THE THREE PILLARS OF LEARNING
A Journey from Thought to Action by Samuel Avital
I N T R O D U C T I O N
It is not innate in the human character to dwell deeply in the heart of any subject by inquiring into it, research and truly mastering all facets of the subject. Especially now, in our time, when this society willingly accepts mediocrity and the appearance, rather than the actuality of excellence. People are not generally encouraged to develop more than one per cent of their learning potential of a subject or an art.
Therefore, it is advisable for the serious future artist to ask the right questions and to have the model of his goal very clearly in mind, for he or she will receive little reinforcement from the surroundings. He or she must be prepared for dedicated study. It is only in the repetition of the craft that he or she masters the art. Only when the craft becomes second nature can one begin to create from his or her inner being the forms, images and conceptions to create within that art.
In mime, as in other arts, the student must discover himself. He needs to recognize how the Law of the Triangle applies to his study, as to any art. Just as the seed first roots, grows tall and flowers, and finally bears fruit, so does a student learn, discover, and finally create within his or her art.
The student passes through three stages, three points of the triangle, the “Three Pillars of Becoming an Artist.” At the first point of the triangle, the SKILL is mastered. At the second point of the triangle, the student is a craftsman. He applies what he has learned to the CRAFT. These two initial developmental stages culminate into the third point, wherein, the student, artist or master creates the ART.
The vision of these “three pillars,” SKILL, CRAFT, and ART could encourage the student to become an artist. A conscious functional being who transforms the world he perceives via his art, sharing his expertise and his inspiration in his presentation of an inner vision that transcends the finite.
S K I L L
In order to become an apprentice, one must already want to learn and be willing to pursue his or her chosen art by undertaking the necessary tasks to master it. Few people are willing to dedicate themselves to the long and arduous path to the mastery of an art, and few are willing to place themselves in the apprenticeship of a teacher.
A human being is like a seed. Every human being is endowed with gifts from the mother and father. These gifts are the being’s talents. These talents are his or her sustenance and nutrition, just as the food for the potential plant is already contained in the seed. The wise farmer who nurtures the see is like the teacher.
When a person decides to become an apprentice to an art, he or she takes root. When a seed roots, it pushes away from the warming sun into the resisting earth, searching blindly, pushing all obstacles away. The apprentice does the same. The farmer provides the necessary nutrients and a steady flow of water. The teacher does the same. The root must receive the nutrients and must learn to differentiate between what is good and bad for it. It must struggle within the earth’s confines.
The teacher gives various tasks to the qualified apprentice. The student must master the techniques of the art. He or she must become a physical technician, learning to “play the instrument.” For the mime student, the instrument is the physical body. Balance, gesture, and clarity of expression must be mastered. The student learns specific skills through trial and error. He learns one thing at a time. He sharpens his tools. He deals with the ego, taking direction from others in the correct manner of doing.
The apprentice must trust and depend upon the eyes of the teacher. The teacher provides circumstances that reveal the random tendencies and incomplete efforts of the student. He also provides circumstances for the student to experience artistic inspiration. Artistic inspiration is like the sun. It warms the apprentice/root and urges it onward. It inspires the apprentice to aim his sights high, usually beyond his capacity to realize.
Thus, apprenticeship is a dark and difficult period. The student does not see where he is going. Being still “underground,” the student makes many mistakes, often resulting in shame, fear, self-blame and hostility to the work. In the desire to advancement of skills, urgency and impatience tend to make the student seek short cuts, which limit the full development of the skills.
This resistance is very important for the continuation of life. It saves the student from harm, but it also holds him back from accomplishing what he can. Students can be resistant to different things including the task, the teacher, and other students, trying, and succeeding, failing, testing, exertion. If the student does not do the tasks set for him; he will not learn the lesson. Teachers need a great deal of patience, for it often takes students a long time to overcome their resistance.
The apprentice struggles with self-discipline, with learning what nutrients to absorb, and with his or her habits. As with the root, this is done in darkness, without knowledge of the end and without reward. The tasks provided by the teacher are suited to individual growth. For example, in mime, the student must continue to do physical exercise daily. He must learn the involuntary processes of the body. He must train the body and the imagination with a variety of both repetitive and new tasks. One root is not enough. One skill is not sufficient for the apprentice. The more struggle, the more roots, the stronger the plant.
When the student is able to perform any tasks without resistance or negativity, then, he or she is able to develop the needed skills for self-expression. Only when the skills become second nature, will the apprentice be ready for the next stage in the development of the artist: The Craft.
C R A F T
When a person makes the transition from apprentice to craftsman, it is like the seedling that finally breaks through the earth into the sun and the air. The root has penetrated the earth deeply, conducting water and nutrients back to the seed in order finally to split it open.
The food within the seed is consumed, destroying it. But this very act begins the upward growth of the sprout. This vertical growth is the last effort of the apprentice. When the tiny plant breaks the earth, a great transition takes place. Before this event the plant knew only vertical growth, down and up. It knew only itself.
When it breaks into the air the seedling/ apprentice suddenly sees the world all around it. This view is staggering. It realizes that there is a horizontal as well as a vertical. It realizes that it is an insignificant little being in a large and indifferent world. It is real effort is just beginning.
