- The Artists Return Budget
- Artist Journey Blessing Opportunities in the Philippines
- Our Full Project Intention Map (see The Artists Section):
- The Power of Art for Co-Creative Transformation: The Value of the Project
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Me on top of the mountain for the sunrise this morning. Not alone.
The artist way has always been a lonely path. There is this idea that you need to toil away in deep solitude to find the gems of insight that are then laboriously lugged to the surface. It is a very individualistic idea. It connects to the concept of steady linear development of the self or of a body of artistic work.
It is bull shit really. Look at the great Artists of this old way of doing art: Picasso, Van Goh, Degas and more. Picasso was a terrible guy. Most of the others go insane. Their art and lives are plagued by loneliness, ego and co-dependence..
Sure they made great paintings-- but at the vast neglect of the canvas of life.
Frankly, it's all a symptom of the over idealization of the masculine that I alluded to in my last post. This over indulgence of one type of masculine creativity over the feminine. Truly, a balanced life can't be created with an exclusively masculine system of power based on control, analysis and logical, linear thinking, nor can it be achieved or executed with a strategic plan. What about love, intimacy, connection, belonging, creativity, self-expression, aliveness, meaningful community, purpose within the collective, and belonging? These would be the principles of the long neglected and all but discarded feminine. Do any of those concepts connect to what you know about Picasso? Van Goh? Nope.
There is a big shift going on in the way we do art. I see it in the work and new cooperation consciousness of my fellow artists. There are some amazingly exciting collaborative projects beginning out there. Art that inspires others to be artists, to create together, to use our differences to make beauty. Art that downplays the individual and puts everyone on equal creative footing. It is beautiful!
Yep. Toiling all alone as an illustrious artist it is silly. So much better to do things together. As a team, collective, community. To do things co-creatively. There this lots of place for being an individual, but you go about it knowing the depth of your interconnectedness, and that you cant do things on your own.
My artistic practice has been a reflection of this development of my own consciousness. All I can say is... Hurray! As my good friends know, I began trying to do it all alone. Then, I graduated to leading through employment. Then through charm and charisma. In all these modes, I was still really lone wolfing it. The ego-driven individualistic way was so deeply ingrained in me and western culture.
But now... The times are a changin'! As Sheryl Crow sings 'I am leaving Las Vegas!"
More on co-creation to follow...
Saturday, August 28, 2010
That title should get some attention! But, that is indeed the topic. This post was originally written as a letter to the 1Mandala team on a paragraph we are developing on 'What is Co-Creation?'. I've edited it to post on the general issue and experience.
Two weeks ago, here in Sagada, I had the pleasure of entertaining two amazing women from Manila who both work with NGO's focued on women's rights. One has been representing women in court who have been abused. The other works at and lobbies for women's reproductive rights in the Philipines.
When I first met them, they had the tensest vibe going on. Me, all chill here in Sagada, almost elected not to hang with them.
But, I did... and I learned fast why they were so stressed-- they are doing incredibly important and difficult work with women and girls who have faced the worst types of abuse and injustice and the social systems that permit it.
They told the story of girls from a countryside province here in the Philipines who were tricked into prostitution in the city. Forced to swallow heroin capsules they were used to smuggle drugs across borders here, and used as sexual bribery for customs officials. Fucking terrible.
How can men do this to women? How can humans do this to humans? It's not just a few bad people, there are many people involved in such schemes. This was the worst example of a pattern of exploitation broadly endemic that to legally deal with all the cases is overwhelmingly impossible.
My other new friend works with women's and reproductive rights lobbying. Her organization pressures the government for change, publishes examples of abuse and brings attention to the issues in the media. She lamented that despite the importance of the ideas that she is working with, they are so abstract and lofty that they are inaccessible to the women and men in the villages that really need to hear them and understand them most. Most don't read that much and are busy just making ends meet-- they don't have much opportunity to explore abstracts like gender roles and equality. And yet, for all the legislation, the change has to happen here and in these people's hearts first.
And so, the patterns continue and horrendous situations like this continue to manifest. We talked that it's not just the Philipines, it is a dynamic around the world. Sex tourism is a major problem here too-- and this is Americans and Canadians who are the ones perpetuating it. Then there's the massive pornography industry. Then there's the women/human trafficking business that is now bigger than the arms trade. This exploitative dynamic goes deep worldwide.
