Awakin Calls » Germán Herrera » Transcript
Germán Herrera: Self-Knowledge and Transformation Through Art
Theme: Self-knowledge and Transformation Through Art
Guest: Germán Herrera
Host: Bela Shah
Moderator: Anne Veh
Bela: Today our special guest speaker is none other than Germán Herrera, and someone who really embodies today's theme of self-knowledge and transformation through art. Thanks again for joining today's call. Let's go ahead and start with a minute of silence to anchor ourselves. (silence)
As I mentioned earlier, this week's theme is self-knowledge and transformation through art. Is art part of spiritual practice or tool for self-knowledge and internal change? Having experiences with art helps you uncover hidden parts of your conscious or unconscious mind, or your deepest yearning? Can you recall a transformational moment while experiencing art? Since we have the pleasure to have our remarkable moderator who is an artist herself, Anne Veh, we can ask Anne to kick off our circle. Just want to give everyone on the call a little context about Anne. She's been with ServiceSpace ecosystem forever, ever since I've known Anne. She really embodies what you can experience through even small work of art. In my kitchen, I have a knitted beautiful thing that Anne made a year or two ago. I feel Anne has constantly put so much labor of love into the small works of art that I see pop up in different people's homes, in the ecosystem, with the Anne Veh touch to it. Anne is also a curator herself. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this morning's theme.
Anne: Thank you Bela. I am so blessed to be on the call this morning with you and Germán. What came to me immediately is the experience (I had) around art being the vehicle to touch deep parts of ourselves. I was in a poetry class with four dear friends on top of Mt. Tam. Poetry is scary for me. I remember the teacher asked us to do a free write to begin a poem. What came to my mind was my niece who is a teenager now. She is on the autistic spectrum, so she has a very hard time communicating through words. We always have a very special relationship. I found myself writing a poem about Clair. It was so beautiful. It took me to a place that surprised me. What was it like before we became human beings? What hands crafted this beautiful soul to be in this lifetime with me? This morning I feel so lucky to be in conversation with Germán because he is someone who deeply touches me with his presence in a very profound way. It's not something that you could articulate like poetry (laugh).
Bela: I also resonate with what you shared about poetry, and the transformational experience that you could go through in writing. The human experience can be so complex. Though I said writing could be a transformational outlet, I often feel words created by humans are limited in their capacity to capture the human experiences. In some moments of my life, I experience something that's almost to the level of being cathartic. I have the urge to share it with those who are dear to me, but also with the world. I am so grateful for those moments of weaving together the right words or maybe even creating a painting through colors that can really embody those transformational human experiences. I am so grateful for artists like you and Germán, sort of like the messengers of the experiences through the art that you create. I am so excited to hear about Germán's journey.
Anne: Thank you Bela. In our beautiful community, we are so blessed with special souls who pursue their special calling in many different ways. Germán is one such being, who uses the medium of art and photography. His art is so much more than his photography, incorporating all senses and sensibilities. He draws from that to answer the fundamental question of human existence: Who am I? In this call, we'll get inside into Germán's journey and really step away with wisdom that we can integrate in our own lives. I also want to share that today is a special day. It's Germán's birthday. He is giving us this beautiful present on the day his mother brought him into this world. I'd like to extend my gratitude for Germán to share deeply with us and gift us this time and space with him.
Bela: Thanks for sharing that with all of us. I'd love to wish Germán happy birthday with everybody else later in the conversation.
Germán: For the sake of clarity, my birthday was actually yesterday. Today is the first day of this new year. It's equally important to me.
Anne: Germán is the first of five siblings in a family of psychologists. Germán inherited his love for photography from his maternal grandfather and an interest in music from his father and maternal grandmother. In 1978 he traveled to California from his homeland of Mexico to study photography. But he left art school after two years and traveled back to his homeland to pursue Afro Cuban drumming. It was in 1980. For the next decade, Germán didn't practice art in the sense of making art. It was a period of quiet, a space of people listening, and hibernation, so to speak, before a new body of work emerged. As an artist, it was not a conscious choice, but deep listening was what Germán deeply honored. He referred to himself as being self-taught.
