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My “Mandala” Drawings and their Meanings
Adam Blatner

Revised and Re-Posted  June 12, 2013

For those who have enjoyed those funny circular cartoon-doodles and mandalas, also on my past Christmas Holiday cartoons that I have made, here is an explanation: They are spontaneous images that communicate the following intuition: Existence emerges as a manifestation of higher-dimensional dynamics.  (My latest explanation is that they are the thought-bubbles of the inter-dimensionettes.)

Of course, what is being called out is a paradigm shift, a rather mythic and unusual perspective on the nature of existence. Actually, it reflects one of the oldest of ideas, that our world is in part an illusion, that we are more than we seem. The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, wrote in one of his discourses what is known as the parable of the cave–an attempt to illustrate this idea by imagining a world wherein the people in the cave saw themselves only as their own shadows, and came to believe in themselves as two-dimensional beings–until someone escaped from the cave and discovered the three-dimensional, color and light-filled world; yet when this adventurer tried to explain his discovery to the people back in the cave, they thought him mad.

More recently, a sage speculated: What if instead of thinking that we as physical beings have occasional spiritual experiences, we recognized that we are essentially spiritual beings who are for a time having a physical experience?!

My hunch is that there are other dimensions–an idea also posited by recent cosmologists who are trying to explain a number of the mysteries of both sub-atomic and also astro-physics. What these folks can’t recognize, because their fundamental assumptions are materialistic and reductionistic, is that we might consider the possibility that some or many of those “higher” dimensions are more mind-like than extensions of space-time.

Once Einstein called time a dimension, he re-defined the idea of dimension, away from merely a spatial category and instead to a being a category of influence that affects all other dimensions. Were this shift to be further applied, the realm of mind could arguably apply to this metaphysical scheme. An extension of this idea of higher dimensions is that it might explain to some degree how psychic and spiritual phenomena operate in the cosmos, and how it is possible for there to be a different type of truth associated with myth, even though it might not apply to the realm of fact.

My doodle-cartoon art that expresses mandala-forms, those circular, generally (but by no means exactly) symmetrical circular drawings, usually showing a center and elaborations of the center towards the outer rings, is meant to suggest our perspective of the multi-leveled nature of higher reality. These circles should be imagined as if we were able to peer upwards from the bottom of a Christmas-tree like cone of outflowing process.

In a sense, this sensibility also partakes of my discussions elsewhere on this website of the kabbalistic tree of life. The more central elements represent the higher and less distinctly formed outflow of creative energy, which takes on form as it moves “down” into our three-dimensional space-time of manifest existence.

Ideally, I would have the reader-observer imagine that these forms are also in dynamic movement, at times revolving, or giving the illusion of flowing outwards, like a kaleidescope; at times swirling, or spinning off associated fragments and forms. The symbolic significance of this is the intuition that in the higher dimensions of mind lie insights, inspirations, visions, mystical experiences that cannot be expressed in ordinary language (i.e., “ineffable”), the realms of shamanic beings (i.e., the “nagual”), visions of past lives and near death experiences, dreams, and so forth. Musical forms, mathematical forms, and related mind-like abstractions also find expression in these artistic expressions.

Each moment, the Divine creative unfolding occurs both with subtle gradualness and also near-instantaneous flickers, and at every level of size from the astronomical to the sub-atomic, at every level of energy from the star-exploding to the finest hum of a photon, at every level of speed. Add to these the trans-space-time-energy-matter dimensional qualities, aesthetic qualities, from the novel to the familiar, the profound to the superficial, the integrated to the isolated, and so forth.

In other art form expressions I use, I suggest also angels and their more focused or rudimentary counterparts, faeries and elves and sprites, suggesting that “resonant psychic energy fields”–for that is what I think they are–occur in harmonic overtones with all physical forms of existence.

If you could watch the autumn leaves change on a tree with time-lapse photography, so the whole month or two-long process could be viewed leisurely over, say, twenty minutes, and then imagine you could see all those forms and colors translated also into perfect musical accompaniment–as Disney’s artists did in their movies, Fantasia (and Fantasia 2000), you might appreciate some of the intuitions and influences on my art.

