Art and Self Knowledge

© Rachmad Sofyan© Rachmad Sofyan

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: […]

Paradise / Paradox

Mauna Kea #1 © David Ulrich

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 […]

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

Matisse Cut-Outs, MoMA, 2014

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 […]

What (and Who) is Art For?

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

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 […]

Spiritual Practice for a New Generation: Part Two

Cup © Nicholas Hlobeczy

The Path of the RoninWe can look to the teachings themselves as a means of shedding light on our exploration of spiritual practice for a new generation. Certain standards or measures exist to insure fidelity of transmission from one person to another. Most teachings employ a means of discriminating one’s level of understanding and delineating one’s role within a teaching. A seeker is one who wishes to know, who enters […]

Spiritual Practice for a New Generation

© Kanani Ann Daley© Kanani Ann Daley

Part OneAs a spiritual seeker, and as a guide and mentor for some, I hold many questions about the state of spiritual practice in today’s world. Many authors and teachers have shared acute observations about the “flatlining” of modern society — that many don’t acknowledge any reality higher than what can be perceived directly by our senses or by the means of scientific inquiry. Myth and magic, religion and the […]

Education and the Cultivation of Wisdom

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

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 […]