In 1979, I destroyed all the art I had created, gave everything I owned away, and began a new life. I sensed an inner and outer world in perfect order. I sensed that I could become a willing participant in that order, and that it allowed for my individual expression and unique contribution. I know now that my participation was conditional on how well I learned to listen and to see the inherent patterns within the natural order I sensed. The return of a physical creative expression came later, after I learned what was required by the inner life. The new life that I gave myself to required unconditional trust and noninterference. I asked for nothing from any human being. I needed to know if there was a God and I risked my life to find that out. I know now that we risk far more when we attempt to create a life devoid of a personal relationship with our God.
I ate when I had food and I fasted when I did not. I accepted whatever came into my life. It was that simple. I was familiar with fasting; I had done it once a week since I was twenty years old. Now, eating became a miracle. At first, I had something of a small following as an artist, and people were still interested in what I did, so they gave to me. Soon it became apparent that I was not going back into art, and many of these people faded from my life. I had a close circle of friends of the spirit who understood what I had given myself to, to some extent. They had their doubts, and so did I. My life was just too much for our modern western mind to consider. Eventually I saw the ways in which the miracle carried my life. I could never have continued this strange and lonely journey if I had not seen that. My joy and my ability to help others were gifts of that miracle and were my only tools for disarming the fears that were inevitably projected onto me. Fielding the fears of others was probably the most difficult task of the new life. I had to confront the fears within myself first. I had to give to others unconditionally and expect nothing in return. This is a society where everything is not enough.
On the surface, I looked like what most of us put all of our energies into avoiding. I became nothing. I had chosen to make an intuitive and conscious leap into the void so I did not have the luxury of asking for sympathy when the journey became frightening or impossible. Even the least intelligent among us would have suggested that I get a job and feed myself. I knew that I did not have that choice. I knew that once I jumped into the vast and empty ocean I saw before me, there was no measure in between that could save me. I would swim or drown. In water up to my neck, no choices and no turning back would be possible. I knew this was real.
In the cyclical rhythm of life, we eventually come up against a profound moment in which we must decide how much faith and courage we are willing to give ourselves to. Most often, in deciding this, we also establish how much courage we will live with for the rest of our lives. This crucial point usually comes to us at around the age of 30. The opportunities at that time are like no other. Only the rare human being can leap into a deeper faith beyond that opportune stage in their life. Usually, if we have not done it under the best of circumstances, when the physical and spiritual winds are at our back, then we rarely find courage or reason enough to do it later in life. However, grace has no limits, and this is not written in stone. Only we know what we do with that moment once it arrives in our life, or where we may have set it to rest. Have we chosen the safe life, its foundation rooted in fear? Or have we chosen the Mystery, in which all may be lost or gained? We have only our inner knowing, and as an external indicator, the miracle, which informs us of the power of our choice. No one can judge, yet everyone intuits our choice by the ways in which it resembles their own.
I tell mostly stories here. The stories lead up to the leap of faith that changed the way I lived my life, and they go beyond into the magic that carried and continues to carry my life. It is the story of the journey full circle, of leaving and returning to the world and to art. I also share what I have discovered and the thought processes involved. The particular point of view from which the stories are told and lived is that of a spiritual seeker and an artist. However detached I may have become from the label “artist,” I never lost sight of art’s essential heartland, and I held a creative vision throughout my journey. My detachment from any particular religious affiliation did not preclude the essential spirituality of the journey. I hold true that the path lived attentively is a sacred path, and that the fundamental spirit of art is alive, well, and deeply esoteric. As does any spiritual path, art has the potential to deliver us into our own true becoming, which is identical to our world’s becoming. Art expresses and defines the deep and collective spirit of our time.
These stories are true. They are based on my attempts to learn the ways of the new life to which I so radically gave myself. I could only sense the form the new life would take. I did not know how to live this life, or if it were even possible. I was inspired by the lives of many great souls about whom I had read, and this helped me. I found courage enough in their stories to initiate and fully accept the challenge of my own calling. However, I did not know their gods; I had only just met my own. I knew very little about how to communicate with these gods or where the communication would take me. I trusted a higher good that I sensed was much better equipped to inform my choices than anything I had available in the limited range of will and intelligence.
These are stories from an edge of reality where I confronted weakness, doubt, and the very good possibility that the human psyche has its limits. Living this way brought fear to the surface, but it also brought the elimination of fear by a kind of Grace. Reason was of very little use in informing the vital decisions I made and ineffective in producing hoped-for results.
Just as I wandered and discovered my way along an unreasonable and unpredictable path, I have wandered and discovered in the amazing process of writing this book—the first I’ve written. As I step into the worldly arena with my story and attempt to put something so ineffable into words, I realize I am fair game. I ask for no mercy. I only pray that my words remain true to the essential source that guides the journey and that they may enliven your own journey. As for the particulars, the shortcomings, and the dross of this creation, I claim them as my own.