This picture, "Self-portrait with Lightning", was inspired by a mystical event that became the defining moment of my life.
If you guessed that I'm in the house at the bottom of the painting, you're right. The room with the light on is my bedroom, and I'm in there.
The event began at five-thirty in the morning of December 24, 1993. I lay in bed, wide-awake. I became aware of a strong concentration of energy in the centre of my forehead, just above the bridge of my nose. I felt a question, "Are you willing?" My heart answered, "Yes". That's when ‘I' ceased to exist. My self-awareness vanished. Awareness remained.
It is therefore a fitting co-incidence that my presence in the painting is merely implied, because my sense of self had evaporated. There was an all-pervading, all-inclusive awareness, filled with incredibly exquisite sensations, but
no ‘me' and no ‘other'.
The event began with an intense sensation of sexual intimacy. This was not physical. There was no partner, because there was no ‘other' - just sheer ecstasy, pure joy.
This was followed by a sensation I can only describe as worship, except that there was no God, because there was no ‘other'.
As abruptly as the event began, it was over. My sense of self returned, and I received these two messages:
"Nothing is wrong". "Live your life".
The calligraphy on the right side of my painting is a quote from chapter two of the writings of Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu:
"Now comes the great awakening,
when we realize this is all a dream!"
I agree with Chuang Tzu:
Awareness is infinite. It includes, but is not limited to, self-awareness. We are dreaming if we think otherwise.