I’m working on a new book, “Blue Jesus.” I’ve been trying to discover my sister’s silent inner world. Dinah has Prader-Willi Syndrome. She’s mentally and physically disabled and has a vocabulary of about forty-five words. Dinah speaks in sentences of one, two, maybe three words. What lies behind her blue eyes is a mystery. The paradox is that I think she’s a visible icon of the unseen inner world; the world where God resides. In her visible world that is silent, Dinah is a mirror of God—a God who is also a silent mystery.
To begin to understand Dinah as a total person—mind, body, psyche, and spirit—I started with her name. What’s in a name? I think Dinah, and I, and everyone would be a different person if we had been given some other name. A name can be a key to understanding who we are, our history, our psychic DNA—our name can give us clues to understanding our inner world, our soul, our unconscious if you will. “Dinah” a Hebrew name found in the Bible, which means, “one who knows and discerns.” That’s a pretty fair description of my sister. From out of her silence, at moments least expected, she can deliver a magical word of wisdom. For several years now, I’ve been on a quest to discover more than these few slivers of wisdom. I want to uncover her God given wisdom and I think that wisdom is hidden in her art.
Twenty years ago, Dinah created a linocut she titled, “Blue Jesus.” I’ve come to believe that “Blue Jesus” is Dinah’s self-portrait; it’s a picture of her soul. Dinah’s Blue Jesus is what Carl Jung called a mandala, a revelation from the inner world, the unconscious. Jung said that the mandala can reveal things hidden within our ancient unknown mysteries; even when we may not be able to articulate or even understand the meaning of the art we created. Dinah’s art, seen as a mandala, can reveal what’s happening in her silent world.
Along with Blue Jesus, at least three other pieces of Dinah’s artwork could be considered mandalas. In particular: The Rooster, The Stars, and The Sunrise. These four mandalas contain multiple layers of ancient hidden symbols and meanings that are windows into her inner world.
“The Rooster” is a sun-animal, a god of time, a symbol equated with resurrection. Dinah’s rooster has a blue heart—like Blue Jesus—blue often represents wisdom and clarity of thought. The Rooster is crowing at the sun. In the center of the sun, Dinah pained a green eye. These colors and images all have rich meanings.
“The Stars” depict heavenly images as squares, divided into four spaces, each surrounded by triangles. Such symbolism is alchemical and provides a profound opportunity to explore Dinah’s personal process of maturation; what Jung called individuation.
“The Sunrise,” I believe, is an expression of her journey into higher levels of consciousness. The sun rises out of a sea of mysterious faces. The brilliant yellow sun, the symbol of the philosopher’s stone, of higher consciousness, radiates with the multiple colors of the peacock’s tail—a symbol of the development of Dinah’s inner world.
I have yet to scratch the surface of the meaning hidden within these pieces of art. This is just a glimpse into the process of what it’s like for any of us to uncover our own inner, unconscious world.
Such inner work is vitally important for all of us. If we are willing to dive deep into our interior world, our psychic DNA, through dream work, exploring our own mandalas, meditation, and having a spiritual companion, we can expand our personal consciousness and deepen our relationship with the Divine.
The goal is to integrate our inner life with our outer life. By doing this work of the soul, we can begin to understand who we really are and who we can become. This work also gives us the chance to change those things about our lives that we don’t like. Those unwanted behaviors we repeat over and over again. Those things we hate about ourselves, but we feel like we are stuck with and can’t change. Instead of fighting against the things we fear the most, we can actually see those things transform. In other words, we might find a way to not repeat our personal history. Instead we can strike out in a new direction, into a higher plane of consciousness, into the realm of God, and into the life that Jesus the Cosmic Christ said would be “abundant.” A world where the sun rises out of the abyss.
According to Jung, what’s critically important for us as individuals is also important for our community. He says that if we are willing to do our personal work, it will, in turn, impact our community, our nation, even the world. This is so, he says, because our soul is connected to the soul of the community, the soul of the world, and, of course, the soul work of Divine. We are interconnected with all of the cosmic creation.
Carl Jung lived through two World Wars. He struggled in his attempt to explain how a country like Germany, enlightened, wealthy, and strong could fall prey to the mass hysteria of Nazism. His found his answer is the unexplored world of the personal and collective unconscious.
Jung found that if people are unwilling to do their personal work toward a level of higher consciousness, then they are doomed to follow the loudest voice, even if it’s not a rational voice. And eventually, he says, they will repeat history because they have not done the work to unite the inner world with the outer world.
How do we bring these things out of the shadows of the inner world and into the light of consciousness so that we don’t repeat our individual or communal history?
First, we must identify what’s hiding in the shadows of our community and then we must accept some responsibility for our work on these denials and repressions. Second, we have to look into our own shadow. What do we have in our personal DNA that feeds into this corporate shadow? Third, we must ask ourselves how we are going to work on our own stuff in a way that will positively affect the collective? In other words, how do we share our inner world with the outer world in ways that are not “all about me,” but instead for the collective health.
Such is my sister’s work. She can’t tell you what she’s thinking, but she can show you. Her art is sacred because it not only reflects her inner world, but the world of the Divine. She is an artist of the holy. Not because she is simple, or naïve, or untouched by the evil of the world. Actually, the opposite is true. She has suffered the fears that disturb us all, trauma, anger at injustice, death. Yet, by doing the hard work of revealing her inner world, she has moved her outer world onto a higher plane for all to see. And this level of consciousness has brought to her a place where she can hold power accountable by exhibiting unconditional love. She can hold the opposites of power and love in the tension of her own vulnerability. Those who have the ears and heart to hear Dinah are transformed, changed in ways they may not be able to articulate any better than she can. She is doing her part to change the world without using words.