Serpent's wisdom for the other kingdom

Serpent's wisdom for the other kingdom
Artist: Moosa Mamdhuh

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Nirvana or Bust!: How I meditate.

I believe that meditation is like a roadmap to find that serene state of mind. There are many techniques and rituals to achieve this state of bliss, where all that nagging voices clams down and turns all that noises all the way down. This is not an impossible task. The mind needs a break from the external information feed every now and then.

Many misunderstands the true concept of meditating. First, lets get the most obvious misconceptions out of the way. Meditating is not a religious ritual like praying or worshipping. We may have borrowed the techniques from one of the oldest religion of the world, but it has nothing to do with acknowledging Hindu deities. Perhaps the only parallel might be the act of acknowledging and embracing the divinity within one's self. I don't think this is a bad thing or blasphemous per se. In fact, knowing one's self can be empowering to say the least. Believe in your self. Love your self. After all, who will if you don't?

Another misconception is that one can achieve nirvana by meditation. This is not entirely true. Meditation is just one of the tool to guide you down the path to enlightenment. There are other disciplines like exercising (Yoga) and adopting a healthy diet to nourish the physical body, in order for the mind to form healthy thoughts. Yet another misunderstanding is people tend to believe that drugs can produce the same results as meditation. There can be some parallels such as achieving Ego death and comprehension of the incomprehensible multiple realities. Let me explain. Ego death is that moment when a person realizes there is no 'I' as an individual, but as an inseparable 'One' with the universe or all that Is. Psychoactives and Psychedelics can help you achieve this, but I won't confuse it with what you can achieve by meditation.

Enough of that for now. So how do you meditate? My version is quite simple;

  1. I sit comfortably (cross-legged) with my spine as straight as I can.
  2. Eyes closed, I try to shift my weight around until all the muscles (shoulders, neck, back and thighs) are relaxed.
  3. Concentrate on my breathing, Chanting Om helps to achieve a comfortable rhythm as well as calms the whole body with the vibration it creates. I do this as long as I'm confident of the rhythm and all the unnecessary noises/voices calms down.
  4. After stopping the chanting, I start to light the chakras. Starting from the first - the base of the spine. I use the rainbow colors for my chakras. Red (Base of the spine), Orange (genital region), Yellow (intestines) , moving up to Green (stomach), Blue (lungs), Purple (throat. I being to chant Om from this point onwards), Indigo (3rd eye) and finally White for the crown Chakra.
  5. I believe lighting chakras helps to generate the flow of the potential energy up thru the central nervous system. This energy needs to flow from the base of the spine and out of the crown.
  6. Now I imagine this energy to flow out from the crown and flow downwards all the way to enter thru the 1st Chakra, like a spherical or Horn Torus (see top image) with myself (the spine, central nervous system) in the center. The pace of the flow is to the rhythm of Om.
  7. I stop chanting when I feel it becomes sort of like 'automatic'. 
  8. This is the state when the physical being (the body and brain) feels relaxed and almost detached from the mind. I believe this is the state when the brain stops forming thoughts, leaving the conscious in its natural state. Free from constantly referring to memories of past experiences. This is the serene state I referred to in the beginning of this article.

    I hope this has been enlightening.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Interview with an Octopus

Had the most enlightening meeting with the Turkish artist, Ali Osman Coşkun. I was on an assignment for Lavish magazine to cover his recent exhibition, "Octopus' Land Notes" held at the National Art Gallery. His perspective on art industry (a term he dislikes) was exceptionally interesting. He said that hegemony of art messes up the natural evolution of art.

"They (the capital or ruling class)create and commercialize cultural icons like Marilyn Monroe or James Dean to cash-in on their success. This sort of creates a cultural tunnel-vision, the ones neglected suffers even if they are comparatively beneficial to the society. Van Gogh is a good example. He sold only one painting when he was alive. The society was so engrossed in what the elite favored they failed to notice his genius. Of course, they wasted no time to make him a cultural icon soon after his death." (Read the full interview in the next Lavish edition)

Follow Ali Osman Coşkun on his website>>

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Traditional Dhoni Art of Maldives

Art is a human distinction that is unique to us. Inspiring us to be constructively creative to excel above other species. Art came into being out of a necessity to communicate and express ourselves with each other. Initially to describe where and how to acquire food and water. 

It is in our nature to strive for individuality and beautification by means of body art and ornamentation. Using colorful adornments also creates a cultural identity that isn’t restricted to the body, it extends to objects and tools that are used daily in the community.

Likewise, art played a vital role in Maldives. A distinct cultural identity was inspired from the environment and incorporated into facets of island life. Eventually, this enrichment of culture was translated further into a visual identity. Maldives being a waterworld of scattered islands in the Indian Ocean, sailing was the only mode of transport and fishing was the primary livelihood. As a thriving fishing community, fishing boats or *Mas dhoni was the most prized possession. It is only natural that it visually reflect the cultural identity of the Maldivians.

Notice the circular art on the rudder

Dhoni art had many functions other than just making the boat look good. As mentioned, it was an effective way to identify local vessels from one another. Simply, it was an easier way to distinguish the friendlies from the enemies out on the vast seas. Back then,   piracy was rampant in the absence of coast guards. It was a matter of life and death to identify the approaching vessel from a safe distance, helping the fishermen to decide to either fish or flight.

The traditional Mas dhoni evolved quite rapidly in its attempt to keep up with new technological inventions and innovations, tragically losing the art and culture in the process.

*The Maldivian Dhoni is a traditional handcrafted wooden sailboat used for fishing and sailing to other islands. The name Dhoni probably was derived from the Arabian Dhow, which has a striking resemblance but the Maldivian Dhoni has distinctive features that are unique to Maldives. Interestingly, the Kannada word for small boat is Doni and Thoni in Malayaalam, perhaps owing to the trading between the Arabs and Indians. These may have been the most likely influences that named and shaped the Maldivian Dhoni.