The evidence that all beings are connected is revealed before us every day. On Earth, nearly four billion years ago the only life was blue-green algae; now our human consciousness contemplates that fact and marvels at the miraculously diverse biological bloom of creation we share with all beings. There is continuity between individual existence, the environment, and the entire universe. It took a cosmos to birth an Earth and an Earth to birth a life web and a life web to evolve into a human being. Yes, we need our lungs to breathe, but we need air, and to have air we need trees, part of our extended terrestrial body. The lung would not exist without the tree.
A meme is a parcel of cultural meaning, a shared value, a trojan horse for a worldview. Transmission of a meme often occurs through iconography. The journey of a visual meme through the cultural body presents an icon vector, the wake of an image through time and the collective mind. Art is a consciousness evolutionary tool because of its ability to transmit memes.
A community is a net of beings, a web of relationships, selves united through a shared vision and language, a shared set of meanings. Over the past decade, as Allyson and I have traveled the planet, we see how my paintings have been integrated by various subcultures, from spiritual seekers and healers, tattooists, and rockers, to psychonauts and other visionary artists. The Net of Being icon was catapulted into the mindstream of millions of people in 2006, when the band Tool used this artwork on their Grammy Award-winning album cover, 10,000 Days, followed by the 3-D fly-through space in the video “Vicarious” as the backdrop for multiple tours, and on t-shirts and other merchandise.
The painting Net of Being proposes an archetypal symbol for the networked Self, an infinitely interconnected transcendental node seeing in every direction, part of a vast continuum of Godselves. The value of the image is in its symbolic transmission of sacred interconnectedness. Wearing a Net of Being symbol on one’s body as clothing or a tattoo acknowledges our part in a vastness greater than ourselves.
This book is dedicated to the worldwide love tribe, people who have seen beyond the boundaries of skin, tradition, and nation to find a cosmic spirit of love, creating the world and its Net of Being.
Net of Being
Installation view, OCC Frank M. Doyle Art Pavilion, California 2009
Under our eyes in our lifetime we are seeing an old world dissolving and a new world coming into existence. . . . Between the death of one civilization and the rise of a new one are creative minorities who, with deep spiritual motivation, begin to birth a new civilization from the ashes of the old.
In his influential twelve-volume A Study of History, Arnold Toynbee presents a comparative analysis of 26 civilizations. After of a life spent studying the rise and fall of complex societies, he posited that civilizations exist to give birth to better religions. Cultures fall as they become distant from their spiritual core and rise as new, more effective ways of uniting with the divine are disclosed. We are currently undergoing the birth pangs of a planetary civilization. What is the path and what are the icons that will reinforce the emergence of WorldSpirit?
The Dalai Lama tells us that kindness is the universal religion and that a genuine smile the result of a heart of compassion. Compassion comes from recognizing the fragility and vulnerability of our brothers and sisters and all creatures great and small in the dance of impermanence that is our brief span of life. We are part of a planetary consciousness, an interconnectedness of all beings, both material and spiritual in a hierarchy both natural and supernatural. Beyond gender, race, nation, and creed, WorldSpirit honors the Earth we share, acknowledging our common embeddedness in the environment.
Around 3.7 billion years ago, an unbelievable miracle took place on Earth: the first life began to appear. Proliferating for 2 billion years and transforming the planet’s atmosphere to support life, blue-green algae were the primordial parent cells for all plants and creatures. The self-portrait drawing, Staring Down the Great Chain of Being, faces the tree of life and cosmogenesis as foundations of our personal and collective existence. When WorldSpirit awakens within us, we align our soul with the sacred beauty of nature.
At this critical time, we are called into action to preserve our environment after modern industry’s catastrophic impact. Habitat collapse and extinction caused by our willful, greedy consumptive species is out of control and on a suicidal course. The human unconscious shares tremendous grief and guilt over this destruction, leading to an epidemic of depression medicated with legal and illegal drugs. Humankind must acknowledge its errors, actively grieve and beg forgiveness from Mother Earth. Loving our planet, we realize the miracle of the interdependent Net of Beings, from the tiniest microorganisms to giant whales singing in the deep. Conscious of WorldSpirit, we hear the cry of nature and compassionately, wisely, and creatively act to awaken one another to heal what remains of God’s gift to us.
Net of Being
• Includes over 200 reproductions of Grey’s artwork
• Contains spectacular photos of Grey’s collaboration with the cult band TOOL plus his worldwide live-painting performances
• Offers Grey’s reflections on how art evolves consciousness with a new symbology of the Networked Self
• Winner of the 2013 Nautilus Silver Book Award in Photography and Art
Revealing the interwoven energies of body and soul, love and spirit that illuminate the core of each being, Alex Grey’s mystic paintings articulate the realms of consciousness encountered during visits to entheogenic heaven worlds. His painting Net of Being--inspired by a blazing vision of an infinite grid of Godheads during an ayahuasca journey--has reached millions as the cover and interior of the band TOOL’s Grammy award–winning triple-platinum album, 10,000 Days. Net of Being is one of many images Grey has created that have resulted in a chain reaction of uses--from apparel and jewelry to tattoos and music videos--embedding these iconic works into our culture’s living Net of Being.
The book explores how the mystical experience expressed in Alex Grey’s work opens a new understanding of our shared consciousness and unveils the deep influence art can have on cultural evolution. The narrative progresses through a successive expansion of identity--from the self, to self and beloved, to self and community, world spirit, and cosmic consciousness, where bodies are transparent to galactic energies. Presenting over 200 images, including many never-before-reproduced paintings as well as masterworks such as St. Albert and the LSD Revelation Revolution and Godself, the book also documents performance art, live-painting on stage throughout the world, and the “social sculpture” called CoSM, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, that Grey cofounded with his wife and creative collaborator, artist Allyson Grey.