Despite their important work representing and bringing these issues to the fore, they expressed a feeling of not being able to tackle the root. They were dealing with the symptoms on a the top, whereas the fundamental dis-ease, dis-harmony was not being addresses.
We agreed that it is something deep in the human collective unconscious that has caused a power imbalance of the masculine and feminine, in such a way that one has come to dominate the other.
And so what is the root? Where do these skewed values that enable the dominating and exploitation of the feminine come from? And how to heal it?
There is clearly a religious dimension to it. The religions if the world have a definitive over-valuation of the masculine over feminine. This imbalance that developed over the last mellenia has then effected Western philosophy-- almost all the major philosophers of the last five hundred years have been male. The ideas and energetic social contribution of females has been repressed, banned and outright demonized. And thus we find ourselves in an age where the values and contributions of the feminine principle are sorely lacking in our civilization, communities and ourselves.
I am still reflecting on this: where do you think the imbalance comes from?
I will follow up on this in a second post. I'd like to share what we are writing for the 1Mandala. Let me leave off with this quotation:
"The things we most yearn for can't be created with an exclusively masculine system of power based on control, analysis and logical, linear thinking, nor can they be executed with a strategic plan.
Feminine Power on the other hand, is a magnetic, co-creative power that gives us access to create those things we most deeply desire as humans--such as love, intimacy, connection, belonging, creativity, self-expression, aliveness, meaning, purpose, contribution and a brighter future for generations to come."
-- Katherine Zammit
Friday, August 27, 2010
Morning dawns in Sagada: should I leave today for Bontoc?
There were so many times on my bike journey that I would come to an intersection and just have no clue whether to go left or right. After many agonizing moments and forced decisions, I learned that indeed if things weren't clear, that it was the moment to just chill. Maybe to pump some air in my tires or something. That's when the local with helpful advice would walk by, I'd see a hidden sign post, or maybe a butterfly would just flutter off in a particular direction.
And then I'd continue. My tires a little fuller, my ride a little smoother, my smile... intact!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
So, I noticed yesterday that my blog about fresh peanuts got as much attention as some of my most profound existential posts. Maybe I ought to mix it up a little more often!
Well, do I ever have a lot more local stories to share as I weave through lands!
Take yesterday for example. I went up the mountain with two of my priest friends to visit the old parish Bishop. Over coffee we got talking about some of the indigenous foods and medicines.
They told me what they do with dogs. I almost fell out of my freaking chair!
You see, there are alot of dogs in the village. There always has been. And, when people get sick, or need an extra boost of health or energy, they take one of these dogs and bring it into the house.
Then, they tie them up, take a little knife and make an incision in it's jugular and insert a straw.
And then they sip!!!
I am totally serious here folks. These weren't some guys kidding around at the bar-- these were the local Anglican priests and Bishop-- some of the most well educated and cultured in the village. All three in fact have taken the drink. One of their priest colleagues is an avid... er... what shall we say... Dog Sipper, and proponent of the cure. I've checked around with other villagers, it is a rare but actual ongoing traditional practice in the village. They use it in cases of heavy fever or after transfusions.
The bishop explained that although he had given it a shot, er... sip, he hadn't been able to swallow. Apparenttly, the dog gets a little agitated and the pulsating flow and warmth of it through the straw all was too much to take.
I can't say I blame him!
Ok... Next I'll share what they do with live cobras.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I must have eaten millions of peanuts in my life. I love 'em. However, it was only in the last week that I tried my first fresh peanut. I discovered that they grow them here in Sagada and sell them in the market.
Unbeleivable. Really! Fresh peanuts are so amazingly tasty. So much so that the revelational experience warranted is own dedicated blog post.
You see, a fresh peanut is still wet and moist from coming out of the ground. The peanut inside the shell, likewise. The hard ones you buy at the store are dried out-- my misconception was that I thought that is how they grew! But fresh, they are a little mushy, purple in colour and FULL of flavor.
Unbelievable. You haven't lived until you have had a fresh peanut.
