Interview with Alan Steinfeld, author and founder of NewRealities.com.
Gil Dekel: You are writing about the artist’s role in creating new realities. Do you think there is a unique or specific way that artists see or experience reality?
Alan Steinfeld: The artist feels something on a subtle level and is driven to express that, not from a conscious mind but from a subconscious mind. Artists create new forms, for example, the Expressionists who added colour that didn’t make sense to the literal world. These artists painted a person’s face blue or red. Everyone said, ‘What’s that about?’ and the artist replied, ‘This is this feeling of what I am trying to say.’ It’s not the actuality; it is the feeling behind it.
I think that artists are more in touch with subtle feelings, which by expressing, they help others to recognize. The painter Alex Grey, for instance, paints these energy fields, and when I am in the gallery looking at his work I overhear people say, ‘Yes, that’s what happened to me.’
This artist expressed experiences that other people had felt. So the role of the artist is to express these new realities, so other people can recognize their experiences. In this way, art helps civilizations to evolve on the level of feelings.
This particular drive for expression isn’t exclusively for artists, or rather, I would say that we are all artists, but we have been so conditioned to look at things one simple way. Really, the world is full of different ways of looking… Look at patterns of perception, look at trees and leaves and just express what you see. The deepest need every human has is first to feel, then to express that…
Is there something unique in the way that artists feel and express themselves?
The artist is a rebel, tearing down what has been established and replacing it with a new order. Most people want to maintain the old order, but the only way civilization or people can evolve is through dynamic equilibrium. Static equilibrium is part of decay, but the dynamics that an artist brings to the world involve change and transition that feed new energy into the culture.
Essentially, someone comes forth and says, ‘This is how I see the world, this is what I’m feeling. I may not know what it means but this is it.’ Other people take that in and a new pattern of cognition is formed within the collective psyche of the civilization.
Art shakes people up and moves them forward. Ezra Pound said, ‘The artist is the antenna of the race.’ Artists point out new patterns, and suddenly scientists see things differently. I do think it was artists who inspired physicists like Einstein to start to see the world differently. Leonard Shlain, in his book Art & Physics, says that the artist comes along and inspires people in perception, and the rest of the world then picks it up and uses that to create new choices about how they see reality.
The idea of the artist as antenna makes me think of channelling.
Yes. Channelling and mystical experience have been with us throughout the history of civilization. In the Bible, all the prophets were channels. In Greece, the Oracle of Delphi and the Pythoness were channelling.
I think art also is a channelling of spirit. There’s no separation. A lot of people who channel are also channelling their own creative passion. People have always had this relationship to what Freud called the unconscious. Jung’s understanding was that the unconscious was connected to something bigger than just the personality.
All the great poets say, ‘I don’t know where all this comes from. I don’t know where the inspiration is.’ They can’t pinpoint it. My theory is that it comes from the right brain that feeds into the left brain. The right brain is in touch with these higher levels and the left brain is the ego-personality that sees the world linearly.
The right brain sees patterns, and the left brain that sees the individual things. It’s like the forest vs. the trees. We need both; we need the feedback between the big and the small picture, the one and the many. This is the duality of human experiences…
There’s a saying that in order to ask a question you must have the answer inside you. And I’ve got a theory on where that answer is located. I believe it’s in your right brain. It’s in the unconscious part of that creative aspect of you. The left brain gets a sense of it and asks a question because the answer is located in the other part of our mind that we can’t consciously access. So by asking a question we’re trying to understand what we already know, but we don’t know that we know it…
This is why Joan Didion says, ‘I write in order to find out what I know.’ Painters say, ‘I want to see what I’ll see,’ and they’ll paint something. The purpose of all art and literature is to access those answers which we have hidden inside us.
Think of it this way: your personal computer is like your left brain, and then there is a connection to the internet. If you don’t know about the internet you just won’t be able to access what’s there. But once you realize you have this connection to something bigger you can access a lot more information. In this analogy (and this is just theory, I don’t think I’ve seen this in any scientific literature), we’re accessing the internet of unconscious through our right brain, getting more information and using it in our own way to express our personal feelings.
I think the brain has yet to realize its full potential, and because there’s a shift in the energy of the planet people are opening up more psychic capacities. That’s why the role of the artist is more important than ever, showing us new ways of using our brain, new ways of perception. The whole history of art is the history of perception and, in a way, psychic awareness.
How do you see this new psychic awareness in the world?
When a new order is being established, the three essential ways we cognize the world (art, science, and religion) are coming together. We are now at the peak of a new epoch where these three are merging, and then will disperse again. A lot of scientists are just as inspired as artists are to see the world differently. They are using creativity to understand the physical world.
Nassim Haramein has said that it’s the space between things that defines us and defines the things. And Falco, from Damanhur in Italy, says that objects have not just a physical property, they have a temporal property, meaning they’re located in time, and that’s a property of the object, location in time/space. This type of creativity is coming into science to open us up to new ideas of what may seem impossible.