Germán and I met seven or eight years ago in our gallery. He happened to be in the gallery to show the owner the portfolio of his work, and I just happened to be there working on a project. The owner of the gallery, a friend of mine, said "Anne, please join us. I would like you to see Germán's work too." I remember so distinctively that moment when he came in and opened his portfolio, I was so moved by his presence. I remember thinking that I would love to collaborate with him. I was just so deeply moved. When he started to share the images and the portfolio, I was in that space of wow, so deeply touched. It was hard to articulate what I was feeling. For me, it was a very special experience. But it wasn't until four or five years later when we connected and deepened our friendship. Unlike the first meeting, the timing was right. Germán and I had this beautiful opportunity to really spend time together and get to know each other. I trusted these opportunities.
We had many conversations that eventually led us to ServiceSpace. I was excited to introduce Germán to Richard Whittaker, who is also a photographer. He was so moved by Germán's work that he featured a portfolio of his images in our Works and Conversations issue. Richard also encouraged Germán to attend a Wednesday. Now he is very much a regular, and a very integral part of the ServiceSpace community, always gifting in quiet ways. He edits the sound for our Awakin calls. Anything he touches adds beauty. I'd like to thank Germán again for this opportunity.
I am so moved this morning to share something that happened between us in the last two days (while) having conversations in preparing for our call today. I texted him and he texted me back with this image of an incredibly gorgeous deer, a male deer with large antlers. He had this profound beautiful look, with serenity in his eyes. Very powerful. I texted back "Wow! Powerful animal medicine." Later when we spoke that evening, I shared that I was so moved by that image. He said, oh, I was just going to walk out of the door, and there he was. The opportunities of these moments are really gifts. Germán was able to share that. As I shared my experience with him, it just got deeper and deeper. I shared with him that evening that the power of the deer medicine was symbolized as gentleness and innocence, and returning to the wilderness. In the book of Animal Speak, it talks about how antlers are symbols of antenna, and their connections to higher forms. Antler can be a signal to pay attention to your inner thought with perception. That's the essence of Germán when you step into this presence with him, whether it's on the phone or in a text, or in person, you enter a space that is really sacred. He meets you at such a deep place. It's very rare for that to happen to a human being. I just want to honor that so much with you, Germán.
Germán: Thank you so much. It's an amazing introduction. Very sensitive and touching. And I also want to thank Bela to be present here, to ServiceSpace for hosting these calls that are incredible windows into wise and inspiring people. I feel very honored to be one of those guests today.
Anne: I wonder, Germán, that being an artist, coming from Mexico, what home means to you?
Germán: Home. I have to backtrack a little bit. The last show I did, which was last December, I actually titled it Home. That show I considered my most important body of work. I worked for about ten years more or less, then I did this project in Spain that summarized that form of working that's encapsulated into an experience that made me feel that something was complete. Since then, I have been taken by very simple themes around home, light and walls, and a bee dying, for example. I just started recording these moments. That's what the show ended up being, which is called home. It was a very touching moment of my everyday life, touching the whole drama of life, the tragedy of a small death like an ant, and the joy of making events that are mainly made of care of light, painting a wall, or my cat looking at me. Home to me, it's a notion that I feel I've been taken or guided by life to explore as an internal space. Some set of conditions that can be invited, or can be recognized. The more we invite them, the more we recognize that home can be anywhere in a way. We can make home by making peace with ourselves, by learning about ourselves, sort of going inside a little bit. When it is not home, it starts being more foreign in a way. It's like a way of coming to rescue you. I don't know if this makes sense.
Anne: Yeah. This is just to provide a little more context for the caller. Germán, your artwork takes so many different dimensions. If we go to your website, there are beautiful installations that you've done over the years. The one you just alluded to, which was in Spain, was an installation that you did in the nave of a church. It's called silence as point of departure. What I loved about your approach is the sense of being in the space of a church and not knowing exactly what the end result was going to be, but in your process, realizing, wow, what I am creating is akin to what it feels like to be in a sitting meditation. I wasn't in Spain to experience that in person. But I could sense so deeply through the images and the sound that you shared of documenting the process. It was extraordinary. It stayed with me ever since because it's so hard to find words to share what it feels like to be in that internal space. But even in your photography, I feel what you share visually opens up the invisible. You can walk on those (two) grounds so easily, and invite others through your artwork to inhabit those (grounds) as well.
