2011 – oil on canvas, 160×200 cm / 63×79 in
“To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour”. William Blake
In his wonderful book “Le Cosmos et le Lotus” the astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan shows us that, “we are all dust of the stars, that we share the same cosmic history with animals and plants, and that we are all connected throughout space and time, giving us an acute sense of interdependence inducing compassion into our hearts. We realize that our happiness depends on all others. It makes us aware of the vulnerability of our planet and of our isolation in the universe and it gives us the understanding that our industrial poisons, our nuclear scores and the greenhouse gases affect us all, independent from any national, cultural or religious boundary”.
So why is it then that humanity is not living according to this insight? Is it all Prometheus’ fault or also our own? When Prometheus stole the fire from Zeus and gave it to humanity, the Gods took their terrible revenge, by inducing Pandora to open her box containing all the evils of the world. The box is still open today, and the evils described above are spreading uncontrolled across the globe. Once out of the box they are almost impossible to put back. Albert Einstein, the father of nuclear fission, made this sobering revelation when he tried to stop the development of the nuclear bomb based on his scientific discoveries.
We are, therefore, all sitting on a volcano, like the Kung-Fu monks of the Shaolin Monastery, shown in my painting. We should listen to them, because the Monks know from their practice of Zen Buddhism, that our lived interdependence requires compassion towards all beings. The Monks teach us, that, like in Einstein’s case, it is not enough to know, because scientific, rational thoughts have their limit. They must be complemented by mystical or religious intuition, the arts and poetry in our approach to final reality.
Of the trilogy of Love, Faith and Hope, essential for life, the only thing not to escape from Pandoras box was Hope. So Hope is still there, hope that humanity will hear the Voice of Conscience and rediscover the Force of Love. Should we fail, we can still try to follow the example of Prometheus in my painting: burned by fire, and unable to close Pandoras box, he decides to escape to the Moon.