In November, I visited Shanghai for the first time. I travelled there to participate in the Consciousness Reframed Conference at the De Tao Masters Academy. There, I presented a paper on the Techno Spiritual Horizons of Art and Compassionate Networked Art Forms. It was also an opportunity to meet Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, face to face, at the Jade Buddha Temple. Prior to my visit, my view of the Goddess was rather limited, especially in comparison to the actual encounter which, unexpectedly, granted me a magnificent vision.
Words don’t seem to be the proper medium to fully describe or perceive the essence of Kuan Yin as transpired in my vision. Therefore, I wish to share with you, as best I can, what can be communicated in a verbal or written way.
Kuan Yin is ancient but her wisdom is timely. A powerful innovator, in my vision she manifested as the creatrix of compassionate technology. Her presence unfolds as a dynamic entity with both organic and immaterial faculties, with layers of existence and consciousness.
Kuan Yin’s symbolic and somewhat surreal visual manifestation as a female being with a thousand arms, hands and eyes is the expression of her innate generosity, her perpetual bestowal of help and nourishment. Her arms, reaching inward and outward, resemble a web of interconnected links, mirroring the expansion and intricate connectivity of organic, imagined and artificial life. This image of her reflects the structure of the Internet, an artificial technology that has become closely interwoven with our biology and the communication of various levels and modes of consciousness. The mesh, which is formed between her arms, hands and eyes recalls the networked transfer of knowledge between online links, continents and planets, and from one generation to the next. Nothing is lost in her network. All is seen and acknowledged. Time is never wasted as it is elsewhere. Everything serves a function, or it lives, dies and is reborn. Knowledge is active, transmuted into wisdom and then transformed into practice and a way of life.
I left Shanghai with a feeling that the vision would serve me in the days to come. Surprisingly, I was reminded of its relevance and actuality, a couple of weeks later when two young women in Leicester Square in London approached me. They were part of a group of protesters against animal slaughter, emphasizing the cruelty involved in killing farm animals, which, as they say, have emotions and feel pain just like cats and dogs. One woman said that their struggle is similar to that of the suffragettes. It is difficult to imagine women gaining the right to vote a century ago, just as it is now difficult to imagine a world in which people “choose compassion over killing.”
The young women protesters contextualized their protest in history within a continuing feminist legacy. Furthermore, they talked about compassion that is inherent in the animals’ character, such as the compassionate nature of cows, basing their claim on the observations of animal behavior. I was instantly reminded of the sacred status of cow goddesses in the ancient world and the commanding status of ancient Egyptian queens that were associated with the cow goddess, such as Hathor.
In the web of arms, hands and witnessing eyes of the visionary structure that makes Kuan Yin, it is possible to imagine the invisible links that interconnect the young women of today with the suffragettes of the last century and with the ancient realm of goddesses. The transference of experience from one generation, or a phase in time, to the next, prompts the evolution of consciousness, which in the realm of Kuan Yin, depends on the capacity to channel and employ compassion.
Consequently, Kuan Yin has become an inspirational pattern for Compassionate Networked Art Forms. The dance of her many arms and eyes and her mythic association with sound and air, correlate with 21st century technologies of interactivity and connectivity that join, entangle and display through vision, movement and sound, waves and vibrations, different locations and situations in space-time.
Contemplating Kuan Yin, she has flooded my mind with images and sensations. I suddenly remembered Yva, a German Jewish photographer known for her multiple exposed images and avant-garde style. Yva was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp. I have embedded one of her photos, now in the public domain, showing a multiple image of a nude female dancer, within a visual landscape made of the body and multiple arms of the goddess.
Reflecting on the forthcoming year 2017, it is, undoubtedly, yet unknown how a civilization which is built on a narrative and culture of violence, could evolve into a compassionate web of life. Still, Kuan Yin’s presence in moments of crisis, may give rise to thresholds of change, hope and novelty.
Dr Lila Moore is the founder of The Cybernetic Futures Institute, an online academy for study of the spiritual in film, technoetic arts, screen dance and the exploration of consciousness. The courses and workshops take place online and in central London. Lila is an artist film-maker, screen choreographer, networked performance practitioner, educator and theorist. The CFI is based on her post-doctoral project at Planetary Collegium of Plymouth University (2015). Dr Moore holds a practice-based Ph.D. degree in Dance on Screen (2001) from Middlesex University and an M.A. in Film from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London. She researched film and the spiritual as Associate Research Fellow, London Metropolitan University, and has been teaching B.A. courses in Cinema and Spirituality, Film and Ritual as well as The Spiritual in Art as part of a BA in Mysticism and Spirituality at Zefat Academic College (2013-2017). She has presented her work internationally in academic conferences, cultural organisations, art galleries and networked platforms.