Michael Egon Schiele
When I was growing up, no one impressed me more the Jack Kerouac. Reading his novels was my passage into adulthood. They somehow bridged the cavernous expanse between adolescence and my adult life with their lovingly harsh portrayals of a world I would eventually try and emulate. From all of my time reading his work, the one thing that has stood out more than any was Kerouac's idea of "equally empty."
In his semi-autobiographical novel The Dharma Bums, Kerouac portrays a conversation between himself (Ray Smith) and the poet Gary Snyder (Japhy Ryder) in which Kerouac describes a Buddhist prayer he's created that's centered around the idea which we're all equally empty in Buddha's eyes. To think, we're all empty vessels in the Lord's eyes was a pretty intriguing thought. Kerouac's prayer with the thought of friends and enemies eye's alike: "equally empty, equally to be loved, equally a coming Buddha" is notable because it acknowledges that each one of us has a potential Buddha, or saint, within. We are all working towards enlightenment at our own slow pace.
The Dharma Bums romanticises the poet's life and celebrates the mundane with drunken exuberance. Snyder also shared with Kerouac his love of the wild and camping. Kerouac's prose extols the majesty of our world, it's necessary cutting. I fell in love with this book and it has influenced me in ways unaccountable and strange. Even for us who don't live with their bags packed, the internet is that kind of a world too, isn't it? A world where we're always moving on, a new feed coming in, notifications to be seen. Take a deep breath and take the world in.
In Buddhism, the word Śūnyatā is used to describe a void or emptiness, the basic No. In the Heart Sutra, which talks of having 'gone-beyond' to 'awaken,' a place is described where everything there is nothing, so there is no fear. Fearlessness and the undeniable equality which is our shared base resonates to me like the Ralph Waldo Emerson assertion that "every heart vibrates to that iron string." In E. Konze's translation of the Heart Sutra it reads: "
"form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form ;
emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form,
the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness"
Our feelings are as empty as our hearts and minds. So we look for that which awes us to fill a void which only remains empty. My art, photographs and poetry are merely documents of that emptiness, an emptiness to form the meanings of our lives. Come travel with me, hear my stories. Let me share with you the gems of existence scattered along our path.
-Michael Egon Schiele