The transition to craftsman begins when the student realizes this relationship he has to the world. His apprenticeship, which had been a source of resistance, is now seen as a solid base to build on. Thus, when a student becomes adept enough with his art, opportunities present themselves, which require him or her to make use of the skills. This can happen in many ways. The teacher may see that the student is ready and start to use him or her in ways demanding a synthesis of skills. The student might get a job requiring a similar synthesis. There exists a law of supply and demand in the universe such that when a need appears, simultaneously one appears to fill that need.
When a thing transmutes, such as in the changes from apprentice to craftsman, it changes its arena. The fledging craftsman takes the skills and puts them into some context. In the case of the mime craftsman, he or she begins to apply the physical and imaginative skills that have become second nature by creating productions. These are performed, tested by fire, before audiences. If the ideas work, the craftsman continues. If not, he or she reroutes the work.
The work of the craftsman is very visible. He is very much in the world. He is a master of technique and he learns to apply it to perfection. He works to perfect his art. The craftsman is an organizer; he is adept, but not necessarily inspired. He goes to seek his own horizon. He examines his own personal cycles and then learns the rules or cycles of the universe. If the conditions are favorable, the plant grows very tall and strong, putting out foliage and beautiful flowers. The downward growth of the roots continues. The roots continue to feed the adult plant. Many natural disasters may befall the plant as it continues to reach toward the sun.
The craftsman continues to be a student. He may begin to teach other students the basic skills. He can see from where he has come and to where he is going. He must withstand many tests: high wind, scorching heat, and bitter cold, lack of nutrition, lack of water. But the question for the plant always remains – will it bear fruit?
The craftsman labors day and night. He fashions his sustenance by day and receives the medium of expression by night. Only if he is conscious of this can he proceed toward becoming transformed. If this consciousness is not fully developed, he will become ordered, efficient and versatile, but not inspired. He will remain a perfect closed system, but will not allow the creative impulse to enter from the unknown.
A R T I S T
The artist is the one who steps into the unknown and acts as though it was just another day. In order for the plant to perpetuate it self, it must bear fruit. The seeds must be scattered to the winds, falling invisibly in many places, then growing silently to foster new plants to bear new fruit. The development of the fruit is imperative to the continuation of the cycle.
The great challenge to the aspirant artist is the balancing of the physical and the inspiration. When the student/craftsman develops into the artist, he must become receptive to the unknown, the unseen. He must search for his source, the essence of his original seed. But the world, sophisticated and fast moving, never encourages such an inner search.
A plant does not bear fruit unless all the conditions and the growth are balanced. If the growth of foliage parallels the advance of root growth, there is promise. If the plant blooms too early, the subsequent loss of energy brings premature death. Threats to the organism can cause stasis, in the case of the craftsman becoming artist, rigidity and caution. If the leaves grow too luxuriantly, the plant grows abundantly beautiful, but it does not produce fruit. Such stalks have the appearance of fertility, but the lack of purpose in their efforts shows them to be merely vigorous.
The artist must provide continuity for the invisible. He or she is a pure vessel and is always alone. Inspiration comes from being cognizant of the natural order of the world. The artist seeks what is behind the veil, and in doing so, gets in touch with the creative light – the Sun. The artist is like anyone else, but in his deepest being, he is a creator knowing all the steps a student must take. The artist has experienced time as well, and has learned how to condense actions and thoughts very speedily. In doing so, the artist works beyond time. He is ever-changing, yet precise. He can create and transform beyond all techniques. The techniques he has mastered are only aids to the self-expression he reaches for deep within himself. He creates the forms, images and conceptions that form the art from his inner being, reaching the highest in people. He acts unexpectedly, transcending skills, creating surprises, fusing life and art.
The student/artist knows HOW to learn; never forgetting that one ceases to be an artist when one stops learning. He must discover for himself the additional learning task he faces. Being an artist requires great self-discipline and sincere dedication.
The artist is challenged to invent new ways to symbolize and communicate ancient truths. He must stay in touch with his source through attunement to spiritual reality in order to discover the ultimate creativity in himself. He is a transformer. He has merged the personal and the impersonal into a transcendent level, a measure of both, in harmony and unison. In doing so, he works on many levels at once, touching everyone. He transforms raw material to gold.
The mime artist shapes the invisible space. He or she achieves unity between himself and all present in the audience by tuning the vibrations with his actions. To do this the artist must discover not only his own rhythmic inner music, but that of the whole audience as well. He is able to do this because mime, or any art, originates from the depths of silence, from the self-search for cosmic expression of the essence of life, which is in all. Thus, the artist opens new spaces in our consciousness by being a mirror of the epoch. The members of the audience see themselves and are transformed. Through the union of the mime artist audience, mind-body, an individual-group consciousness is achieved.
C O N C L U S I O N
We have seen how the “Law of the Triangle” applies to the “Three Pillars of Becoming an Artist.” The third point, the artist, is built on, the synthesis of the other two: The apprentice and the craftsman. All students have various tasks facing them. The apprentice is given tasks by his teacher or situations, which he faces with a certain amount of resistance. The apprentice learns the skills necessary in order to know the self and others. The tasks of the craftsman appear before him in the application of the skills he has learned as an apprentice. He discovers and sets new tasks for himself, and contributes from his creative process to the world.
The artist must persevere beyond the limited conventions and the unexamined assumptions consciously and continuously. He draws inspiration from the inner creative source and works invisibly, planting new seeds in the world, presenting an inner vision that transcends the finite, and creates something new that was not there before.
From “Mime and Beyond: The Silent Outcry” by Samuel Avital (Pages 6-10)