Excerpts from my book “Consciously Loving my neighbor as I love mySelf”
From the chapter “Art at the Service of Spirit”
“Sharing my paintings and commentary with you was/is easy, since they address my high ideals. Sharing the behind-the- scenes story of my development as a Heartist was different.
It made me feel a bit more vulnerable.
I’ve struggled for so long to have the ability to acknowledge the beauty of my heart.
And of your heart whoever you are.
So many hearts around/in me are wanting to find a way for their spiritual aspirations and daily work to come together, to serve one another. For most of us this is a troubling area, with no resolution on the horizon. I therefore decided that I would fully share my own story, since it is hardly unique to me alone.
And this doesn’t apply only to artists. The Spirit seeks expression through us in the whole range of human activities, from business to science, from education to agriculture to politics. Whoever we may be, then, and whatever our talents, they can eventually be expressed in the service of Spirit.
The key is knowing; following your heart actively.
*** *** ***
As you could gather from my Introduction, the first part of my life was a bad dream that seemed never-ending. I was born in 1956 to my dear mama in Warsaw, Poland. My father was out of the picture, and he stayed in Poland when the two of us left for Israel to start a new life. Why we needed to get out of Poland, needs no great explanation.
Arriving in Israel as a small child, I submitted, like every child, to the Great Program of Life. Whatever you want to call it, it was a loveless program of rote studying, indoctrination of all kinds from all sides, military duty, studying some more, getting married, and raising three children. As lives go, mine was a very full and active one, which I pursued full tilt with a heart that seemed to know just one thing: that it was suffering. I will spare you the details, because they are insignificant. It is what lies beyond our suffering that is truly significant, that needs to be our focus.
Apart from my family circle, this life I was living consisted of two main strands. One was my oppressive awareness of the grimness of my existence, from which there seemed no escape. The other was my creative life as an artist. It still amazes me that a person in such sad shape as I was, could yet be untiringly artistic and creative. I received a degree in Music, played the flute in a variety of settings, and even tried my hand at composition. And while I enjoyed some success, music was clearly not my deepest passion.
Then one day, while walking on the beach, swimming in an ocean of thoughts about my next possible adventure, I saw a ……..
I’d never even heard of such a thing, but I somehow become an expert in kites – which seemed to me such an amazing meeting place of air, sun, light, and the human spirit. This was an artistic vessel into which I could pour my entire Being.
I was still estranged, though, from that delicious inner warmth I had felt on my high school field trip, which I shared in my Introduction. But I was getting hints and tastes of it.
One experience I will never forget was a ………..
You would think that a person who could conceive of such a remarkable impression would have those same qualities within themselves, no? But if I did have those qualities, they were still deeply buried underground. Inside I remained a desperate mass of loneliness, isolation, self-pity, aggression… realities that all the praise and publicity I received did absolutely nothing to diminish. My divorce at this time represented not just my troubled inner world, but also new forces within me that were crying out to be reborn.
*** *** ***
But despite my little breakthrough at Dieppe, I still lacked a sense of my own spiritual and emotional well-being. My artistic identity was quite strong, but it was still rooted in ambition and fueled by the motive of survival – which is very different from the motive of service to the higher realm of Spirit. This left me feeling like a kite that had one good wing and one bad wing. And a kite like that can only fly in circles.
At this point it was no longer unusual for me to travel, and just before leaving for the Bangkok Kite Festival in Thailand, I encountered a book by the Indian spiritual teacher Osho. I knew at once that this was important. Never one to hesitate, I flew straight to Osho’s ashram in India on my way back from Thailand. There, I was exposed to the variety of meditation techniques that Osho had synthesized from spiritual traditions worldwide. I was not alone in this, as I met people from all over the world who were hungering for exactly the same transformation I was.
This marked the beginning of the end of the unhappy and unreal Yael (My second name). At that time, my main source of inspiration came from reading. When I returned from India, though, I didn’t need to feed my inspiration. I needed to express it. This deep entry into Spiritual work had given me an abundance of creativity. I began, then, to value practice over ideas and philosophy.
I was awakening to a completely new understanding of why I was really born into this world. It was not to suffer and struggle in numb desperation. It was to know who/What I AM, and to know the deeper purpose of my life.
To discover the One who created me.
Applying this message to my daily life became an aim that I set for myself. One way I measure my progress in this is by asking myself to what degree I am able to love my neighbor as myself.
This leads to a second, closely related question, namely: To what degree am I able to love my Self?
At the same time, I continued practicing different active expressive meditation techniques, which later led me to what I consider the “king”
of meditations, namely Vipassana. This too, increased my energy.
I found myself running from project to project, experimenting with new things I never done before. I next went on to aerial design. My idea was to bring the essence of the kite into the huge spaces that are so prominent in modern architecture. This led me to the decoration of aerial spaces in buildings, using specially designed fabrics. Indeed, in Israel I became a pioneer in this regard, as well.
This, in turn, led me to ………..
I no longer had the strength to work in such a strenuous, superficially “artistic” atmosphere. I had become more sensitive and vulnerable to things that were more delicate and refined – both inside and outside of me.
