Portrait Of The Artist As Not An Object 3

Portrait Of The Artist
As Not-An-Object 3, 2006
From The Perfect Mirror Three

(click for an enlargement)

Book Excerpts

The World As Light

An Introduction to
the Art of Adi Da Samraj
Part 2

  • 1
  • |
  • 2

World Light IconChapter One:

The "Room" Beyond "Point of View"

By Mei-Ling Israel

Looking in the Mirror

Adi Da Samraj has often spoken of the Greek myth of Narcissus, who stared into His own reflection in the pond, as a metaphor for the essence of human suffering. Narcissus falls in love with the beautiful face in the water, believing it is someone else. He is so spellbound by his own reflection that he never even hears the voice of his true beloved, and he eventually wastes away and dies.

When Adi Da tells this story, He calls attention to the water itself — the "real" place in which the illusory reflection appears. Carrying this lesson into His art, the reflective water is sometimes depicted as a mirror.

The image in the left margin, from His Perfect Mirror suites, can be seen as a visual "artist's statement". This paradoxical work, Portrait Of The Artist As Not-An-Object, holds the key to the purpose and meaning of all of Adi Da's images.

While reminiscent of Magritte, Adi Da goes beyond the surrealistic play with objective meaning. "This Is Not An Object" is a directive to the viewer.

He is saying: Look in the mirror, and instead of seeing a separate "other", keep looking beyond this illusion, to the mirror itself. If you take this instruction, you go through the mirror, and enter the "room" — a place of no distinction between subject and object, a place of non-separate unity.

This is Adi Da's gift to those who truly view His art.

Adi Da also describes the illusion of Narcissus as "point of view". In Adi Da's language, "point of view" is the error of looking at the world from a position in time and space, where "you" are at the center. "Point of view" is all that prevents entrance to the "room" of seamlessness and liberation from the pain of separateness.

Seeing the "Room"

Throughout His life, Adi Da has been asking the question, "What would the room look like if it were viewed from all possible 'points of view' at once?" How, in other words, could the totality of reality be known, without any involvement in the illusion of separation?

Reality Itself — like the "room" itself, as it is — is beyond "point of view". You always see every "room" from your "point of view". But the "room" exists, otherwise, as it is — from every possible "point of view" in space-time. Where is that "room"? Where are you in that "room"?

This is the purpose of Adi Da's art: to reveal the "room" beyond "point of view". This is also why He calls His art "Transcendental Realism" — because His art is purposed to show the true nature of reality, instead of what reality merely appears to be. Adi Da’s own creative act, beyond "point of view", is what allows reality to be revealed in His images.

The artistic work I do is a way of breaking beyond the limits of the separative body-mind, or the ego. It is about transcending the body-mind and transcending the ego by being entered into the root-dimension — which is that dimension of experiencing that is in touch with the real situation of existence.

That is how the images are made. That is what they are about. The profundity of transcending the ego is what all the imagery I make is about.

Unguarded Participation

Adi Da describes His art not as an object, but as a "performance-assisted subjective process". By this, He means that each viewer is assisted in the unique process of transcending "point of view", via the assistance of an art "performed" in freedom.

In His essay "The Beautiful Room of Perfect Space", from His book Transcendental Realism: The Image-Art of egoless Coincidence With Reality Itself, Adi Da speaks of the "true and traditional" purpose of the arts.

It is to draw the human being into the "sphere of the 'aesthetic experience' — in which the entire brain and nervous system... is profoundly 'tuned' to Reality". He says this state is identical to the "aesthetic experience of beauty", and calls it a great and necessary "human profundity", which "true art must serve".

The purity of the aesthetic experience actually requires no words, no concepts. As Adi Da has said, art speaks for itself. The secret in receiving Adi Da's art, therefore, is unguarded participation, allowing the aesthetically tuned faculties of the brain and nervous system to do their work, rather than letting the mind be a barrier to what is apparently incomprehensible.

As Adi Da has said, His images are intended to function as a means for the "brain to outgrow its illusions". His art is a response to a universally human need.

The images I make invite people to a participatory and transformative process. My images serve a mode of participation and perception that is non-ordinary, that breaks beyond the "box" of the body-mind.

"Point of view", or the ego's mode of viewing existence, is gone beyond, undermined — not "flattered", not permitted, in some sense — by the very nature of these images.

I work to have the images serve the participant's transformative participation in reality altogether, to draw the participant into sublimity.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
— from The Dawn Horse Press —

World As Light Cover The World As Light
An Introduction to the
Art of Adi Da Samraj
by Mei-Ling Israel

A generously illustrated overview of Adi Da’s artwork from 1967 to 2007.

128 pages
Over 140 color and black-and-white illustrations.
Quality paperback