Have you seen the movie '10,000 BC'? Many critics dismissed it as rather superficial. And maybe it was, but there were a few things about it I found deeply intriguing.
There was the reference to Atlantis and the Atlanteans that was so brief that I had to pause the movie and go frame by frame over a shot of a map in the movie. The movie dared not say it outright but it's historical background was in fact a post-Atlantis recreation decidedly based on the work of many non-traditional historians.
But that is not why I am blogging here. There was a line in the movie that totally caught me. Again, I paused and rewound the movie in order to write it out. Here it is:
"A good man draws a circle around himself and cares for those within-- his women, his children. Other men draw a larger circle and bring within their brothers and sisters. But some men have a great destiny. They must draw around themselves a circle that includes many many more. Your father was one of those men. You must decide for yourself if you are as well."
Thursday, August 19, 2010
So as many of you know, I travel Jesus style without much $ to throw around. However, as a direct consequence, I also connect deeply with some of the most humble folks and communities on Earth. In these places I encounter simple ways to leave enormous blessings. Blessings to people who aren't asking, yet who's joy I can so easily imagine. Despite my limited funds, I do my best and I am proud of the generosity that I can muster to bless and bring light to the places I pass through.
But this week, my wallet was just a tad too barren, despite all these great openings to shine light.
Take for example Evelyn from Sagada-- her tooth causes her great pain but she doesn't have the 8$ for the dentist appointment. Or there is the family that I met the other day in the remote village of Fedelisan. Their two boys have never had apples before-- as they thrice the price of other fruit (a bag = 4$). Then, there's Jeffrey's family from Delican. Their village has no road access, the only way to it is a one hour walk over a deep valley. His wife, two, kids and parents live in a small wooden home in this amazingly beautiful village, yet without things like electriciy or cameras. Imagine never having a family portrait! I would love to develop and gift them with their family portrait above (3$)! Then there's Jhane, a beautiful 23 year old from Baguio who has a cataract in one eye. Just 20$ to see an optometrist.
Blogging today, it struck me that maybe you can help me help them!
1Mandala prints are now on sale. Funds go partly to me. Although there are no banks here in these villages that take my card, if you contact me directly, and you can send the money via Western Union.
I can guarantee, not only will you get an amazing mandala made of beautiful peace portraits.... I be able to make some deliveries and send you and the 1Mandala three or four other awesome photos.
Check out the 1Mandala Print prices here:
Again don't buy using paypal there, it will take too long for the money to get to me. Instead drop me a line at russ (at) 1Mandala.org
Hiking from Sagada to Mainit village over a remote mountain pass in the Northern Philippines, I came across these beautiful specimens of the carnivorous 'Pitcher' plant. The plant uses sweet liquid at the bottom of it's pitcher shaped appendage to lure, capture and digest bugs as a mechanism to compensate for the low nitrogen soil content. Wow. What a wonderful world!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The other day, as I mentioned in my last post, I arrived from an epic two day hike from one village to another over an obscure and remote mountain trail. It was a experience rich in adventure and life lessons.
On my hike there was a moment where I was completely lost in the thick forest as my path turned into a dozen smaller versions. Only after climbing up through the bush to the mountain ridge did I finally find a main trail. However, I didn't know which way to go! Right or Left? I sat down in despair. I just couldnt decide which way! I pondered everything I knew about my current position, the guidance I had been given, what I could see from the top-- but still, it was a complete draw. Left or Right?
Alas, my normally trusty intuition was no help either. When I asked it which way to go, all I had in return was a bad feeling at the very question.
Restless, I decided I had to keep moving. I forced myself to choose a way. I hiked right. The ridge trail took me up the mountain higher and higher two kilometers. Then, not spying anything promising, I decided it was the wrong way. So, I hiked back to the point where I had begun. Then, I hiked left, a steep, downwards and perilous kilometer.
That's when I met the three bushmen.
They were quietly making their way up the mountain trail towards me with steady, knowing steps. They had carved walking sticks, straw hats and one of them a blade of grass in his mouth. I've learned a fair bit of the local dialect, so after some pleasantries, I discovered I was headed back to the village I had left that morning! How embarrassing! They offered to show me the way. With only a few words, they had me follow them back the way I had come.
