The working barn, nestled on the campus of the College of Metaphysics is "a mural, a vision, a picture of the present and the future. We [the students of the School of Metaphysics] visualize it every day," says student and teacher Natalie Axburg, 23, of Dallas, Texas.
Stylistically painted on three sides of the structure including the roof, the mural represents the complete image of the ideal universal campus the School of Metaphysics is in the process of building. Here is shown a main building, a dome structure, an octagonal building, students walking amid a beautiful landscape, and a large pyramid all connected with grid rays of blue and golden light that appear to reach out into the world. The mural depicts a campus of the future where people from all cultures, ages and backgrounds will come to study the mastery of their minds in an effort to uplift human consciousness and actively live the changes they want to see in the world. Perhaps the dairy cows take the barn for granted, but the students and faculty certainly don’t.
Artist Chris Sheehan, 26, of Louisville, Kentucky designed of the 3000 sq. foot painting. Inspiration for the mural began last summer after Dr. Barbara Condron, senior faculty of the School of Metaphysics, suggested the idea and created a space for him to utilize the skills she recognized as a way of using his full potential. "The size of the mural challenged Chris. He needed the experience of teaching others what comes naturally to him so he could reproduce it consciously, at will. When you teach, you claim your own authority, appreciate your own abilities while enhancing the quality of other’s lives."
Since Sheehan is trained as a graphic designer and is a tattoo artist by trade, the barn mural was far larger than the one to four inch images he was accustomed to creating. "Chris has the mental abilities it requires to concentrate on images until they are completely manifested," Dr. Condron said. She presented the idea to Sheehan as a supersized paint-by-numbers. "His talent far exceeds that kind of painting, however, he needed a way to approach the process which at the time seemed a bit overwhelming. The scientific approach freed Chris and others to manifest the design. He could tell someone he had just met how to paint a section green, for example, and eventually it would all come together, piece by piece just as he imagined it."
Unsure how to begin, Sheehan remained undecided for some weeks about beginning the project. "Dr. Barbara just kept planting seed ideas," says Jennifer Childers, 26, a student at the College of Metaphysics at the time and now director of the SOM in Palatine, Illinois. We sat down one day for brunch and all of us were there, and Dr. Barbara asked forthrightly, "Chris! Are you going to do this. I believe in you," and then finally, he confronted it.
This ensuing conversation between a student and his teachers unlocked the creative potential. Dr. Daniel Condron, Chancellor of the College of Metaphysics and Chris’ teacher, instructed him through a series of directed questions that peeled away his rationalization allowing him to overcome his imagined limitations. In a moment of brilliance, Dr. Dan asked, "What is the worst that could happen?"
Honestly answering his teacher, Sheehan replied, "The mural will not be completed. No one will help."
"Ok, Chris. If you do not attempt to create your desire, what will happen?"
Sheehan replied, "It won’t happen."
The light of this awareness caused Sheehan to commit to the project then and there. Realizing that the answers were one and the same, Chris now says, "What did I have to lose? The outcome would have been the same as the fear if I hadn’t done it."
Fortified with new understandings of the power of visualization, Chris set to work. A film shot by Dr. Terry Martin and edited by Dr. Barbara Condron documents the three-month creation project that ultimately involved 80 people. Chris’ drawings gave power to a common goal that drew others who wanted to help make this dream come true.
Over eighty students and teachers from all over the United States enthusiastically gave of their time to help paint the mural over the course of eight weeks. Student Karen Mosby, a pediatric nurse from Des Moines, Iowa drove seven hours to participate. "It took all of us helping and being part of it," she said. "Accomplishing something this big is about having a picture in mind and actively following the steps so that we could make it happen." That picture on the barn paints a dream set into motion over thirty years ago when the SOM first began in the early 70s and envisioned by thousands of students since then.
The formations of the grid lines seen on the barn’s roof symbolize a connecting energy field that spreads across the whole Earth. They are a representation of the energetic campus that metaphysicians led by Dr. Daniel Condron are creating. He calls them "acupressure lines for the Earth itself." The energy that intentional geometric forms planted into the earth along those lines transmit into the ground is a way to create stability and balance in the planet.
"One of the first things people say when they come here [College of Metaphysics] is how different it feels, how much more peaceful their bodies and minds are," says Ivy Norris, 28, health practitioner and Director of the Tulsa, Oklahoma SOM. "The energies here on the campus are dramatically different."
The main building, which currently houses the world headquarters of the School of Metaphysics, and the Peace Dome, an intentional building dedicated as a universal site for peace on October 11, 2003, already exist on the campus. The barn is a part of the working farm students use daily during one of the many educational laboratories. The next structure to be built is the over 5000 square foot Octagon Building, based on ancient principles of the I Ching, for which plans and the acquisition of funds are currently underway.
The curriculum of the School of Metaphysics teaches the science of whole thinking based upon ten essential life skills that help any person master life. "The experience of creating the mural from start to finish is a living example of what the School of Metaphysics exists to accomplish," says Dr. Laurel Clark, area Director for the eastern United States SOM branches. "Each individual used skills relating to how the mind works that were learned in the classes to complete the project."
"A lot of us learned new skills," said Adam Williams, 24, of Indianapolis, Indiana. He learned how to draw upon memory to spark imagination by being fully in the present moment. "It was fulfilling because the new experience gave me something I could use in the future."
"Imagination is one of the most important tools in completing any desire," says Dr. Martin, a faculty member at the College.
Judy Weber, a nurse from St. Louis, Missouri, had no prior painting experience and was shown by Sheehan where to focus her attention, another of the skills taught in the curriculum. After stepping back from completing the detailed section of the mural she meticulously painted, she observed, "I can really see how this little bit is valuable to the whole vision. It really makes me think about myself in relation to everything else."
John Crainshaw, 26, an experienced artist from Columbia, Missouri was given freedom to express himself in bringing to life the mural’s tree. "I just used my imagination to make it align with the rest of the design. That’s my tree," he said. "Every time I see it I know I gave my part to the whole."
Mosby observed real change in herself and others. "I think sometimes when people have an idea, they think that if they fail or if they succeed, it’s because they are alone. When you allow others to help, you aid them by giving them the opportunity to give too, and to be part of something greater themselves. I am really inspired by that."
Childers agrees, "It inspired me to have dreams and live them."
What she and others, ages 10 to 68, created is captured in Vision Quest. "Every time people gather to see the movie, magic happens," Dr. Barbara Condron says. "I’ve seen imaginations awaken, ideas born and dreams made. People want to work with other people when they experience this film."
The film depicts the entire creative process from sketching to outlining to the weeks of painting. "I am entranced each time I watch Chris create his sacred space for sketching the mural as Talina Woods sings a powerful melody in the background," Condron says. "It’s my favorite scene." The hour film is available at the School of Metaphysics online campus at www.som.org .
The mural and the way it came into being are three-dimensional testimonials of what the School of Metaphysics teaches. The blend of intelligent head and expanded heart is evident in every brushstroke. "At one point I just stepped back and directed people, either telling them where to put what color of paint or, for the more experienced, letting them have free reign to create and help others," Chris said. "I’d never done anything of this magnitude before. Now I’m looking forward to the next creation. Now I know how to make a difference."