It is not often that a work of art comes along which has the ability to encompass the whole range of human experience: beauty, suffering, life, death and the mysterious beyond. Today I have finally finished reading Ben Okri’s epic work, Starbook. This book is such a work of art.
In fact the story itself centers around a tribe of artists who make incredible, magical and mysterious art. Art is their reason for existence, their life’s work, and everything in their lives revolves around it. It is the story of a prince, a maiden with whom he falls in love, and the story of a people, a kingdom, of the past and future, of humans on earth and of beings from the stars. It is a vast metaphor, a fable, an epic, an odyssey, a dream, a version of history and a prayer for the future. Starbook is Okri’s homage to the Christ story and the story of the Buddha, while also being his own uniquely creative vision of his homeland and its vast people in Africa. This is a master’s work.
As so many of us have, I too have been going through a kind of transformation during these last months. Today and this weekend seems to be another pinnacle of time, devoted to inwardly seeking, listening, opening to the voices and whispers of our spirit, a doorway into the beyond which lies above this earthly realm of suffering and pain which we have all lived in and with for so long that many have forgotten that there is another way to be alive. Yet the clear directive coming to us collectively right now, is exactly that: there is another way to experience life in human form, a way beyond all the unendurable suffering we have inflicted upon each other and ourselves all these many centuries. Okri’s insightful retelling of the human story brought me near tears throughout reading it, and yet simultaneously also helped me to somehow distance my heart from the pain of it, as all great cathartic works tend to do. For his story, although set in Africa, is not merely the story of the loss of innocence and the influence of the western world upon that land, bringing slavery and horrific conditions to an entire race of people. It is the story of human bondage, death and redemption, as old as anyone can recall.
As I contemplate life on this special October weekend of 2012, I wish to acknowledge and honor the immense struggle which humans have endured over the course of our known history, sensing that only by honoring and remembering what has come before, can we fully release and forgive our collective memory and thereby move ahead towards a different future that so many of us are waking up to now. Okri says that Africa lives in all of us, and in a very real way he is absolutely right. We are all tribal peoples from somewhere in the world, some distant (or not so distant) past, with many many stories underneath us as we stand upon our piece of Earth right now, today. Time is fast becoming non-linear and some say that the day will soon come when linear time becomes a thing of the past. Our common experience of past, present and future will be vastly different than how we experience it now. All the more reason to honor, remember, and change the past as well as the future.
If I may, dear Readers, I would like to share a tiny glimpse of the future that I would like to live upon this beloved Earth. In this new future, everyone is an artist. There is no longer a differentiation between those who are and those who are not. No matter what one’s interest, the things they spend time doing are their art form. Everyone cares for everything, no matter how small, how inconsequential it may be. From the lowest to the highest in the world, all is made beautiful through love and care. In this future world of Earth, there are only two laws: Love and Kindness. Creativity of every kind flourishes, nature is more abundant and richer than ever before, and humans live in perfect harmony with the natural world, including all the animals. There is no more killing of living beings.
In this new future Earth, the wisest humans are the ones who make the decisions that affect all others. Purity of heart and generosity are the most desirable qualities in a human being. Competition has long ceased to be desirable, and the ancient arts are again understood and practiced. The gods, or beings from other realms than Earth, have again been given their rightful place of respect and reverence by the humans, and they work together to create all sorts of new ways of being and doing things, things we right now cannot even possibly imagine can be. It goes without saying that peace has been utterly restored to all living on the Earth.
One of the most beautiful passages in Starbook refers to a sculpture which the master artist of the tribe creates, his last and most magnificent creation. It is described thus:
“And what was it, this mysterious sculpture? It was more than it seemed. And its mystery was as much in how it created a shimmer of illuminations around itself, against the sky, as it was the spirit-charged nature of the stone, as it was that of which it was an eternal sigh, a question mark without a name, concentrating the magic of the heavens into the illusion of space. It was the figure of a being, a man or woman or god or goddess or dream; and the figure stood with both of its arms stretched out unnaturally wide, embracing the whole universe, in a mighty act of acceptance. Arms outstretched and legs spread out wide, doubly embracing all of life, the universe, all suffering, all joy, the beginning, the end, life, death and beyond……”
Isn’t this precisely what we must all do now, to embrace all of life, the universe, all suffering and joy, the beginning, the end, life, death and what lies beyond? This is such a beautiful summation of our goal, our purpose, our common future of humanity. To stand with arms and legs wide open upon this glorious, magnificent earth, to embrace our humanity, our groundedness, our deep soul, as well as our soaring, dreaming spirit selves among the starry world? We are becoming multi-dimensional beings like never before, whether we understand it or not matters little. It is what is happening to us, right now! How I wish I could just be like a fairy, or an insect, or a dream, and go from one human to the next, waking them from their slumber, their forgetting of the truth of their being, giving them the magic potion to make them all understand who we all of us Really ARE!
I wish to thank Ben Okri for his amazing Starbook, and all the wisdom contained therein. I hope that many more people will find and read this story, and find it as enlightening, illuminating, and enduring as I have. And I hope that all of you will continue to dream into the future that you wish to have, not only for yourselves, your children, your community and country, but for all of us, all the tribes and cultures and species of this incredible, gorgeous, and wonderful planet Earth.
- Astonishing the gods – and ourselves (clearskiesbluewater.wordpress.com)