To my vast chagrin we hiked back up the one kilometer, then, alllllll the @&$!; way back up the two kilometers that I had hiked first. Here we stopped and they showed me the turn to make that I had missed the first time round.
All in all I did 6 kms when all I really had to do was 2kms!
Trully, it would have been better if I had just done nothing, chilled out, and taken a nap! I had a bad feeling and I should have just waited until things were clear. This was actually one of my thoughts when I first came to the trail. And it would have been sooo nice to have taken a snooze! Sometimes we can be vastly more productive doing 'no thing'.
So there's two lessons here. First, chill if things arent clear.
The second, is a little less obvious, and much more profound.
You cant find your way by yourself.
It's a lesson I needed a good reminder on. It's true not just in the mountain, but in the rest of life. The individualistic concept of a lone journey of self discovery is fundamentally flawed.
You can't become yourself by yourself.
I'd like to quote here an exigesis of this powerful statement. It is from two women who are exploring the concept of co-creation.
"Even though we have friends and cheerleaders, our approach to changing our lives, realizing our potentials and even transforming our world has been largely inside a masculine power system that celebrates the power of the individual.
In this power system we assume that we don't really need each other's partnership to create the things we most long for (we can find the path on our own!).
Most of us have been working on ourselves by ourselves for decades, struggling in isolation to breakthrough old patterns and bring forth our gifts and talents into the world (or to climb a mountain!).
Even though we may have supportive friends, or may even belong to supportive communities, we still emotionally feel like we are alone and lacking in the kind of support that we sense is critical to being able to flourish and thrive in ways that would represent the true realization of our potentials.
And what's even worse, we pathologize ourselves for not being able to do it alone. (boy, was I frustrated at myself!)
We tell ourselves that we are weak, inadequate or that there's something wrong with us because we can't gain mastery over our lives without support.
We need to recognize that we are relational beings and actually need each other's partnership to access the power that we need to thrive.
So, we want to validate the deeper knowing that you may already sense:
You were not designed to be alone!
You need much more support to bring forward the fullness of your gifts.
And it's only by coming together that we have access to the power to take on something as big and overwhelming as responding to the challenges of our world."
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Alas when you're deep underground no one see can see you-- even if you're
working real hard! The last few months we've been working hard and laying deep the 1Mandala's foundation. Yet despite all our hard work-- there
hasn't been much to see!
We are emerging into the light! Over the next few weeks we'll be
introducing you to the new project-- from our new intention, our new core
team, our new project invite, our new co-creative engine, and... a
thousand-strong new build of the 1Mandala.
We dream of building a mandala with tens of thousands of people. This is
a big! And when your building something big, the likes of which has never been seen before, it requires not only a strong foundation, but doing
things a whole new way.
Oh boy... are we excited to share our new foundation with you and the gold
nuggets of co-creative insight we've found underground!
Stay tuned folks as we roll out our new pillars one by one over the next
Because we are all One,
Russell & the New 1Mandala 1Team
The New Global 1Team of the 1Mandala Project:
Russell Maier - Sagada, Earth
Helen Layton - BC, Canada
Dan Millstein - California, USA
Yorlene Vega - Jaco, Costa Rica
John Edwards - Hamilton, Canada
Catalina Sursilov - Bucharest,Romania
Vero Ciz - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Jarrett Krentzel - NYC, America
Sarah Queblatin - Manila, Philippines
Yep. That would be Russell the adventurer! He's back out of the darkness and into the light.
I've been pent up too long, working too hard, giving only my mind the fun. But what about my body? Ah yes! The past two days were not only all about physical exertion, but letting loose my soul! After an epic two day hike, I write from Mainit, a remote village nestled in the green mountains.
Oh my goodness! What a full blown adventure that was.
Like any good adventure it began in a smoky dimly lit bar. 'The Bamboo Grill' in Sagada is the one place in town that defies the curfew and stays open past 9. The bartender, Vince, and I were talking. I explained how I wanted to walk from Sagada to Mainit and avoid the road. Vince, took a drag from his cigarette, and smiled. "There's a trail that only the locals know, my friend. Over the mountain. Through the valley. You can't go wrong.". He took another swig of gin.
