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Nov 08, 1997 04:38 PM
by Thoa Tran

Hi Eiichi,

Eiichi wrote:
>it is very useful book. I wonder why I had not encounter the book. One
>reason is I had been occupied with Mondrian's practical painter's side
>and for a while put aside the ocult part.

Of the reviews of Mondrian that I've seen, the authors are either
unbalanced toward the artistic or the occult part.  It's tough enough that
there are people writing about art who have never experienced the process
of making art, but try to find a reviewer who understands the process of
art making AND theosophy!  Oh, well, artists aren't usually writers, and I
guess we need someone to communicate for us or put words in our mouth.  As
you probably can see, Mondrian is a very dry writer, sort of like trying to
understand the Secret Doctrine.

>"An asymmetrical mandala"! I haven't heard the word. Is there any
>materials explaining or illustlate this? If so, I definitely go for it!

That was done through deductive reasoning, my dear Watson.:o)  The process
of mandala making, like Yoga, is older than Theosophy.  Since my own thesis
project only involved having an exhibition of my paintings, I'm not
familiar with what is involved in a written thesis project.  Do they allow
for some deductive reasoning, or does everything have to be backed up with
a published source?

My sources were descriptions of Mondrian's purpose, the process of mandala
making, Alice Bailey's definition of rhythm, and the fact that Alice Bailey
was basically describing the Yogic process in her definition.  All of those
can be backed up with written sources.

>The phrase "A thing disappears from one plane and passes onward to
>appear on another plane." is very interesting because this seems to suggest
>somewhat movement or occilating in a equilibrated point.

Yes.  This is a movement in a no-time, no-space sense, or quoting Alice
Bailey, "the end of time and space as we understand it", moving while being

>> 3.  Here's a passage (The Mental Body, A.E. Powell, The Theosophical
>> Publishing House, p. 160) regarding laya center that might help clarifying
>> its relation to Yoga:  " the mental body is stilled, the consciousness
>> escapes from it and passes into and out of the 'laya centre,' the neutral
>> points of contact between the mental and the causal body.
>This is like a starting point of Astro Travel.

Same process.  It all starts from the same laya point.  It just depends on
what level or plane you want to get to and how you're going to sustain the
frequency of the vibration in order to act on that plane.  Just tell the
elevator operator what floor you want to get off on! :o)

>That it! One of the most difficult parts is to understand the
>relationships between the subjective and the objective, and the
>individual and the universal. The objective and the universal should
>grow in the subjective and the individual reciprocally, not by
>annihilating each other,

Yes, that's the whole point of theosophy.  The evolution of man to god-man
and beyond.  You've heard of the familiar saying, "We are all one," right?

>but by prioritize the latter

I'm not sure about this statement or what you mean by prioritizing the
subjective, unless you're talking about the individual's exercise to get in
touch with or be aware of their relation to the universal.

>and finally reach
>the equillibrated point, which is stasis but still occilating quickly,

The laya center contains the potential of all frequencies.  Think of that
metaphorical image of the sine wave again.  Suppose you were to look at the
sine wave from one of its ends, like looking into a cone, you would see a
line with a point in the center of it (the laya center, center of
equilibrium). That's the center to all frequencies, a common point for all
the planes of existence (physical, astral, mental, etc.).  Since this is a
point of stasis, it is a common doorway to all the planes.  Which plane you
try to reach depends on your ability to attune to its frequency.  By
creating ways to find a point of equilibrium, Mondrian was making doorways
through which the transcendant universal can come through.  This is a
glimpse at the theory of the occult art and science of mandala making.  It
is ritual art making at it's best and has been practiced by aspirants for
centuries.  We say asymmetrical mandalas because traditionally mandalas
have taken on forms of bilateral symmetry (i.e. Tibetan Buddhist, tantric
or Native American religious paintings).  While functionally the same,
Mondrian chose to express the theme of a laya center through asymmetric
means.  As you well know, he did that through his arrangements of colors,
tones, and lines.

>in Mondrinan's term, 'fast'. The earlier neo-plastic painting the traits
>of stasis is spotlighted but later in New York period, 1914-44, the
>energized traits are emphasised. Then whether rhythm functions within
>the subject or outside the relationship between the subjective and
>objective, or the individual and the universal is the problem.

Yes, in his earlier neo-plastic paintings, his work was more of what we
were discussing, an asymmetrical mandala intent on "drawing the universe
down."  However, in his NY period, he somewhat abandoned that idea of
static equilibrium, and became more concerned with the NYC vibes.

>The part "into threee-dimensional" is extremely interesting because
>Mondrian intended to realize his idea of Neo-plasticism and, I
>think, rhythm as well, into his studio. If you went to last years
>exhibition held at MOMA in New York, you could have seen the reprica of
>Mondrian's studio.

