Mind Expansion in Art School

Some of my fondest memories deal with my unique education in art school. I attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, New York. It was a very progressive school. It was there that I was given real insights to mind expansion (apart from any drug use).

I particularly remember my drawing instructor asking everyone in the class to bring in a head of cabbage. He then asked us to draw the cabbage—with our weaker hand! This not only led to greater concentration on my part, but I could sense that an important principle to inner development was being taught.

Because I was using my left arm to draw, I was forced to use different parts of my brain. My brain also had to use different pathways, rather than the “beaten path” to coordinate these new movements.

We like routine. It is way more comfortable and uses up very little mental energy. But we cannot find our full potential unless we find ways to escape the tyranny of our habitual mind. I actually felt that this drawing exercise fused together new cognitive functions and built up a new force within me, which gave me better command of my potentials and energies—mentally, emotionally and physically.

Then a wonderful bit of providence happened to me. While I was attending the School of Visual Arts, it became fully accredited and began to offer a wider variety of courses. Later, after moving into the professional world as a writer for a large advertising agency, I continued to take advantage of these new courses in the evenings and in the summer.

One such class hit me like a double-barreled shotgun. I was introduced to the unique ideas of both George Gurdjieff and Emanuel Swedenborg simultaneously! Years later, I joined organizations which promoted the ideas of these two extraordinary individuals. They were extraordinary because they simply could not be studied by one’s habitual mind—in fact, they destroyed it.

Gurdjieff offered evidence that we live in an “imagined reality” and Swedenborg offered new ideas about God, religion and the Holy Word. Both men concentrated on helping humanity identify their flaws and to develop their true inner potentials.

I remember taking part in some of Gurdjieff’s “sacred movements,” which reminded me of drawing a cabbage with my left arm—but were way more challenging. One was forced to concentrate with special effort in order to move one’s arms, legs and body in unfamiliar and increasingly complicated ways. These movements were designed so that we could not allow our minds and bodies to fall into a routine or habit.

These sacred movements also helped to “soften the beaches” for getting one’s mind ready for Gurdjieef’s unique cosmology. Gurdjieff focused his teaching on helping us to individuals to verify the reality of their flaws (and “mechanicalness”) and make real changes that could have positive eternal consequences.

Swedenborg’s writings complement this fearless (and unflattering) exploration of our flawed nature and worldviews. He provides ponderous evidence that God’s Holy Word is a multi-dimensional document with deeper levels of meaning. These “inner” levels of Scripture provide further information and details on the steps toward proper spiritual growth (for positive eternal consequences).

Between studying Gurdjieff and Swedenborg, my brain was not only making new connections and synapses, it was being challenged into activating deeper neural substrates where unexpected and distinctly new cognitive functions were awakened. We were all designed by God to transcend our biological selves (not just attend church services)!

The problem with spiritual growth in a material world is how do you earn a living being able to draw a head of cabbage with your left hand? The answer is simple. Your brain will have been exercised sufficiently enough that you can more readily tap into new creative capacities and figure out how to become increasingly valuable to society and even earn some money, no matter what you turn your attention to!


About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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6 Responses to Mind Expansion in Art School

  1. evelyn m. says:

    What a great story! And it has some really good lessons for us all to apply to our lives. I’m going to have to look deeper into the work of both men. Their ideas sound very challenging, but probably also very much worth the effort. Thanks for being so inspiring!

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear evelyn m,


    Both men can provide you with a lifetime of study (and self-study!).

    Spiritually yours,

  3. Sue says:

    Hi, GodGuy, I mentioned you on my blog today. Have you read it? I read your blog, you should read mine – that’s blogger etiquette.

  4. thegodguy says:

    Dear Sue,

    I did read your post. However I have tried several times to reply and failed (something must be incompatible with our systems).

    Meanwhile, thanks for your patience with ordering my new book “Proving God.” I have verified that my distributor has the book in his warehouse. Now its in his hands to get copies for Amazon.

    If something unforeseen happens I can send a copy directly to you. Let me know when you get it!

    (As for the numbers of readers who comment about my blog topics most seem to prefer putting their remarks on Facebook.) This is a popular blog and my readership keeps growing!

    Spiritually yours,

  5. Sue says:

    Hi, GodGuy,
    I’ve heard it’s hard to comment on my blog – don’t know why, I set it so anyone can comment – maybe anonymously would work. I’m glad you tried.

    I’m sure amazon will send me the book soon. I’m purposely not going to read reviews of it ahead of time because I want to give it a full open mind. I hope it’s great.

  6. thegodguy says:

    Dear Sue,

    The book requires an open mind. It challenges much of today’s worldviews – scientifically and theologically. But it is guaranteed to take you on an intellectual adventure!

    Spiritually yours,

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