted items give off a strong energy imbued by its maker

To see this for yourself, take a pendulum or dowsing rods, and you will find that it picks up a high level of energy when it’s an object lovingly crafted by an artisan as opposed to an item manufactured in a factory. Feng Shui tells us how to maximize this kind of energy to create balance and harmony in the spaces we live and work in. It’s the art of living taken to a whole different level and it’s all about energy as well.

Equally, now you know why some clairvoyants can tell you a lot about the owner of an item once they touch it or hold it in their hands. Energy remains imbued in the item or the house where people once lived. They leave behind their energetic imprints. My mother used to warn me about buying items from antique shops for the same reason. You don’t know what it’s been used for and what energies you will be bringing back home. Best to be careful.

And lastly, you can watch the video again for my artwork and how the symbols in them help me speak where words fail…

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