one begins to glimpse nonduality


As I experience it, artistic discipline comprises two areas of development: the theoretical and the yogic.

Theoretical understanding arises from the study the historical, philosophical, and technical application of any area of study.


Robert Spellman: Boulder Creek 3

Boulder Creek 3
acrylic on canvas


The second area of development, the yogic, (derived from the Sanskrit word yoga, which means joining, union) is how a practitioner of a discipline becomes one with the activity at hand. I have been interested in developing this yogic understanding since my time in art school. It has led me to an intensive investigation of mind as it is understood in Buddhist philosophical systems of India and Tibet wherein the nature of mind and experience is examined minutely. This entails a methodical and sometimes arduous dismantling of preconceived ideas about reality. One begins to glimpse nonduality, the absence of separation between mind and phenomena, subject and object, inside and outside. This nondual joining or yoga must occur experientially, not theoretically. Those who have followed this inquiry to its fruition serve as brilliant examples of clarity and accuracy of being.


Robert Spellman: Green Lily

Green Lily
acrylic on canvas


The union with phenomena described here offers practical guidance for artists, musicians, athletes, and mothers. It is what athletes call being “in the zone” or what jazz musicians used to call being “in the groove.” It is the freedom from mental fixation essential to the initiations in many traditional societies. It is a way of being in which verbal and visual communication elucidate, transcending mere skill or display.

– Robert Spellman

Images and text © copyright Robert Spellman

Robert Spellman is associate professor in both the visual arts and religious studies departments at Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado


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one begins to glimpse nonduality

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