Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Thoughts on the Heart In The Bronx
Last Thursday was the opening of Heaven and Earth, A Meditation on the Symbols of the Puerto Rican Heart at the Bronx Library Center. It was possibly the most special opening I have ever had.
The public was composed mostly of the library visitors, and three good friends who are also artisans. A spontaneous conversation began when the first few people present realized I was the artist. They started asking questions, and I answering them, in a conversation that soon flowed into a poetry reading from the poetry handmade books in the exhibition. I read in Spanish and translated into English at the same time... quite a feat for me!
At the end, a man who I had met a little earlier while arranging the food came up to me to tell me his thoughts. Few people have ever been able to put into clear words what my paintings are about, but this man, Manuel, said it much better than I ever could. I asked him if he would put them in writing so I could share them here. And he agreed:
SACRED HEART OF THE EARTH by Tanya Torres
by Manuel Sánchez Jr.
The Throne of God resides in the heart of the faithful. The prophet muhammad said, "Verily, there is a lump of flesh in the body , if it is clean, the whole person is clean, verily it is the heart. " Another tradition maintains: "I was searching for God and went to the Syanogogue, but he was not there, I went to the Church, but he was not there, I went to the Temple, but he was not there, I went to the Mosque, but he was not there. When finally, I looked in my heart --and I found him there. " The mystic Rumi said " close both eyes and see with the other eye" he is referrring to the eye of the heart of the spiritually realized person.
In Tanya's painting , the downward branch symbolizes that to make spiritual progress we must be anchored to an authentic spiritual path for upward ascension. The multiple branches that come out ot the heart symbolize that throughout time God has spoken to humanity providing multiple paths for guidance and spiritual realization. The branches going upward indicate that at the lower level there seem to be apparent differences in the outer worship (exoteric) of every different path (Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Taoism). But at the top the differences vanish, - when the seeker obtains union in ultimate Reality, Ultimate truth, or as the Sufi's say, Extinction in the Divine Reality. All the branches become one in acknowledging that divine truth is one. This is the inner (esoteric) spiritual path which is symbolized in Tanya Torres's painting.
The vanishing of outer differences of spirtual paths was captured by the Sufi Saint Ibn Arabi of Spain when he Wrote:
My heart is capable of every form, it is a pasture for Gazelles, and a convent for Christian Monks,
And Idol -Temple and the Pilgrims Kaba (Mecca),
and the tables of the Torah, and the book of the Koran;
I follow the religion of Love, whichever way his camels take;
My religion and my faith is the true religion.
Another Mystic, Jalaladin Rumi said it this way:
I am neither Christian nor Jew nor parsinor Muslim, I am neither of the East nor of the West, neither of the land nor ot the sea... I have put aside duality and have seen that the two worlds are One, I seek the one, I know the One, I invoke the One. He is the first, He is the Last, He is the Outward, He is the Inward.
The heart painted by Tanya Torres is situated in the sky among the white clouds. This is a powerful symbol of the aspirant travelling through the heavens on the path to divine union or unification: the reversal of the fall of man in this life. This symbolizes that the heart is also the seat of desire and must be purified of the Ego and all lower desires- if one is to succeed in the spiritual quest. The heart that has been purified is capable of receiving the divine lights of God and unveil the eternal light within us which is buried beneath the rubble of our falleness.
Tanya's painting can be considered Sacred Art. Sacred Art is Art that causes a stirring in the soul and awakens the indestructable eternal, primordial self we all have within us. It holds a mirror to our self and asks where am I in the spectrum of reversing my falleness and achieving highest possiblity of humanity?