is the eye that perceives without labelling;
we could also call it the innocent eye
or the eye of beginner’s mind

Many artists and artisans have found that the practice of drawing, and/or engagement in creative encounters in the visual arts can open the mind to another way of seeing, a way that trashes habitual dualistic assumptions. They may use different words to describe this view, but all infer a relationship with something inconceivably larger than their everyday experience, something referred to here as the intimate unknowable.

When consciousness is no longer divided into subject and object an inexplicable wholeness pervades, and one’s actions flow seamlessly from and AS that completeness. Yet we have no language with which to speak of this seamlessness – even to use the phrase “art and the intimate unknowable” invites confusion, for within the encounter there is neither entity nor activity separate from the unknowable. Logically and experientially it is clearly meaningless to speak of ‘subject’ and ‘object’, and yet speak one must.

Throughout history there have been – and still are – many wise teachers who speak of this transcendence of duality as one’s original nature – an a-priori ‘beingness’ which we seem compelled to simultaneously seek and overlook. Their teachings are sometimes referred to as advaita, which means ‘one without a second’ – or more simply, nonduality. Regarded in this wider context the awakened eye is synonymous with the awakened I, and this topic forms the wider agenda of this blog.

This blog / website has been conceived as a place where ideas and teachings on this topic put forward by artists, educators, scientists, philosophers, sages and saints, can be accessed; a rich and varied smorgasbord of offerings. No claim that the visual arts have exclusive rights to either the ‘eye’ or the ‘I’ that awakens is being put forward – they simply happen to make up my personal creative milieu, the playground in which I so frequently encountered the mysterious merging and undertook a lifelong attempt to make sense of it. Writers, poets, athletes and performers are similarly familiar with this experience of merging, often referring to it as flow. Indeed it seems so common in human experience that it can hardly be seen as unusual. Why then, is it so elusive for most of us? Why does it vanish the minute it’s stalked?

As the site develops, I hope you find inspiration and encouragement here to support your inquiry, and that you realize that your awakened eye – your vast, open, non-dual natural knowingness –  is here, this very moment, aware-ing these words and creating this world.

– miriam louisa simons

The site’s title offers a bow of respect and gratitude to Frederick Franck, a true Renaissance Man, and one of my most influential teachers.

Comments and suggestions for inclusions are welcome.

Please use the form on the contact page to get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you.

Image: Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, detail
Claude Monet at the artisans’ gallery

Please note:
All material on this blog is posted in accordance with the limitations set forward by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). If a documented copyright owner so requests, their material will be removed from published display, although the Author reserves the right to provide linkage to that material or to a source for that material.
This blog may at times present copyrighted material. Such material is made available in an attempt to share understanding of, and promote inquiry into, the workings of human perception and its relationship to creative thinking and artisanship. The author believes that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the articles published on this blog are distributed without profit to those whose interest in the subject is for research and educational purposes.
If you wish to use any copyrighted material from this blog for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Thank you.

38 thoughts on “art and the intimate unknowable

    1. Hey Miriam! I am a very very grateful fan of your site and I would like to know what I can do for you in return! How goes your paintings, latest inspirations? I would love to hear about you and your daily life stuff! Xoxo

  1. Thanks for leaving a *like* over at *dhammafootsteps* blog the other day and I’m just starting to find my way around here. So good to find a site like this! I studied Art a long time ago and used to be an easel painter. I’m saying ‘used to’ because I have some difficulty with it now; it came to a standstill. Deconstructing caused it to somehow to come to an end. I do value the experience of others’ Art very much, quite special. That’s why it’s so good to visit your site

    1. Welcome, @tiramit – good to have your company here! I’m enjoying your writing at *dhammafootsteps* and found myself nodding quietly at the end of ‘The Thai Quietness’ – “I have to learn how to stay light.”

      Amen to that!

      Perhaps you’ll start painting again one day – echoing emptiness with a new palette …

      ~ miriam louisa

  2. Yes, emptiness, a new palette and learning how to stay light. It’s what happens after the deconstructing comes to an end? Thanks for these words.
    Watched and listened to the short video on the page: I see through every eye.
    ‘… stunned silence is the edge of awakening’ Shawn Nevins

  3. Love your latest post about the peacock’s tail. “I know why the birds sing, but I do not know why they sing beautifully. That is the crux of the matter. If the purpose of the thrasher’s song is only to warn rival males that he is in his home territory and will defend it, then he might as well croak.” – Louis Halle, Spring in Washington

    1. Andy – I am warmed to the core by your generous, kind comment.

      Your timing is perfect. Just as I am scolding myself that I’m overstretched and should perhaps cut back my involvement with this site, along comes a comment such as yours. I am reminded that from time to time people do find their way to this site, are moved by what they find, and are kind enough to leave a comment. It means more than I can say.