I got excited. Just what I was looking for! The way Vince described it seemed simple enough. In fact he seemed to indicate it would only take 3-4hrs and that it would be no problem at all. I imagined one direct trail, easy to follow.
And thus, I set off without a map, without even bothering to download any satellite images to my iPhone. I didn't even give the general direction a little research. I just set off with my destination and my smile.
In the midst of the journey it struck me that my trip was rather symbolic of how I undertake everything in life. Screw money, maps and plans-- if my heart is calling me in a direction, I just set off! All those little other details seem to just manifest themselves on the way.
And so it was! On the first day of the hike, after setting out a little too late, I met a kind woman at a roadside shop. She invited me to follow to her village, which was on my way. It was a winding trail down into Fedelisan, a village perched on the misty green mountainside.
Alas, dusk began to fall. At the foot of a majestic falls, as the grey an rainy fog descended around us, she offered a place at her home for the night. Ignorant of what was ahead of me I almost turned her down to press on! But, it was a generous and warm offer, and my intuition urged me to go with the local advice and the kindness. And boy, was that a good decision.
And so I spent the night in Fedelisan, this little town nestled in this incredible verdant valley. I met her husband and her and her three sons. We gathered around the fire for local rice and beans on the wooden floor. Their sons were learning some English at school so we did some language trading. We played a little game, pointing to the various objects throughout the simple kitchen/main room. Everyone joined in and all our linguistic horizons were expanded.
Then, I let the kids drive for the first time in their life-- Krash Bandicot, a video game on my iPhone. They loved that! That kept them busy while we talked about Canada and the Philipines. They were very eager to learn about my distant place.
I slept on the floor, and rose at dawn. Adomai's husband was heading into the mountains also, so after a hearty breakfast, and fond farewell, we headed out.
He led me down the valley and to the foot of the mountain. And then we headed up. It was to be just one of many insanely precariously mountainside climbs that day. After an hour of pulling myself up on rocks and avoiding slippery mud spots, we made it to a ledge where he and his companions were set to work for the day on the water pipe to the village.
From there, the workers pointed me in the direction to go. I waved goodbye and set out with a smile into the jungle underbrush and earthen trail. It wasn't quite as clearcut as Vince had seemed to indicate in between the swigs of gin. The sun glisten gold through the green canopy. Orange and black butterflies fluttered around me. The air was misty and fresh. What a glorious morning!
And in half and hour I was hopelessly lost!
To be continued...
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
For the last two years I've been working on a project. It's taken me on the most incredible journey. It's taken me to the most unlikely places-- heck, here I am living in a village in the mountains of the Philipines! The journey has taken me deep deep inside myself for the most profound insights, coalescing of confidence, the crystallization of vision. This is what happens when, using the ancient and sacred art, you build a mandala.
It's also brought me into fellowship with the most amazing people-- folks from around the planet that share a similar passion for the radical idea of Oneness. Folks who are ready to do something about it. Friendship, love and mentorship has blossomed in a way that can only happen when you are in the midst of sharing an epic adventure of hardship, joy, trials, in a civilizational moment of great shift.
And so we've come together as a rock solid team. A core group of nine of us has united-- kinda like the fellowship of the Ring à la J.R Tolkien. Together we have set out on a grand quest. Over eight months we have revamped the project from first principles. Together we have crafted a vision and a plan for a revolutionary art project-- the only one of it's kind that I know that trascends culture, language and geography to enable anyone on the planet to contribute in building something beautiful. And this is important-- because humanity has been creating in ways that aren't so harmonious and towards things that aren't so beautiful. It's time for us to rise above this, and why not start with an art project that literally unifies all our intentions for a new Earth? Art is where humanity's new ideas first show up. And the ripples go out long and far.
And so, all this hard work on our conceptual infrastructure, we're ready to start unveiling our work and get rocking publicly. We have an eight part series of newsletters crafted and ready to send out, each points at the various elements of our conceptual work over the last few months.
Our team met last night and concurred, time to let them out to the world!
Time to Rock and Roll. Look out Mordor!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Is love a nice flowery feeling that goes smooth and easy? I used to think so. I suppose you would call it the 'Happily ever after' concept. The idea that when you've found Great Love it would be by definition smooth sailing-- lots of bliss and nice emotions.
