Why – Art and Yoga for You! ?
Connecting with the Flow –  January 5 – 12, 2019, Casa de los Artistas, Boca de Tomatlan 
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V7 Kalya-TapasyaRobert Masla, "(Self Portrait) - Kalya Tapasya - The Transforming Power of Time", mixed media painting, 40" x 30"
“I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living.” -Robert Henri
‎”When it is working, you completely go into another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That’s what it’s all about.”
-Keith Haring
“Awareness of this fact: that all are one; that you are yourself one with the all, which is love, that you are encompassed with it, are a receiver and a dispenser of it, this is indeed “the greatest blessing,” the highest state of awareness, and may transcend and take the place of all other kinds because it includes them all. This is indeed Yoga; the very word means union-the uniting of the Great Self with the little, the individual soul with the universal spirit.”
– Claude Bragdon, Yoga for You, 1943
“He neither serves nor rules, he transmits. His position is humble and the beauty at the crown is not his own. He is merely a channel” – Paul Klee
For me Art is one of the many paths that can lead to authenticity of self and connection with the Universal. Like Yoga, it involves a certain mastery of self, of techniques, methods, discipline – then an ambandoning of control and a trust in the unseen, intuitive, in the creative energy and Creation. A balance in the process, because the process is the product. – You have to go in to get out and you have to go out to get in.
When I was about 14 or so, I read Hermann Hesse’s book Siddhartha and I thought, “I want to be like that”. I was not an avid reader at that age, it probably took me months to read it. I was much more interested in being in nature and my imagination, playing with my friends, sports, always romping through the fields and forests near our home, and drawing and painting, (I had been painting in the studio of my mentor Alton S. Tobey since I was about eleven). I already thought of myself, my path, as that of an artist – not knowing what that really was or meant, other than the incredible inspiration of creative exploration and craftsmanship that I saw in Tobey, my teacher.
Siddhartha stirred something in me, awakening excitement, questioning, self examination – suddenly the world was no longer flat -and never would be again. When I finished the book I was excited to share it and that evening handed it to my father and asked him to read the culminating chapter entitled OM (AUM). I had a deep respect and admiration for my fathers intellect, (and now – so many years later, a great appreciation for his innate wisdom) and wanted to hear his reaction to what had stirred me so deeply. The next morning I asked him what he thought of the chapter, he said he thought it was  “a very interesting book”, (I remember I was blown away that he had read it all that night, but having reread it a couple of years ago, I realize now it is quite short, just over a hundred pages). He said, “since you liked that so much, I have a book that I read in college I think you’ll find interesting”. He handed me a little, slightly weathered black book called “Yoga for You” by Claude Bragdon.
This little black book became my constant companion over the next couple of years, my guide book so to speak in the quest of spiritual truth. I carried it with me, read and reread it as I began to ask more questions, exploring the various world religions, mysticism, philosophy, etc. This was the early 1970’s, and the consciousness expansion of the 1960’s was still reverberating through society. My older brother Richard and I, (with some influence from oldest brother Douglas), also around this time began experimenting with consciousness altering substances, which seemed to only support and verify the experiences I was already having. We  shared together our explorations, discoveries and realizations, in the deep spiritual journey of life.
Up to that point I had been painting only in the representational, realist and surrealist idioms. Upon discovering the fluid and “uncontrolled” – expansive nature of watercolor something shifted, there was a different way of interacting with the medium. I had to, (as I always tell my students), “listen to the paint” more. It felt liberating to me, and outside of Tobey’s studio, I started to experiment in a manner of “Pollokian” action painting which seemed to mirror both the mind expanding-spiritual realizations, and the….
b GoingTowardTheOne copy
Robert Masla: Going Towards the One,watercolor on arches paper, 1974
… meditations and psychedelic experiences I was having.
Over the next decade or so, I had been told by some friends that my brother Richards’ and my life mirrored another Hermann Hesse book, “Narcissus and Goldman”. Richard traveled to India, (to date he has been there about 40 times to study Yoga and Ayurveda) and lived the next 12 years as a Yogi monk. I went on to further study art and then continue to live the life of an artist, which eventually, among other wonderful adventures, led to the creation, with my wife Monica, of Casa de los Artistas, my Studios South in Mexico and what has become an amazing retreat space for numerous adventurous souls looking to add depth, joy, learning and fun to their life experience. Though starting off on distinct paths, with plenty of preconceived ideas of what it all meant to be both “spiritual” and “artistic”, I feel that both Richard and I, through our life experiences, have become much more integrated in numerous ways, yet still share the initial impulse, to discover our Truth, that first set us on our journeys. I know through our conversations that he would agree with me when I say, whether art or yoga; the path, the practitioner and the goal are all one and the same – To be situated in loving awareness and to express that – moment to moment, in every aspect of life, thus participating in the creation in positive and beautiful ways. I feel very grateful that we are able to continue to share our journey together and have the opportunity to share our talents and experience together with others each first week of the New Year at the Casa with the workshop: “Connecting with the Creative Flow, Journey to Awaken Your Creative Self through Art and Soul – A Art and Yoga Retreat“.
“Being ‘spiritual’ simply means being willing to look into the nature of life, to ask questions and to wonder, and to listen. It also means seeing art everywhere.” –Quang Ho
“Yoga is a natural process, not a violent, spasmodic effort-not an act, but a course of action, involving the entire conduct of one’s life. It is a quiet and deliberate shift of attention from the world aspect to the world order, and the awakening a new form of perception, the intuitive, whereby the surface and depth are simultaneously apprehended…”
– Claude Bragdon, Yoga for You
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