Now you see it, Now you don’t

Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Blog, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Now you see it, Now you don’t

(Scroll down for 2 new posters.)

I love a good metaphor. And the Gestalt concept of figure and ground (object and non-object) in two-dimensional images strikes me as a pretty good metaphor for duality consciousness. Our jumping off place, at least, is graphic arts.

Gestalt theories of visual perception and organization seek to understand how we humans interpret abstract or symbolic images in the context of what surrounds them. The FIGURE/GROUND principle specifically explores how the eye differentiates an object (a figure) from its (back)ground. Graphic design sometimes plays on this relationship, by including a surprise visual element within the ‘white space’ or negative space of the ‘canvas.’

Optical illusions are often based on seeing only one or the other of these complementary parts. In the classic examples below, we can perceptually flip back and forth and see either faces in profile or a pedestal, a young woman or an old woman, a man playing sax or a woman’s face, an Eskimo or (Native American) Indian.

images-2   images-6   images   images-5

There is an on-and-off-ness to this seeing, like flipping a light switch. Now you see it. Now you don’t. Which one is the illusion? Which one is real?

Identifying with a physical body, seeing the world through culturally conditioned eyes, and measuring ‘reality’ with a handful of very limited senses seems to switch off access to the non-physical, egoless oneness-consciousness that I know I also am. The fleeting experiences I’ve had of the latter are few (and have, at times, been assisted by drugs or meditation). But it’s always blissful and expansive, a luminous melding into Love, and feels like coming home to the real me. So which ‘me’ is the illusion? Which is real?


























Mystics, poets and scholars have explored this concept of nonduality in great depth for eons. Some thoughts to ponder:

“Nonduality is the modern day western interpretation of the eastern spiritual teaching of Advaita. Nonduality is often referred to as neo advaita. It means not two or one and essentially is a search for truth and reveals the oneness of universal creation and reveals the illusion of separateness. It is basically what all the major religions point to but transcends the story telling and the I am right you are wrong mentality. It actually transcends the I and the you altogether.”
Read more of this forum thread

“It is extremely difficult to adequately discuss no-boundary awareness or nondual consciousness. This is because our language — the medium in which all verbal discussion must float — is a language of boundaries. Words and symbols and thoughts themselves are actually nothing but boundaries, for whenever you think or use a word or name, you are already creating boundaries. It is for these reasons that the mystic-sages stress that reality lies beyond names and forms, words and thoughts, divisions and boundaries. Beyond all boundaries lies the real world of Suchness, the Void, the Dharmakaya, Tao, Brahman, the Godhead. And in the world of suchness, there is neither good nor bad, saint nor sinner, birth nor death, for in the world of suchness there are no boundaries.”
― Ken Wilber, No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth

“The world outside your skin is just as much you as the world inside: they move together inseparably, and at first you feel a little out of control because the world outside is so much vaster than the world inside. Yet you soon discover […] a feeling of the ground holding you up, and of hills lifting you when you climb them. Air breathes itself in and out of your lungs, and instead of looking and listening, light and sound come to you on their own. Eyes see and ears hear as wind blows and water flows. All space becomes your mind. Time carries you along like a river, but never flows out of the present.”
― Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Download print resolution 8.5 x 11″ pdf’s of the above (and 20 other) Posters Here.

Archived posts about other gestalt principles: Proximity and Contrast.

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