It’s essential for change that we believe in the impossible. It’s only when people dream the impossible that things ever change. People for a long time thought that flight was impossible. Even as early as the 1900’s they said, ‘How can a machine fly through the air?’ It’s because other people said, ‘We can do the impossible,’ that intercontinental flight is now routine. When the impossible is realized, the world changes.
Right now what is common day to us was once impossible. The fact that you can speak to anyone, anywhere in the world, in a second, was impossible a hundred years ago. It’s the impossible that stimulates the artist to create those new realities which change everything.
So the artist sees the impossible and is stimulated by it?
Some have experienced these new realities through what Castaneda called non-ordinary awareness. You’ve slipped out of the daily world, and you’re actually living in new reality. The world is suddenly formed differently. The perception has shifted. Light takes on a different tone, and the patterns of the world around you stand out. William James, in The Variety of Religious Experience, says that separated by the thinnest of veils are these alternate realities that can be perceived in a second. This peak-experience happens because suddenly your reality has shifted, maybe through medication or maybe just through open-eyed gazing.
These experiences don’t fit into the old scientific paradigm, but you know what the new scientific paradigm is? It’s a paradigm of experience. No one can argue with your experience. They may not believe it, but your experience is true for you. It is your truth, and it’s your reality.
The paradigm of experience means we have to understand that the world is not an objective reality where we treat our experience as an object. It’s a subjective experience where we must treat ourselves as a subject of the world, not an object of the world. This puts us more in control of our lives. More people are taking their bodies into their own hands; they’re looking at alternatives and not just believing the mainstream. That gives people value back to themselves.
With this comes a new understanding that the body is not an object anymore. It’s not just something that carries the head around, or feels good once in a while. The whole body becomes the subject. And once you have a subjective experience of who you are, you start to experience your body in different ways. You start to sense, and to feel yourself more grounded on the earth. You connect to the earth more because you are a walking piece of the earth. The body is the earth.
The artist in us all is the reason we’ve incarnated – to express what hasn’t been expressed before, so we can feel the subtleties of what it is to be this great being. The wind on your face, the sun on your skin, these sensorial experiences wake the soul to a greater depth of its own existence. This is why we’re here in physical form, to experience this world that we’ve created. If we were just in the non-physical world we’d never get to experience our creation. It’s as if we’re painting the picture, but we’re still in the painting. We’re painting, and we’re experiencing what we’re painting in a sensorial way, in a feeling way.
It’s through the incarnational experience that we can fully embrace all levels of reality, from the physical up to the highest spiritual level.
So why is it in the physical that we’ve chosen to do that?
Because this is the lowest form, the densest place. And like they say in New York, if you can do it here you can do it anywhere. This is where the most fun is, where it all comes together. When you can fully embody the totality of the human experience, you ascend this body, meaning you get to take a piece of the earth back into those higher levels of consciousness. So embrace your physical body because in a way it’s the highest form of God.
And are these experiences available to anyone?
Absolutely. I haven’t seen anyone that hasn’t had a creative spark in them. Everybody is the same. You can look into people’s eyes and see their soul. The level of the soul is the same in every person; we’re all equal that way. We all have the same capacity.
You have been sitting with many Spiritual Teachers during your long career. What do you feel when you meet a great teacher?
When I am in the presence of someone who’s transcended to a different level of consciousness, I start to feel different. We are all empathic, so I start to feel the way they’re feeling and seeing the world. It’s as if my reality is actually shifting. I feel more present in the way that this great person is present, and then my own story drops away. I feel a presence that then becomes the presence that I am. They’re reflecting that part of me. And that’s exciting when I feel that.
I’m looking for anyone who sees the world in a different way. They could be a very spiritual teacher or a great Scientist like Bruce Lipton or Nassim Haramein. If someone can help you see a new reality then they’re a teacher. We’re all teachers for each other. The beggar on the street could be your teacher if you look at him in the right way.
Some people, however, have reached a level of their own potential that is inspiring for me. Some masters like Ammachi or Amma have transcended the personality, basically. They’ve reached a divine connection, a direct connection. But not everyone who says they’re a master is a master. I’ve met many who I felt were more evolved on the ego. People can call themselves anything they want; it doesn’t mean that they’re more evolved, or that they can show you the way. A master can only show you where they’ve been. If you’ve already been there then you need a different teacher. It comes down to personal discretion. I’m very particular. The people I have on my website are people I can learn from.
There’s a lot of spiritual ego out there. That’s one of the challenges, not to get trapped in your ego. I think it’s best to be humble. And to keep asking yourself, ‘What can I learn from this person?’ We can learn from anyone.
13 May 2010. Image upload 16 Jan 2016.
Text © Alan Steinfeld and Gil Dekel.
Interview conducted over the phone, Friday 4 Dec 2009.
Alan is based in NY, USA. Gil is based in Southampton, UK.