      Thank you so much.

      1. Miriam, it is an ineffable truth of this universe that the deeper one’s vision penetrates into its core the fewer will be able to follow; which is, perhaps, as it should be, since the path – by its nature – is never an easy one. But the corollary is that you will never make the journey alone; there will always be others – albeit few in number (and growing ever fewer as your journey deepens) – who will resonate with your discoveries. As you know, all your actions (even those you perhaps don’t perceive as meaningful), leave an infinite wake of ripples that touch others. Your site, and the wisdom the permeates it, is truly a gift. Be assured that it is noticed 🙂

  4. I have come upon your site via my following of Rupert Spira. Rupert’s frequent references to Paul Cezanne
    was my immediate interest. Miriam, your site is wonderful, and quite unique. Relating the work of so many
    artists to nondual teachings is most remarkable. I am grateful for your work!

    1. How good to hear from you Charles! (Your email is in a stack… sorry for the delayed response there.)

      I am delighted to visit your site and read about your own engagement with those interested in this topic.

      Rupert has been a generous supporter of and contributor to ‘the awakened eye’ since its early days. He has also been a wonderful friend and teacher for me.

      Your feedback is so appreciated, it makes all the work worthwhile. Thank you my friend.


  5. Your website continues to be a place of light and reassurance for me. As an artist and art teacher, I so often find myself questioning things I experience. Most of the time, I love the questioning, but sometimes I feel isolated in my quest and start to feel like I’m imagining it. Someday, I hope to meet others in real life that I share these interests with, and until then, your writing is a friendly refuge for me, and I want to thank you.

    1. Jess – it’s feedback like your sincere words here that makes this project so rewarding, thank you. I too sometimes feel very isolated and question the sanity of so much work spent on creating and maintaining a tiny space for the few who are drawn to the deeper meaning of our practice – but then along comes a comment like yours, and the energy is renewed. I am deeply grateful, it means more than I can say.
      – ml

  6. Miriam, this is a wonderful and inspiring thing you are doing. I know it is easy to doubt. When identifying with relative or dualistic experience, it is so easy to feel doubtful, isolated and alienated in an insane world – I feel this often when I lose the plot and fall back into believing old storylines, habits or conditioning to be “true”. That is why this site is so important, particularly for artists and meditators, as it seems to be one of a kind. As an artist and meditator I have visited this site often, and the sense of connection, inspiration always serve to encourage me. Thank you so much Zangmo Alexander

    1. Zangmo – your wonderful comment is deeply appreciated. And so timely. Recent events in my life have taken a toll on my energy and I was only yesterday muttering to a friend about retiring this website. I guess you were listening!

      There will – I’m sure – be a resurgence of both my energy and inspiration regarding this site. Simply put, it’s my passion. And you are right – it does seem to be “one of a kind”. Perhaps you will be the one to launch the resurgence – did you receive the email I sent in late November last year?

      With bells and whistles and deep bows, ml

      1. Hiya Miriam, I can understand the energy issue well! Did you get the email I sent you a few days ago in reply to the more recent one you sent me? We could Skype? 🙂 Zangmo

  7. I have been pointed to this website by an online friend as we embark on another year of 100 Days of Creativity. Please don’t close the site, I’m so happy yo have found you and really hope I cab return here and savour the delicious things coming my way! Thank you as artist, art therapist, Buddhist practitioner and meditator. I feel I will find likemindedness here and help me along my path.

    1. Thank you Alison – your kind words of appreciation mean a great deal to me. And it’s quite wonderful to visit your website and gain an overview of your work. I hope you find resources that will support you here – please visit again!

  8. I too have no idea how I came across this site, please hang in there and keep it going, it is so needed and I send you much gratitude! I recently got back into my artwork after spending about 30 years raising my family and working. This has kept me going and helped me keep my dreams alive and revived my belief that this is what I am and need to do as my part in making the world better. Sincerely, mattie

    1. Thank you Mattie! Your appreciation means so much to me.

      I’m delighted to hear that you’ve returned to your artwork – those years spent raising a family and working will be wonderful grist for the creative mill…


  9. Like Mattie, I too had relinquished my art in favour of pursuing my biological imperative and have also recently revived my muse and am actually being creative instead of just thinking about it. The search for oneness has led me to Advaita and the teachings of Rupert Spira among others, which in turn led me to this wonderful site. The energy you have devoted to this place in cyberspace is much appreciated and I will be back often. Thank you Miriam.

  10. What a treasure this website is. I’ve been a painter for over 40 years and I feel like I’ve been looking for this the whole time. Thank you so much. I feel inspired to paint again. What a gift.

    1. Gayle – your comment is music to my ears, and a warm hug to my heart. Feedback for the site is rare, and so beautiful to receive.
      I love to think you have been inspired to paint again!
      Thank you so much.

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