Art and Spiritual Practice

Escalante Falls, UT © David Ulrich

Creativity and Zen

Creativity and Zen practice are deeply allied. They are both ways of life and are not just something you do. Rather, they are related to what you are—how you live your life, and on what kind of values you bestow meaning and importance. Creativity and Zen are pathways that can help make us whole and help us become more present, awake, and alive. Many artists intuitively grasp the necessity for […]

The Paradox of Permanence © Alison Beste

Zen Camera: Seeing and the Five Visual Elements of Photography

Each of us has in our possession a powerful and time-honored way of knowing about the world. Observation, direct perception in the present moment, teaches us about ourselves and others and helps us interpret the many dynamics that surround us. It shapes our response to the world and forms the basis for both knowledge and action. In one’s way of seeing lies one’s way of action. —Alfred Stieglitz, photographer Both […]

© Rachmad Sofyan© Rachmad Sofyan

Art and Self Knowledge

Who Am I?Know Thyself.” Socrates words resound with an inner force as clear and direct as their first utterance over twenty-five centuries ago. These two simple words lie at the heart of the world’s great teachings and have had a profound impact on the thought and inquiry of western civilization. What do these powerful words really mean? How do we approach this vast and essential task? And for our purposes: […]

Mauna Kea #1 © David Ulrich

Paradise / Paradox

Crossroads of Heaven and Earth on Mauna KeaAmong the many roles that artists can play is to bring perspective, create an enlarged viewpoint, and to offer their wisdom through carefully crafted objects invested with feeling and thought. By thought, I mean the intelligence that grows from one’s entire being, formulated in thinking that is capable of transcending literal and rational description. Several years ago, I worked on a small project […]

Matisse Cut-Outs, MoMA, 2014

Be Simple but Go Deep: The Cut-Outs of Matisse

I would be the first to admit that art for art’s sake is a limiting concept and that artists cannot ignore the complexities of the time and place in which they live. History has proven that art serves many functions in the world. It teaches us about the realities of other people, other times, other places. It can engender empathy and compassion. It can awaken us to social, natural, and […]

© David UlrichSugar Cane Burn, Maui, HI © David Ulrich, 2001

What (and Who) is Art For?

An American VisionThe arts reflect the soul of a people; they express the spirit of an age. If this is true, and historically all evidence affirms this, then what can we deduce from this graphic? The diagram shows the most prevalent search for artists on eBay by state. Since eBay is a commerce site, we can safely assume that at least some of these searches were made with the intention […]

Makapu‘u Lighthouse © David UlrichMakapu‘u Lighthouse © David Ulrich

Education and the Cultivation of Wisdom

An Ever-present Invitation to Ever-greater OpennessAs an educator, I face the question daily: In what way can modern education contribute to the cultivation of wisdom and the search for clarity of thought and perception? Many of my students have confided in me that striving towards independent thought, emotional understanding, and direct perception are noticeably absent from most of their educational experiences in school — and that they are looking for […]

© Alison Beste, Aina Haina

Intimations of Infinity

Visions of Hawai‘iWhen I look out the window of my home, towards Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean, I see infinity. I can see as far as the distant horizon allows. Often, the ocean and sky blend together into a featureless, luminous field of color and light. I see this daily and it enters my consciousness deeply. It changes me in ways I cannot quite identify. I am constantly reminded […]