Germán: There is something to be said about the connection between the two and the walking between the two. It took a while to somehow access. I have to mention a little bit of my story. By the way, these are not meant to be my ideas, more like ideas. What I am sharing is really my journey and how these ideas have become true for me. When I came to this country, as a result of meeting my wife in 1992, I was quite lost. I had been doing commercial photography for a while, finding that medium quickly foreign to me. I left Mexico and met my wife, and we came to this country. For a good couple of years, I had to figure out who I was, what I was doing here. In the process I was very insecure about what I had to offer to society. So I did other stuff. I did construction, made carpet, and worked at a print shop, and at the time, without thinking too much about the steps of my life. It was difficult for me to relate to the work that Joseph Campbell talks about. I realized that I had to go back to do that kind of work because my upbringing had been pretty sheltered, and there was something in me that had to go back there and experience more life hardships.
Move another ten years forward, my need for somehow working therapeutically on these components of my psyche, my psychology background, my father, my mother, my siblings, who are related to psychology, I hadn't had a chance to explore in the States. Finally, around early 1998, I was able to afford to see a therapist, exploring these pretty dark spaces. The concept of the shadow as being very important part of creativity became relevant. But at the time, it felt like something very difficult, dark, frustrating, and sad, and I thought it was not going to end ever.
Interestingly enough, by 2000, I found myself buying a digital camera and starting to play with images that dealt with darkness. I started accepting why I wanted to photograph, just playing with it, like kids would play with dolls. Just putting two images together to see what came up. The theme of home seems to string it all. Accepting that space was a really dark and difficult one was a very important part of me. I was already touching bottom, and coming out for her (my wife) was the next thing that took place. I need to process that (which) hasn't ended. It really helped me, touching bottom in that moment. John Malloy said that our strength comes from the darkness, from the shadow material. In fact, many art school these days do not explore, the psychological component of art making, an intrinsic part of the process. Young people who are trying to find their identities, and create art that looks like art. It doesn't relate directly to themselves. It just becomes what young artists would do, something that is different, that is upside down.
Anne: That's such a beautiful example of surrender. It isn't easy to surrender. In our lives, we go through layers and layers of surrendering. It takes so much courage to touch those deep places. That could feel like touching terror. Without touching them, I don't think we realize how ? we are. Then the light came through. That's what I see in your imagery that there is light shining through the cracks. That's the beauty of human experiences, that richness. When I think back even my own childhood, I don't think I really felt home here. There was a lot of sadness. My refuge with nature was the garden. I didn't think of it until now. I think we just went through time of our life with patience, and we wait for the opportunity where we can explore that deeper, and have the courage to go deeper and deeper. One thing that really moved me was that you wrote, being an artist, I consider myself a migrant, a very fortunate one. My main reason for migrating was love. In a way we can all be seen as migrants, moving from the unknown into the known, from the need to control to the notion of surrender. What touched me the most was that your search is held in the space of love. I don't know if you would like to share a little bit about that. But that really moved me.
Germán: I feel I've been very lucky in my life. Once Steve Jobs said that it was very hard to see where we are going from the present, but in hindsight, you can see how you touch things throughout your life, why you were interested in this or that, why you went to this place, what you got from that, you can see clearly the guided journey that you embarked on without realizing it. What he said in the commencement speech to the Stanford students was really beautiful. He invited them to trust that voice that takes you wherever, even when it doesn't make any sense. I was lucky enough to trust that voice. When I went to India in 1992, I never thought I would come back to Mexico where I considered my home. Meeting Nayana has been a very important anchor in my experience of life. It couldn't have happened without her. I feel definitely that being in a relationship makes you not being the center of the universe. You stopped moving like a unit, and your ego is not the most important part. The strongest lesson is to identify with that little voice, that little you, prompting a tantrum when something doesn't go your way. But separation is not a possibility. You have to stay in relationship. To me, that's how I experience love. Coming to love myself, feeling more compassionate with the one that having a hard time adapting to a foreign country. I continue to explore that. To ServiceSpace particularly, I feel that empathy towards myself is something that will expand and become more empathy towards others. That's definitely one of my personal journeys. How to feel more about other people? What are they doing? Being more compassionate.
I used to be a hardened boy. I can see that. Sometimes I am harsh with myself, and that manifests in my way of relating to other people outside. That's part of my learning. But ultimately, it's really about love. Then when the art showed up, I just started falling love with those pieces that were puzzles to me. Many of them, up to today, I can't really tell you in words what they are about. But I know when I finished them, I ended up collaging them and managing those images to what they wanted to be themselves. I knew they were finished. When I looked at them, I would be like "God, this is really me, but it's a very strange me." With these elements, what is this renaissance like ? that I may have borrowed from a painting. Why is it there? Why is that meaningful to me? These are the kind of questions that Rilke invites you to explore. Learning to live with those questions at the same time loving them. Just love that process of self-compilation. To do that in the company of somebody who is willing to support you is all I know.