I knew that I was at a crossroads. I took my first course in Vippassana meditation just before I flew to Mother India for three months, “in search of the miraculous.” It was there that I was given the spiritual name “Anicca”; in the language that the Buddha spoke, this means “impermanence. My sincere adoption of this name lent a new sense of scale and purpose to my life. Indeed, this was a turning point in my personal transformation. Three months in India: resting, no pressure from time, no guilt for simply relaxing and breathing the beauty of the inner Himalayas… A major shift in consciousness took place. I was no longer the same person.
*** *** ***
Upon my return, I discovered the wonderful art of painting. This was perfectly ……….
Although sculptures were wonderfully lucrative, at that time I clearly preferred …………
Although I felt fear, self- deprecation and judgment, I never doubted …………
For several years after I “discovered” painting, I found myself engaged in a remarkable process of self-discovery as a result of my disciplined application to Vipassana meditation., This also prepared me to seriously engage the teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, which present a very realistic and challenging perspective of spiritual life. The wonderful fruit of this study was that the many understandings that had been growing in me since Dieppe were welded into a more unified whole. This brought a new integrity to my efforts, as it helped me to channel my disorganized yearnings into a single, fruitful direction.
Strange to say, at this same time my art went through a prolonged dry spell. Why was this so? Along with these great spiritual teachers I was also discovering the great Masters of Art: Leonardo, Rembrandt, Fra Angelico… Compared to their towering achievement and sublime expression, who was I? Compared to them, what could “little” Anicca possibly have to say of significance? This low self-esteem that emerged gave birth to a disappointing period in which I did not produce a single brush stroke.
My paintings had always found buyers, but now, ………
One day I received a commission to produce a ……………..
During this dry spell, I was also learning a way to work on myself that provided me with a new companion, namely my continual “response-ability” to the present moment. I call it “response-ability” because Spiritual life is just that way. Every moment, every second in fact, we are called upon to Do something. The biggest thing we need to Do is to Be Present and Love what is actually happening within us, and “outside of us”. And by Being Present, right actions flow from us naturally.
Given the many wayward sides of our humanity, this means working with our wandering mind, our confused emotions, our reactivity, and our attachments, all the time striving to grip and regrip the moment – and never let go.
*** *** ***
In 2003, after a silence of 20 years, I took up the flute again…………
Ironically, it was in the United States that I met the inner side of the Kabbalah, …………….
From that time forward, the way became ever more clear for me. Deeply imbued with teachings from different spiritual traditions, I began to depict on canvas the insights I received through my inner work. The Biblical stories to which I was attracted then exposed their simple hidden messages through my own personal experience. It was thus that I gradually became a painter of Biblical, or in a larger sense, Spiritual themes.
My art became a meaningful, authentic expression of a Universal Heritage that awakens the Heart. And it reflects my deep-seated passion for contributing to the peace, healing, and unity of the world in these times of separation and conflict. In addition to raising the level of my consciousness. I learned how to communicate with myself – with my heart and the people around me My fellow hearts in a new way. My tendency to sometimes use words violently, which is so widespread in our society, was transformed into speaking the non-violent, gentle language of the heart.
I am a breathing Heart that wants to communicate with you other breathing Hearts.
After all, we are all one big Heart. We just don’t know it…yet.
*** *** ***
I currently live in the mountain foothills of northern Israel, surrounded by my paintings, which are a constant reminder of the beautiful place that I AM in. It is a labor of Love for me now to take up my brush, to move with the colors, and to put my joys and my struggles and insights on canvas. More recently, I have also begun to speak about my paintings in video clips that I create on my YouTube channel (YaYa – the Heartist). I’ve even begun to sculpt the frames of my pictures; you can see examples of this on my website.
Today, I have a fresh feeling for the interdependence of the wonderful teachings I’ve encountered on my path and have integrated, and feel that it is time for me now to share what I have gained.
I AM the Heart of my heart, and knowing this, I feel myself to be a “Heartist”.
The Israeli version of a Heartist is a Rabi.
When we all realize that in truth, we all share one big Heart, we will begin to experience true happiness and unity.
In December 2013 I received an O-1 visa from the United States, which designates an artist of extraordinary ability. This allows me to remain in the U.S. in order to share my vision and sell my art, which feels like a wonderful form of approval and blessing combined.
I know now that life is a Spiritual event, and that to bend our knee in that direction, every day, with whatever our talents may be, in service to our highest ideals, is the true occupation of an Adam- to-be.
And so… I paint my paintings of “the message”, and I write my little commentaries…
Each one of my Biblical oriented paintings is the fruit of my personal experience in trying to fully feel, sense, and understand what the Biblical sages meant when they wrote their profound texts. My wish is for you to receive the inner spiritual meaning of these texts by the simple act of contemplating the paintings, and breathing them deep inside you.
On June 2015 I came back to my homeland Israel after living for 7 years in CA.
7 years of Chamber music performances, Studying, Painting and Breathing have ended and Now I live and create in Israel.
Neshima – Neshama נשמה – נשימה is the new Israeli vessel to share my Breathing Teaching that soon will be manifested.
And so I bid you farewell, for now, my dear fellow Heartists/Heart Breathers. I hope to meet you all inside my Heart.”