There Are Two Dimensions to Life

From Thich Nhat Hahn:

"The Wave and the Water THERE ARE TWO dimensions to life, and we should be able to touch both. One is like a wave, and we call it the “historical dimension.” The other is like the water, and we call it the “ultimate dimension,” or “nirvana.” We usually touch just the wave, but when we discover how to touch the water, we receive the highest fruit that meditation can offer."

As an artist working with historical imagery, this meditation from the famed Buddhist monk strikes a personal chord. He basically puts into words, exactly what I am trying to achieve in visual art. The historical, though often thought of in terms of indelible or unchanging terms by many people, is quite the opposite. History is ever-changing as new evidence and research comes forth and as our perspective changes. My research and historical study of portraiture and imagery is my touching of the wave. But it is only part of the exercise.

Creating my art is also about touching the water... Developing the historical into the present, the contemporary, into images that connect the past with the present, and potentially even future, beyond their original intention and context. It's about not only intellectual connections, but emotional, philosophical, and spiritual recognition of oneself in the past. What of it is me? What if I am it? How do I use the wave to reach out and touch the water?