Anne: I've been very struck by your relationship with Nayana, and how you hold each other so beautifully. It's quite amazing in marriages when two souls come together from very different journeys. But here you are, having a life together. I think of that a lot in my own family with a husband and two children. Here we are together on this journey. Now we are married for 21 years. When I think back, the struggles were the gifts. To have that power to be able to see and come through it is so beautiful. I am in awe. Wow. Look where we are now, (after) going in and out of these different phases, but to be in a relationship and to trust that, I think, is quite an extraordinary experience. Something I want to explore with you is around this idea of wilderness. Where is that place where we human beings separate ourselves from nature, and we are finding our way back home. Germán, the beautiful exchange around the deer you shared with me that you actually live in a home that is close to nature. You feel blessed to have that wilderness outside your door. In a metaphorical sense, what does that wilderness mean to you? How does it speak to you?
Germán: Wilderness to me is the possibility of having contact with the same deer that showed up at my window right now. The deer was here yesterday, and here this morning. He was just walking by. To me, this is very magical which is happening right now. The meaning that came from the book Animal Speak that you shared with me, right now is listening to myself, listening to the guiding voice, and the voice having been guiding me without me giving it full credit for that. I thought that I was stumbling, and only came to realize that I was just following that all along. I've always wanted to know more about wilderness. I grew up in Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world. We had trees in the street where I grew up.
But the idea of wilderness as something that would not be threatening, something that would be completely accommodating and embracing you in safety, the idea of wilderness not being the threat that we have always come to believe that it is, I think, that's my next step. In fact, there is no enemy, there is nothing to fear out there, as long as you are in connection with your internal voice, with yourself, and you are in connection with God. I think I shied away from using that word in my life because I was brought up as catholic, but have the good fortune of having both parents as seekers. My father guided my mother to a sufi practice for the last almost 18 years of his life and that's still present in my mother's life. That allowed me to explore other stuff that I would always be grateful for the example in terms of going to the unknown, to what is non-conforming to a ? (43:52), to maybe living behind an entire group of people that you no longer have something to exchange with. Step into the wilderness.
Anne: What arises for me too is that the opportunity that the deer is presenting is an invitation to step into our primal knowing. The wisdom is within us, but we forget. Maybe we don't know how to tap into it. Silence is one vehicle to tap into it. While being in nature, you can really slow down and the deer appears. If you sit anywhere in nature just for an hour quietly, it's amazing what animals come to you in that space. That's an opportunity to connect to that specific aspect of ourselves that the animals are sharing with us, if we can be in a relationship with them. Sitting at the base of a tree, being able to feel the roots, feeling the ancient wisdom, just let go, and see what arises.
Germán: We can take that reverence that we have for the tree and bring it back to our co-workers, and the relationship here with my wife, with my cat. When I go out in the street, it's not different. The problem is that all these conditionings come in where we get completely blinded by ? (46:13) and what we have been learning our whole life, this need for belonging, for feeling safe. When somebody comes to you with a feeling of something that doesn't feel so good, you have the potential and capability to shift that around, instead of running with emotions of feeling offended or stepped on. Eventually when you see things like that, when you somehow manage to feel that tree or that deer, all kinds of different forms, are humans. It's difficult because we humans go into our programming, and it's hard not to let them take over.
Anne: I'm just bringing back John Malloy's wisdom. When he worked for the children, he would look at each individual in the circle and really honor that you are an original medicine, each one of you. We all have unique eyes. We all have our own medicine. When approached in the street, we have the opportunity to feel the negativity, something that's very uncomfortable to embrace. What is the medicine for me in this situation? I try to think about that a lot when I am really uncomfortable. Why am I still uncomfortable? It makes me realize that, as a parent, I can hold that space for my children to step into a generation of becoming elders. How can we really support our children and offer them the tool so they will feel that safety? This is a beautiful opportunity for us to share these gifts. As what we talked about the other day, Germán, before we get to the kindergarten, you are so connected to everything around you. There is no separation. Then when you start school, all these changes happen, we start to forget, and we disconnect more. Are there ways, whether it's an art practice, or silence, or whatever it is, to really encourage our children to have that quiet, slowing down time? So they can handle the complexity of life because it is getting more and more complex.
