Thursday, July 7, 2011

Katha--Nachiketa's Three Wishes

Katha I,  15X18", mixed media on panel, copr 2011
It can be said that our parents were cruel in summoning us into this life where we will ultimately fall into decline and have to deal with death.  And you can say further that death is with us all along, like it or not, and is what characterizes life.  It's what motivates us to do anything.

So it was with Nachiketa.  He decided to drop in on Yama, The King Of Death, and get a few answers to all this.  Wasn't home, so Nachiketa waited for three days until Yama arrived.  Deeply embarrassed, Yama  granted Nachiketa three wishes.   The first was that his father love him when he returns home and be at peace that the son survived the jaws of death.  The second was instruction in the fire sacrifice, a metaphor for the parts of meditation that deal with detaching from (getting rid of) the things of this world (not the least of which is the ego itself).

The third is where Nachiketa solicits Death's own instruction on immortality--the realization of the Self. Makes perfect sense to me.  Who better than Death to show one how to defeat death.  His wish being granted (Yama didn't give up his secrets easily), Nachiketa became Death's student, and won immortality in God, the Self, the Lord of Love, Brahman.

I started this piece months ago, and kept going back to it, being ever so careful not to mess it up.  Most of the time it has been an object of contemplation.  Nothing lofty, just contemplation on just what I wanted to accomplish with it.  The actual working time is probably an hour or so.  The Katha Upanishad  had nothing to do with it until about an hour ago.   Nothing except I read the Upanishads every summer, and just finished Katha last night.

Fits perfectly don't you think?

Here are some snaps of my hike the other day down by the river.



Casey Klahn said...

Your sense of irony is only surpassed by your sense of concordance.

Glad you posted this.

Word Verification: Imabig

William Cook said...

Casey--An interesting observation-- thank you. I'll have to ponder that one. It's almost midnight, however-- after ten my wit diminishes at least by half.

Celeste Bergin said...

fantastic work! the colors and textures "send me"!!

AutumnLeaves said...

Interesting post, lovely piece of art, and gorgeous photos of nature. It doesn't get much better than this!

SamArtDog said...

Love the in and out of this piece.
And rivers seem to make great pictures. I especially like #4 where the rocks reveal their timeless plasticity.

L.W.Roth, said...

Not exactly the kind of book I have on my summer reading list Bill, but I'm sure MacLaine has read it and I'm going to read her new book: I'm Over All That. I do like the artwork though and contemplation in a wooded scene so nicely snapped by your new camera. Beautiful photographs.

William Cook said...

Hi Celeste--Thanks for commenting. I like the natural rhythms and colors too. Feels like home.

Sherry--What a nice thing to say! Thanks for checking in.

Hi Sam Thanks. I hiked down to this formation called the Pot Rocks where you can see round bottom holes the size of basketballs all over the place in this bedrock--Very unique and strange. I like that reference to timeless plasticity--good one. Sure fits here.

Hi Linda--We talkin Shirley? "What A Way To Go" has always been way up there on my movie hit parade (Nachiketa would dig the title). I'll have to check out her new book. I'm glad you liked the art and snaps, it was a great hike--all that solitude--healthy. Thanks for stopping by. All the best.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Once again, you have created a visual feast of texture and subtlety.

I keep coming back to that fourth photograph of smooth rock and water. Something about it makes me want to put my cheek to the warm surface and smell the forever in every crag.

I don't think I would relish Death as a mentor, but would rather hang out with the Lord of Love. Because, without Love, immortality is just a tuneless song with a skip in the groove.

William Cook said...

Hi Katherine--I always liked the idea of 'visual feast'--thanks. There are actually a lot of people sunbathing elsewhere on these rocks no doubt doing just that--enjoying the forever of the moment. Nice thought. As for Yama, I know, it seems so counter intuitive to seek Death's instruction. One wants to run the other way. But his instruction was to seek the Lord of Love through such things as compassion, forgiveness, and denial of the self and selfish things. In this sense it all sounds very familiar as the essential Christian message. I just thought it was a very clever way to discuss this stuff, written about 500BC. As always, I very much enjoy your comments. Best.

Sharmon Davidson said...

Yes, I do think... but it usually gets me into trouble. What river is this? Have you ever seen the movie 'Mahabharata'?

William Cook said...

This is the Gunpowder River. Now a nature preserve, it used to run several mills, one of which made cannon for the Revolutionary War. That factory was built in 1750. All that's left of it is a small stone corner, perfectly laid, hidden in the sticker bushes (if you can find it). Lots of other notable history haunts these trails, my favorite getaway.

I will look into this movie--sounds very interesting--no I haven't seen it. Thanks for checking in!

Andrew Finnie said...

Hey William, I can see that you are one of the few who has good brains and gets to use them to their fullest in exploring your art and it's themes and the cultures that you come across - my hat off to you. The red line here is a gem, it sets the work off beautifully, a frame within a frame, eh? :)