Similarly, if you could capture as a drama the subtle changes in attitude, maturity, shifts in values, priorities, and relationships over a ten year period in an adult’s life, you might again sense the similarity to the blossoming of a flower, or its conversion into a tasty (or bitter) fruit. The mandalaforms again suggest these unfolding multiform processes.

The theme of differentiation is noticeable–the “petals” of many of my mandalas are different from each other, yet often reveal a certain similarity of gesture or format, much as a modern alphabetic design should have the letters, though different, seem to suggest a generally similar font quality. (This interest in the evolution of letterforms is another theme in some of my art and at times manifests also in the mandalas.)

Further Themes

A common motif in these mandalaforms is the yogic “yantra” diagram called the Shree Yantra, a mixture of five downward and four upward interlocking triangles that I find most evocative and appealing.

Another motif is a six-pointed interlocking star-figure that I call “the star of the heart,” a personal symbol that tumbled out of a dream in 1972. Though generally portrayed head-on, in fact this can be formed with pipe cleaners in three-dimensional space, and has a number of associated features: From the top, it makes a triangle. From one side, it could fit into almost a square-shaped rectangle. In construction, it vibrates. At one tipped angle, it almost looks like a pentagram with one hinted point in the mid-cross bar in fact projecting backward (or forward)–beyond the general plane of the rest of the star. This expresses the idea that, as I am describing in this paper, we are better appreciated as multi-dimensional beings living within the illusion of three-dimensional space-time-matter-energy (as if that were all there is).

Protozooa, one-celled animals, offer another theme I explore in my cartoon-art, as they represent the incredible richness of possible variety available to a single independent cell. Some of these independent cells can at times colonize with each other–as do those of the slime mold called “dictiostylium”–and again this symbolizes the tension in our world between those caught up in the illusion of individualism and those caught up in the illusions of communitarianism.

Finally, some of these might be imagined to be living trans-dimensional beings whose appearance seems like a mandala, as explained by a little mandala-form and improvisational melody-oriented sprite named "Kaboodley-Doodley-Doo."


A parallel theme–and more may emerge as I continue to contemplate this relatively spontaneous mode of art–is that of eventfulness, the growing awareness that the most minute phenomenon may yet partake of a near-infinite series, waves, overlapping categories, of history, implications, resonances, influences, and so forth. In our material universe, too much is described as if a thing was (only) what it was–a combination of a finite number of more relevant categories. What is ignored is the history of those categories, and also the often multiple uses to which a given item may be applied–i.e., what Aristotle called the “formal cause” of a thing or event. To this, we must add that the mind can entertain multiple frames of reference, including the spiritual, magical, symbolic, artistic, humorous, collectible, economic, political, and so forth–and each of these categories are by no means neatly compartmentalized. Often something takes on significance in multiple categories, and new ones, or refinements or offshoots, emerge. A simple item may become the root of a whole field of endeavor, as happened with the sparks generated by static electricity in the 17th and 18th century–leading to electronics in all its forms.

Each event is chock full of other events, including the life stories of the people involved in manufacturing, selling, delivering the simplest thing, the unexpected uses that thing may have in your household, the memories it evokes, and so forth. Beyond that, anything you perceive calls into awareness (if you are willing to take this ride) all the events that involve your perception, awareness, and being, the food you eat, the people you know, and so forth.

You are a nexus, the interacting focus of innumerable influences. Your being is further illuminated in ways you probably don’t know, by neuroscientists, physiologists, cell biologists, chemists–and that’s just the physical dimension! Your reading this at this moment is influenced by all you’ve experienced, and how you’ve interpreted those experiences, and how those interpretations have been influenced, in an almost infinite regress of other influences and causative events. Add to this those events we can’t easily explain by cause-and-effect, and attributed to chance, synchronicity, Grace, or Divine Providence.

All this suggests to me a delicious and glorious prolific generosity of the Divine and Natural unfolding, perhaps even a degree of profligacy. It suggests a call to dance with it, sing with it, draw it, improvise and co-create with it. Hence, these drawings.

(I am in the process of planning a kind of coloring book of selected mandala-form cartoon -doodles, and if you’re interested, I’ll work out a modest price and make them up and send them to you. Let me know.)

Return to Top                 For further correspondence, email to adam@blatner.com