Are you implying that Mondrian was trying to realize his theory of rhythm
in painting into the physical space of his studio?  If so,then he is
scratching the surface of sacred architecture.  If Mondrian was trying to
realize his 2-dimensional theory into a 3-dimensional form, then you might
want to look into related ideas such as those found in Plato.  Plato, in
the "Timaeus", had worked out a progressive sequence where an invisible
point (laya center) manifests into the physical through a series of regular
geometric volumes (tetrahedron, octahedron, cube, dodecahedron, and
icosahedron), and eventually form a perfect 3-dimensional sphere.  He's
basically describing the laya center in 3-dimensional space and time.  This
work and others related to it have formed the basis of what could be called
the study of sacred geometry and have been used by architects both east and
west to produce buildings in which the universe can be drawn downward, i.e.
cathedrals, churches, temples, the great pyramids, etc.

Some books you might want to look up:

1.  The Mathematics of the Cosmic Mind by L. Gordon Plummer.
    The Theosophical Pub. House, ISBN 0-8356-0030-0

2.  Sacred Geometry by Robert Lawlor
    Thames and Hudson, London, Copyright 1982

3.  Music Forms by Geoffrey Hodson
    The Theos. Pub. House, ISBN 0-8356-7519-X

This first part of this book describes the work of the Swiss researcher
Hans Jenny to "suggest possible comparisons between cymatic effects of
vibration transmitted to physical substances, solid and liquid and those
produced by music upon superphysical matter."  It's a little off the track
with relation to your work on Mondrian, but it's interesting in the sense
that it provides clues to the workings of nature in manifesting rudimentary
physical forms from a point of vibrational stasis (laya center, etc.).

4.  Sufi by Laleh Bakhtiar
    Thames and Hudson, Copyright 1976

The sufis, a sect of Islamic mystics, were forbidden by the Koran to make
anthropomorphic representations of Allah.  However, they understood sacred
geometry.  Thus, they created a form of geometrical decorative art in their
architecture and cultural objects that expressed pure devotion. For
example, most of their prayer rugs contain geometric imagery (again,
traditionally based on bilateral symmetry and very mandala-like). They were
intended to create a sacred space within which they could perform their
ritual of prayer, where they could, in essence, "draw down the universe"
(like Mondrian!).

As an aside, but related to Plato's sacred geometry, vibrations, etc., I
read recently in the current issue of Wired magazine, regarding the
research into storing digital information in crystals.  Using laser light
and prisms, they are able to holographically encode and retrieve binary
information into and from a crystal.  That's amazing.  Just think, we can
take the simplest form of information, pluses and minuses (the basic
principles of any vibration), and store them in the most rudimentary
physical geometric forms (crystals).  By slightly changing the angle that
the laser hits the crystal, you can store almost infinite planes of
information.  Plato would have loved that!

Even before this most recent development, you can see that we depend on
crystals in our daily life.  Look at the silicon chip, it's sand, which is
crystal.  The earliest radios were dependent on crystals to tune into
frequencies.  Basically, the information was in the air, but you needed a
way to tune into it and then manifest it in a way that can be perceived by
your senses.  There's a relation there to practical occultism and sacred

>> Now, to me, that seems a whole lot like what Mondrian was trying to do.  In
>> studying mandalas, you can see that Mondrian's work is basically an
>> asymmetrical modernist mandala.
>Zutalours! Defenitely I have to know more about it. that an Australian expression? :o)  There are plenty of
stuff written on mandalas, and plenty are exhibited in museums.

>Thanks again there seems big clue to open the enigma of rhythm in
>Mondrian. I will try my best.

You're welcome.  I've learned a few things from this study, too.

>p.s. I enjoyed Mark's site very much. There I found the CD cover design
>of Gavin Bryars'. He is one of my favourite composers. How did Mark get
>that job from? Is he or are you aquaintance of Gavin? Actually I
>attended one of his series of concerts in Melbourne couple of week ago.
>"Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet" is fantastic!

I'll let Mark write to you about that.
Hi Eiichi, Mark here.
I got that job through PolyGram records, who distribute all of Gavin Bryars
albumns. He records on PolyGram Classics and Jazz. At the time, our
objective was to create a hybrid CD that included a multimedia track on it
(that could be played through a CD-ROM drive) as well as the music. Gavin
was chosen along with a few other artists (i.e. Vanessa Williams and Bob
Marley) because we were trying to sell the idea of enhanced CD to
PolyGram's family of record labels. It was felt that the subject matter of
his record "The Sinking of the Titanic" would give us a lot of great
material to make a multimedia product from, and they were right. The piece
has since gone on to win some interactive design awards and was generally
considered a design (if not commercial) success.

I never actually got to meet Gavin Bryars. He was in the UK and I am in San
Francisco. The closest I got was to meet our go between at the PolyGram
offices in New York.

I'm glad that you liked the work on my web site.

Good Day, Mate!

Thoa & Mark :o) ;)>

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