Germán: I think you are touching on a very important point because, I can't remember who said that quote, "to be yourself in a world that day and night relentlessly wants you to be somebody else is one of the hardest things that we could ever accomplish." Unconsciously, there is one part of me that's really longing for that internal peace that you can be honest with yourself and accept yourself the way you are. But this idea of all the normative mechanisms that condition our feelings that we belong to society, to a group, to a religious group, to a school, how can you be part of the group of the boys, instead of being an outsider which I always felt like an outsider pretty much everywhere I went. I was too girly. I don't know. Sensitive or whatever. I think that kids are growing older. We chose not to have kids, so that experience is something that I would yet live in another lifetime, but I can feel now that my offering to somebody younger than me would be to try to just hold space. John Malloy seems to be all over the place and hold space for them to do whatever they have to do, with them knowing you are there behind them no matter what. I think that's a beautiful notion.
Anne: That's love.
While we are waiting for questions, I want to ask you who inspires you and what inspires you at this time?
Germán: I am really inspired by a lot of what goes on in this ServiceSpace community, or what I learned through this ServiceSpace community. So many people in the world are doing amazing work and hearing this call to heal with a different light than what we're being sold by the media. The revolution that will not be televised keeps coming up for me, but I feel there is a tsunami that's taking place with groups like ServiceSpace and so many others in the world that are doing things for the earth, for each other, and to help heal each other in a more loving light. Every time when I see an act of kindness in the street, I am about to see them more because I realize that not only there is a need for that, but just to hold that in my mind has effect on the world outside. It makes the segue in this direction.
Physics, more than chemistry or biology, has been able to accommodate many more new ways of seeing. Many scientists are allowing us to see more of the reality on the different light and helping us realize that our thoughts do have effects on everything around us. The power of thoughts is just... We are divine beings. We just need to get there, of course, the biggest question ever. When it comes to feeling negative, we have to somehow realize that whether we are to take responsibility for every one of our thoughts, how we interact with the world, what we are offering, what we walk out into the world offering with our stance, with our smile or no smile, with our sheltered or armored attitude, or completely lack of it, is changing the world. To be reminded of that is the greatest gift for me right now because we always have a choice. If you want to have a great day, you can have a great day. You can also have a horrible day. The key is to realize that it's somehow in your hands or your mind to get closer to this possibility.
Anne: Very much so.
Barco (email from Mexico): Casting light into shadow creates ? (57:04) makes us known and unknown. There was also wild ? (57:14) as your work has surely shown. How much is premeditated? How much is the surprise in your final result?
Germán: Barco is my dear cousin. You got it right. Looking into darkness... (57:46) to the light. That expression is priceless. The reward is incredible because it's like your nature gets revealed by the illustration that you take into everything you are, both sides of the same token. To me it's priceless. My life would never have been the same without these experiences. I don't want to talk about the body of work, because that is going disappear. That part won't last, but what is really lasting for me is the transformation that has enabled me to take as a result of that expression. Almost the artwork is the byproduct of the need to communicate or to share that journey. That's how I see it.
Bela: Before I go to the queue, I want to share gratitude from Nina Martina from Mexico. She says thank you for your invitation, for being true to ourselves, and the practice of service and generosity for the earth and our fellow human beings.
Germán: Thank you. That's my mother, by the way. Thank you, mommy. You are very much appreciated. You are a big part of that.
Pallavi: First of all, I'd like to thank Anne for all the beautiful things you brought up. And Germán I'd like to also thank you for who you are. I can feel you on the call. Everything you said is exquisite. I have a lot of questions that I might jump back again at the end of the line. One thing that comes up for me right now is that you are floating between the unknown and the known, speaking about the connection to the shadow. So my question is, as an artist, as a creator, as a human being, as you in this space of known and unknown, do you still have desires?
Germán: Yes, definitely. The nature of desire is taking a very different tone for me because I am not looking for another show. In fact, I haven't been photographing that much. I think the last time when I stopped producing anything that looked like art, it took about 10 years to come back. Not Identifying so much with the one that I have been is very important for me. My desire is changing. It is shifting into a desire for being more of service, of giving back, of cheering who I am, through art or else, but it's not the desire I used to have when I desired to sell a lot of my work, to be able to feel rich or this or that. But it comes from the place of much deeper desire, if that makes sense. Desire of becoming, I guess.
