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EHE Process/Spiritual Path
Record Type: Review   ID: 109

Art Is a Way of Knowing

Allen, Pat B.

 In a one-page Foreword, M.C. Richards shows the similarities between what she calls the "art processes" and what we call the EHE process. The "images" that are born in the art process serve the same role as EHEs in the life of the person. Richards points out that Allen’s book is about "image-making, artwork, as a way of knowing the life of the soul," emphasizing the need to trust the process. "It is the underground river that gives us life and mobility." So, too, EHEs are pointers to the ongoing EHE process. Richards says it takes time to create an image in art, and so does it take time to work with and catch glimpses of the EHE process in which you and your life are the artwork. Richards says: "The art process carries us free of conscious thinking and judging." Just so with exceptional experiences. The scientific approach to such experiences is to consciously think and judge them to extinction. The approach we advocate is to remain open, wait for something else to happen, and when it does, follow if you can trust the process. She says "absorption in the process is what heals. It accesses another part of oneself." We have called this "other" part the All-Self: Richards points out that the art process promotes personal health, but it is also engaged in "for the larger fabric of values in the culture as well. This fabric [quoting Allen] ‘only shifts incrementally, as individuals do the difficult work of changing themselves.’" And so it is with EHEs—they culminate not only in a new self but a new worldview—and the world is made new. Allen’s chapter headings emphasize the many ways in which art is a way of knowing. She teaches how to start by knowing imagination, memory, and how to begin. Next, one needs to know the basic steps or mediums of drawing, painting, and sculpting. Next comes knowing "thyself" as found in obstacles, background, work, soul, and story. This fits one to explore "Deeper Waters," involving archetypes, the dance, patterns, life, grief, the past. Now well into the process, one knows henceforth it will be more of the same and always different: knowing depth, fear, projection, the unknown, collaboration, transformation, and ... knowing something. Allen says art does not cure—it "restores the connection to soul," which is the source of personal (and cosmic) meaning. Although she is an art therapist, this book is about her "most significant experiences," which she says "have come through using materials to discover and follow my own streams of imagery" (p. xv). She views art as a spiritual path, and she feels it does not require special talent and may be discovered by anyone. "The gift of creativity is within each of us waiting to unfold" (p. xvi). So do each of us have exceptional experiences that can be used to transport us into the EHE process, or the spiritual path, though it need not involve any religious imagery (though of course it can). Allen says the crux of her work is to show how through art anyone can "create a new fork in the road to travel that may lead us each to our authentic home, which is deep within, and outward again to our right place in the world" (p. xiv). So it is with EHEs. They are often anomalies—and certainly always signposts—indicating a fork in our road. If we choose to take it, it will lead us to the process that is within us and without us, and that will connect us in our deepest depths with the outmost limits of creation. This connection is constantly renewed as we continue to flow in that process, which Moebiuslike, touches both subjective and objective worlds.
Publisher Information:Foreword by M.C. Richards. Boston: Shambhala, 1995. 204p. Bibl: 201-202; 33 illus; Resources: 203-204
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