Monday, March 30, 2015

The Face of Christ Appears on a Painting

“Lead me to where I should lead them,
The little ones to my care You'll send ...:
Anselmo S Cabigan,  PhD 1995
Dr Abe V Rotor


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Dr Anselmo S Cabigan stands before the miraculous painting at a former university museum where hundreds of pilgrims and other visitors for the last fifteen years saw and pondered on it. It is said that the image remains obscure, and appears only to keen observers. The photos here have been edited to enhance the image.
NOTE: 
I received queries if the painting has any message at all. I heard comments to relate the painting with the growing problems of the world, notably the recent earthquake in Japan that sent tsunami inland and radiation from broken nuclear plants into the atmosphere. Simultaneously the Arab world is engulfed with social unrest heretofore unimagined, other grave problems like global warming and global recession, notwithstanding. I am therefore reprinting this article earlier posted in this blog in response to our audience's request. Please enter your comments at the end of the article. Thank you.



Into Your Light

Lead me to where I should lead them,
The little ones to my care You'll send;
That they may solve this awesome maze
And burst out bright into Your Light." 

Anselmo S Cabigan, 1995

Did you see the face of Christ?”

“Where?”

"On a painting.”

"What is this they are talking about, " I asked Sel.

We went to the Audio-Visual Room, spent a moment of silence as we searched for the Face on the 36" x 24" landscape painting. It was painted and a month ago, and presented in a seminar-workshop at then St. Paul College QC. The theme signifies unity and cooperation among faculty and staff members.

"Can you see it?” I asked.

Sel traced the outline, his finger touching the rough canvas.

"Can you see it?” He threw back the question.

"I see a different one,” I countered and traced the figure differently.

Silence fell again. We exchanged notes and soon enough we were looking at the same face.

Were we seeing The Thing, or only imagining it?

I recalled a story, Images of Illusion. A man was viewing an antique painting and saw himself as one of the torturers of Christ.

“Impossible,” he raged. How could it be possible for the painter to have composed a scenery combining a biblical event and a future character? He demanded the art gallery an explanation.

What is illusion?

In metaphysics, the workings of the human mind have been the subject of research and discourse from the time of Plato who coined psyche or mind or soul, to Kant whose theory of Existentialism remains as the binding force of man and his Creator which is a fundamental doctrine of major religions. Lately, Jung's primary idea of a person as a whole, and not as assemblage of parts, gave rise to the modern concept of holistic personality. Jung’s work as a psychoanalyst was to recover the lost wholeness of personality, and to strengthen the psyche through the process of psychoanalysis and psycho synthesis.

What Jung was saying is that the mind is made up of three levels: the consciousness, the only part of the mind that is known directly by the individual; the personal unconscious which is the level of the mind that adjoins the ego: and the collective unconscious which he inherited from his ancestral past. All three levels are always in a dynamic state. They are never static like a rock or a tree.

When one is afraid of the dark he is expressing the collective unconscious. If he is afraid a the dark because he may be kidnapped, he is expressing the personal unconscious level, an experience which may have been created by distraught thoughts or brought about by personal conflict or raised a moral issue before. In the dark he may be "seeing” a would-be kidnapper at the slightest suggestion.

Now where does the first level come in? His conscious awareness is put to test in such a situation. He then makes to fullest use his four mental functions, which Jung called thinking, feeling, sensing and intuiting. Depending on the development of these faculties from the time of his birth to his present age, the individual tries to overcome - or enhance - the other two levels of the mind which at that moment has caused in him fear.

What I am saying is that a mental image may arise from the interplay of the three levels of the mind. First, there is the “model” or an archetype from which the consciousness makes something out of it. This, in turn, is pictured or deleted in the mind through consciousness.

When Sel and I stood before the painting searching we had different archetypes in our mind. But people who have been raised in the same environment and had undergone similar training have many common archetypes from which images can be similarly patterned.

Suppose one does not readily take from the mind's bank a suitable archetype?

“I don't see anything.”

“Face of Christ, you said?”

"What are you talking about? I can only see trees and a stream flowing through them.”

"I still cannot figure it out.”

These observers, based on Jungian psychology, did not have the archetype at the moment to suit the picture they are looking for.

Quite often discussions may ensue while viewing the piece with someone taking the role of a teacher, or one insisting of seeing another thing.

Again, according to Jung, archetypes can be enlarged or reinforced so that they can surface with the help of the consciousness. However, this may not always work.

“I can see it now.”

“Yes, there it is. There is a bigger one beside it. No, actually there are three faces.”

“There is Blessed Virgin Mary at the center.”

“But it looks like a resurrected Christ.”

“See the trunk at the right? Scourging at the pillar.”

"My God! There's a devil clinging on Christ's nose.”

Now, now, the painting is getting overloaded,

As the painter I wanted to put it back to its real and down-to-earth perspective. It is a forest landscape, all right. The trees are the symbol of strength and unity; the flowing stream is life; the rocks are the obstacles we encounter in life; the light rays penetrating through the forest is hope and guidance; the forest itself characterizes the present world we live in; and the central perspective of the painting leads us to the attainment of a common vision and goal.

As I was about to leave, a very young boy came along with his mother. His eyes were bright and his face radiated the innocence of a child.

"Do you see the little cross, mama?” He was pointing at a orange figure, an empty cross laid upon a rock. Then he scanned the whole piece and quickly pointed at things none of us had earlier seen.

“Here is the Holy Family. Here is baby Jesus. There you see angels. You can count them, 1, 2 3, 4, 5, 6..."

“There are thirty-three trees, I was told," interrupted his mother.

"Those are children playing, mama - there under the trees and on the rocks."

I stood beside, speechless. I realized I only read Plato, Kant and Jung. l did not consult the Greatest of them all. ~

Light in the Woods became the title of the painting, and a book of the same title was published by Megabooks Manila in 1995. The book was presented by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin to Pope John Paul II on his visit to the Philippines in 1995. The book is now a collectors' item.



Dr Cabigan and the author were classmates and co-workers in the government, and co-professors. They have known each other for the last 50 years. The painting was made after a poem composed by Dr Cabigan, Into Your Light (above). The original painting has been transferred to a secured place where it can be viewed on special arrangement. Photos of the painting are found in Light from the Old Arch, by AVR, UST Publishing House 2000; Nymphaea: Beauty in the Morning, AVR, Giraffe Books 1996;Light in the Woods, AVR, Megabooks, 1995, and Light from the Old Arch 2000, UST-AVR Publishing House.

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