Bela: Germán, I feel that there are many hearts bursting. Our callers that are part of this conversation are people who are listening to the live stream. My heart definitely feels stunned into silence right now. Thank you.
Anne (from California): I am an artist. I am so inspired by what I have been feeling and hearing. Part of this was in preparation for this call. I realized yesterday that I would like to be part of this. I planned for this. I went to bed last night at six o'clock, just allowing that private time in that private space I felt so renewed. And being part of this conversation and to hear and feel what I heard this morning is affirming. I am just so grateful for being able to hear this and be part of this. Thank you so much!
Germán: Your call touches me, Anne. Thanks so much for calling.
Bela: Thanks for bringing your presence into this space, Anne. The other Anne, what do you think?
Anne: I was going to also share gratitude because what was raised in this conversation is such a co-created space, so even though callers are at their homes all over the world, whatever comes up comes up because of all of our presence. And I feel that is such a beautiful space to enter and I am so grateful for the Awakin call for that opportunity.
Bela (on behalf of Kozo): Thanks Germán for being a role model for me, and you mentioned that you always were on the outside as being a boy, you also mentioned John Malloy a number of times, can you talk about gender and love? What does it mean to be a loving and compassionate man? Who were your role models to become this loving and compassionate man?
Germán: Thank you, Kozo. Thanks for bringing that up. I think that's a very important aspect of my journey. I have to say there is a man, Bill Say, somebody that I worked with. The therapies that allowed me and helped me to work through issues that I mentioned earlier, and later on, I did a two-year training with him. So altogether I worked with Bill for five years. He is somebody who didn't have any issues going into the sense of the whirlwind and being consumed by big questions and showing you that he was really having a ? time (67:38). To me, that is very valuable. He taught me that I could ask for help from this space of power, and that I didn't have to feel devastated. To ask for help, but I could do that from the space of dignity, self-love, and surrender. When asked who have inspired me, I realized that there are so many who have inspired me and I feel I should name them all. But Bill Say comes to my mind because he really touched my heart. He was like a really clear example for me of what that looks like. I feel that in turn I can offer that to others, even though I haven't had that many opportunities. But he made it possible for me to pass it on. I hope that I've answered your question, Kozo.
Bela: I would also like to ask a larger question. Germán, I read your bio on the Awakin Call page and it talks about the spiritual journey that your experienced in Pune in India. Could you share a little bit about what brought you to Pune and what experiences there had created a shift for you?
Germán: When my life started completely dissolving in Mexico City, I realized that I needed to go some place else. At the time, I had a very dear friend of mine who had been in the Osho Rajneesh Ashram for many years. He left Mexico way early, a wonderful pilgrim, that's how I can describe Rupesh. We grew up together; we made music together. He was an incredible human being. I was going to find my friend who had set the example for me. I wanted what he got. When I got there, as life could do it, one lesson after another, it was not an easy experience for me.
But eventually, about three months into it, I saw this woman I just felt completely attracted to. I went to talk to her and told her that. She walked away happy that I had done that. She said thank you. Then the next day she touched me on the shoulder and asked me, "Are you Germán?" I went like "Yes, but how did you know my name?" She said, "Well Rupesh told me that you are in town. If you remember, you and I met in Mexico City 10 years ago." It dawned on me that she was the ex-wife of somebody that I actually grew up with and who also knew my friend Rupesh, who came to Mexico City to visit my friend, her husband. I remember it was very hard for me. I felt the same thing that I felt in Pune ten years before. It was amazing for me to realize that she wasn't in the same place in Pune. Moving forward about four months we are in a relationship. We spent two months together and then came to this country. It's been 22 years now. That's the largest part of what happened to me in Pune.
Obviously, the whole setting of learning about medication, just being in touch with all this knowledge that the ashram had to offer was amazing. It changed my life with all these possibilities that were not possibilities for me when I was in Mexico City. Coming in touch with the Indian culture now through ServiceSpace, I continue to be fed and nourished. I am sure I was in India in my previous lifetime or two.
Bela: Thanks for sharing a little bit about your journey. It's hard for me to form these questions because they are much bigger topics. But earlier in the conversation you said that this is more than chemistry or biology and has been able to accommodate the new way of seeing the world. It allows you to see the reality a different way and realize the power of the thought. Can you expand on that more? How did you work towards cultivating your thoughts in a different way?