Folks, I am discovering it is the opposite!
To be human is to feel. When we are feeling we are alive. There nothing wrong with feelings-- despite the cries of my Western conditioning. Even such "bad stuff" as anger, sadness, envy, frustration. This is our humanity! The emotions are not to be resisted, but welcomed and most of all... Expressed!
When we allow ourselves to feel, this is when we grow, blossom and heal. In fact, it is the only time we grow, blossom and heal. Why? Because, when we feel and express the emotions we are let the energy flow. The real poisoning danger is truly to not express, to deny and to bury the feelings. The emotional energy goes somewhere whether you like it or not-- and ten years later you wind up needing two weeks of massages to deal with iron knots of tension.
With this realization, one comes to welcome, to love, those who stimulate and who give you the space to express the most intense and deep feelings whether they are good or "bad" . I say "bad emotions" because really, when you see it this way, even the bad feelings (especially the bad feelings!) are the real treasures. The fast track to insight and empowerment. And when you see it this way, then bad comes to mean good. And good feelings are just as good! The space that the other provides contains this implicit consciousness. The expressions aren't taken personally, because both know the expressor is the responsible one.
I happen to have a lover that have given me soooo many emotion (exhibit A, above)-- including really pissing me the fuck off. Through her, and the space to feel and express, I have come to learn sooooo much about myself.
I LOVE her for this.
Listen, I will be honest with you
I do not offer the old smooth prizes
But offer rough new prizes
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is called riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve.
However sweet the laid up stores,
However convenient the dwelling, you shall not remain there.
However sheltered the port, however calm the waters, you shall not anchor there.
However welcome the hospitality that welcomes you,
You are permitted to receive it but a little while Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road
Healthy, free, the world before you the long brown path before you, leading wherever you choose.
Say only to one another:
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money; I give you myself before preaching and law"
What is more myself than my deepest emotions and feelings expressed? What is love? Dare I say... to express!
Sunday, August 1, 2010
I have been here in Sagada, Philipinnes for the last 40 days. It has been one hell of a time. I don't think I have ever been quite so low. In the worst of it I typed into my iPhone the following:
"This is the bottom. It can only be up from here. Let us focus on that. Really, truly focus on that. Yesterday i was all but paralyzed. Both literally and figuratively. My neck is completely unmovable. Today, I can move a little more. I have no money, no way to leave, I am sick and now feverish. What to do. Nothing. There's nothing to do but just be with this."
Sagada is in the mountains. Jesus also spent some time in the mountains. 40 days in fact. Time spent in the mountains tends to bring clarity of purpose. Just what I need. But, boyI would never have imagined the clairty would come like this.
When I got to Sagada I wasn't quite sure were I was headed next. I also still was mystified but what was wrong with me-- this unnerving numbness on half of my body. Note, that I say 'was mystified'. In the spirit of a 40 day mountain pilgrimage, clarity has descended upon me through the ardour, the plight and the pathos. Dare I say "Hallelujah"?
While being stuck here, I figured I would take advantage of what for a Canadian is incredibly inexpensive massages. We've launched 1Mandala print sales to a 30 person test group, and the dollars from a sale go a long way here. Thank you Luisella, Yasmin, Francine, Ron, Ian, Nadia, Helen, ! I found an amazing masseuse here.
After a couple massages it became clear that I had some immense knots of tension in my back and neck. The type of thing that pinches nerves and accounts for my strange neurological symptoms over the last year. The knots go way back. I know, because I have had lots of massages in the past, but I've never had them go this deep. The knots must go back eight years or more. I just assumed the big bump on my shoulders was normal. But its not. Its collosal nerve and blood vessel impeding mass. And now that they are going away... I can feel all my tongue again!!
The gratitude begins to flow. As I pointed out to my friend Ian in a recent e-mail, I would never have made this discovery if I hadn't been confined to Sagada for this long. It is funny how it all works and comes together. I have found both clarity in myself and outside myself here. I can see where I go next. Where?
Here. I am going to stay a little longer and see the massage therapy through. And with that... I can feel myself emerging from this dark night of the soul.
Funny too... the masseuse's name is Dawn!