Germán: I guess the idea of the mind over matter has always fascinated me, in a way (like) the model of computer and software. We are the hardware, and software is our beliefs and our emotional patterns, particularly related to survival and belonging. It made me try to look at them first. Why am I feeling this? What are these reminded me of? If we ask that enough because there are frequently spaces that don't make much sense. Why do I react to my wife? Investigating that was always interesting to me. It started becoming if I learn more about the process. I have to watch these things happen, what the mind is sending me because he is not so ? (75:29) all the time. It's just conditioning.
I started learning more. Everything that I read about physics normally just goes over my head so much, but something stays. Some of these researchers, wonderful scientists, can call it God. It sounds like what I would call God. The fact that these people have the courage to talk about these things in a world that were petitioning. After the character has been trained to make everything run through that ringer that it's impossible, that model no longer works. The reason why biology and chemistry have stayed behind, I think, is because there is a lot of created interest out there in how allopathy treats people where it's clear that this more mechanistic way of understanding the body is the best. The body is so much more than what the molecules would do with certain chemical. The world of chemistry and biology seems to still be in such an old place in comparison to physics. It's all about medication. There is a wonderful aspect to contemporary allopathic medicine in particular traumatic situation, or being operated on, that I completely realized what the place for medicine is today. And frankly, if I may just say one more thing. Obviously, there are so many cultures in the world, so many people in the world that benefit from allopathic medicine. It's time for the expansion of that notion that would benefit more and more by Homeopathy, Naturopathy, and Chinese medicine, and trying to weave it all together into a model of healing that would encompass the power of thought. That's what comes to mind.
Anne: Beautiful question, Bela. And also Kozo's question keeps arising back into my heart. Who are those examples of being loving and compassion men? What I'm also experiencing at this time through the gift of ServiceSpace is the practice of kindness and the practice of noble friendship in terms of really showing up for another being on their journeys. I found that gender seems to disappear. We are showing up as human beings. I even see it in the kindness circle that we have been holding in high school where we were in the circle that there is no male female gender saying, except we are all in this together. It's so beautiful because I feel that it's kind of how we might think in the mind but really it's human beings. It doesn't matter. In the practice of kindness and generosity, all of that just falls away. It's quite beautiful. There is your beautiful soul.
Germán: So true Anne.
Bela: I am still thinking about what Anne said about the power of noble friendship, and the practice of really showing up for that person and their journey. It's incredible to have that, and have people like you, Germán, Kozo, and Anne. For me, teachers are role models for how to show up as a noble friend.
Mish: Hi Germán, this is Mish from Brooklyn. We recently spent time together in Bolinas. How are you today?
Germán: Well, thank you. So good to hear your voice.
Mish: I don't have a question. I just want to share with you how wonderful it's been to hear your voice and to hear your journey, and express great appreciation and gratitude for you. Also my friend Mindy told me to say hello to you for her so I had to do that; otherwise, she would get very mad at me. It's just been so wonderful to hear your voice, and your presence at the retreat was one of beautiful gentleness. It stays with me. Here's the belated birthday hug from me to you, and bless you.
Germán: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Blessings to you both as well.
Mish: OK. Sending love.
Pallavi: It seems like the whole world could be put into this capsule of this call. Feeling the whole world is contained in this space. The question that has been showing up, Germán, is what you have to say about psychology and creativity. I still haven't figured out how the self shows up in the art that you create. One thing I observed over and over again is that a lot of artists who do portraits and sculptures think they are creating different people, but to any outsider, it is always their own face. If you point that to them, they will not accept it. Would you actually see whether they are just male, female, an older person, a younger person? If I see these sculptures of all these forms all have their own faces, I wonder (if) knowledge could exist in the shadow and what you might have to say about that.
Germán: I think what you are alluding to is something that is reflecting the self-referenced nature of a lot of art today, but at a very surface level. We are taught that art schools are starting to teach to master this technique to render a result. But I don't have much experience with art school. My feeling is that the psychological processes, the model of creativity, is very deep on your taking that not too many people are encouraged to take because it can feel like a complete whirlwind that you won't ever survive. In a way, the only thing I can suggest is to befriend your fears, go there, get lost in the most horrible thing. If you feel like writing horrible things about the world, get into it, do it every morning, do it a lot, and just see what comes out of that. If you are not done yet, keep doing it. This fear of getting lost is that who we are is to possibly get lost in that process. In a way, it connects with the quote that I seem to quote a lot, 'the more individual the search, the more universal it becomes.' If you are truly honest to all of your beliefs, your anger, what makes you feel sad, no matter what, it's your experience. If you honor every one of those that make you feel emotionally, maybe anger, or grief. Those are doors. For them to really become doors, you have to be willing to get into it. For a while, you may not see the answer. So it's definitely a matter of courage, of trusting. That process will take you where you have to go. But you have to go there. Just challenge yourselves to experience that.
Anne: It's such a beautiful sharing, and I had such an experience. I am not a painter. I was trying to express something, so I took out a canvas and started painting. When I painted, it really scared me. I remembered I just hid it away. I can't even look at that. Every time I was invited to a birthday, an event with a friend, we went to do this spontaneous painting in this studio, which held in a beautiful space of such love, and I started intuitively. I painted again. I kept painting the same exact painting. It kept coming and coming. This time it kind of became a channel, a doorway, from one place to another. It's so beautiful to realize that I couldn't have gone through that until I really met with my fear. So I am really touched by your ability to share that because it is a beautiful door and many times we are afraid to walk through them. But when we do, that's when the light comes through.
Pallavi: Another experience I want to share is that for years, being an artist, I am not doing it permanently, whatever I made would just come, I had no control over it. I used to like dark Raku pottery. I don't know how many of you are familiar with Raku pottery. It's a Japanese technique. It's dark and.. it's beautiful, but a lot of the background is black. As I walk on, clearing my shadow, the darkness, one day a couple years ago, I got a deep ? (88:59) of light. It was more of a sign that my art would change. It's an indication that my taste would change. It came about by dissolving the darkness. Now I found myself from just the color black to the color white. I haven't yet figured out my new taste, so I am living in this beautiful land of I don't know my taste any more. I feel shadow is really important, somehow mysterious, that you are complete blind to it. I am really grateful that this comes out as the output for us to think about it. Thank you!
Germán: This is the shadow that keeps coming through. I wondered many times how monks deal with these psychological material without this makeup that seems to be a human condition. This is humanity. There are stories that validate this model of coming out from the ashes. But first you have to get to the ashes. I believe that the shadow is just in transit. Going back to the monks, I am sure if you sit, and sit, and sit, for a lifetime, eventually, those patterns of all that makeup are going to transform, because that's the power of transformation, the power of meditation, but most of us are not monks, and that training is also very intense training, not for everybody. My question got answered to me. Probably the only way to transform is by just really diving into it, But it was a lot easier said than done. I am still working through it. There is no way that for it ever been done. But by now, it's like I can look at a lot of pieces. If you look at what I've done in those 10 years, there was a lot of darkness there; but you know what, I am very proud of it. It's incredible. Barco, my cousin, who emailed earlier, has (written) amazing poetry, full of darkness. I admire people who have the courage to dive into that, because that's where life lives, that's where the light lit.
Bela: Balavie, thank you for bringing this question and dialogue, and leading that. Germán, is it OK if we ask you just one more question?
Germán: Of course, I have all the time in the world.
Bela: We want to ask you how we can support your journey, the larger ServiceSpace community, how can we serve your journey?
Germán: I am going to quote Jacob Needleman, just by doing what you do by being part of ServiceSpace, by touching people's lives the way you guys do it, the way we do it. I am including myself, because I feel I belong there. It's an amazing effort that continues... Nipun, Guri... It's incredible what has been formed around these, and the only thing that I can think of is to keep doing what you are doing. It's beautiful.
Bela: I am inspired to keep doing what I am doing just by having this hour and a half in conversation with you, Germán. I think that for many of us in the world, it's quite challenging to befriend our fears. As Anne has shared that when you go through one of those doors, the lightness can shine through, even if it may take a while. It really helps reveal what your purpose is in connection to everybody else, and in connection to how to co-create a more compassionate world. Just want to express my gratitude, Germán, and also gratitude on behalf of ServiceSpace, the larger community, for not only sharing your time, but sharing your presence in this conversation. It's a very palpable presence that I can feel through the phone. I also want to give everybody a chance to say thank you and wish you a belated happy birthday. Before we do that, just want to have a minute of our gratitude to shine what we've received on this call back out into the world. So let's have one minute of gratitude. (silence) Thank you!
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