William Arthur Mills

There is only consciousness here; this universe is nothing but consciousness;

you are consciousness; I am consciousness; the worlds are consciousness-

that is the conclusion.

That which exists and that which shines (i.e., is known to exist) are all         

The (ONE) Self.


  -Yoga Vasistha

“Dancing Spring, White Mountains”  acrylic on canvas/ 39.5” x 46”/ 1997


There is an excellent sanskrit word that attempts to describe the ecstasy of the ‘play’ of the Universe. This incomparably descriptive word is “Lila”. Lila identifies the joyfulness of the Divine Mother ‘at play’, amusing Herself in the never ending creation of the universe. Ceaselessly designing, arranging- and rearranging- everything, as though they were all Her toys (and all are Her toys), She endlessly re-creates Herself from Her own all pervading consciousness.

Interwoven with the play of the five basic elements, the Divine Mother graciously steps into Her own cosmic play, becoming and pervading everything. The traditional usage of the word “lila” holds the viewpoint that ‘creation’ is the “sport”, or “play” of the gods and goddesses, ecstatically unfolding, expanding, contracting, shape shifting, and, eternally, ‘creating’ this universe and all universes to come.

I have witnessed how the process of making art is part of a much vaster intuitive knowledge within. From this perspective, everything is the sport, or “lila”, of the Goddess Muse at Her blissful “cosmic play”, infusing all of creation with Her divine energy. This marvel-ous word attempts to explain the unexplainable-  the mysterious workings of the universe. Impossible as it is for the human intellect to comprehend, the realm of the divine is a celebration of the universal spirit of consciousness, pervading all life and matter-  seen and unseen.

The Self is ceaselessly beckoning to us from the silent depths of this invisible, formless, and unnamable source within. Listen- It’s still, small voice is humbly proclaiming “It IS”   -and we rarely hear even the faintest echo...

“67 Danforth Street”/ pen and ink/ 18.5” x 24.5”/ 1972.

Please visit the Pen and Ink Page to see other similar images.

Detail from “Manifest and Available” / Acrylic on wood mounted on wood/ 16” x 46”

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“Eye of Eyes”/ acrylic on wood/ 21.5” x 21.5”/ 1998

“Sea Calf”

Watercolor and ink on paper/ 11” x 8.5”/ 1983


The true meaning of non duality is quite perfectly expressed by another one of my favorite words the universe has to offer: Advaita. Advaita means “there are not two things”; or, as sometimes referred as “one without a second”. Advaitic philosophy addresses the one, endless, boundary-less nature of Atma (the Self). This timeless wisdom permeates all objects of perception. Essentially, all advaitic teachings declare that there is ‘only’ one of us here.

Through broadening awareness emerging from persistent self inquiry, advaitic philosophy teaches that our essential, intrinsic nature is pure, changeless, formless, limitless, timeless-  and free. This awareness is the recognition of our true non dual nature. The ancient rishis, or "seers", simply "saw" this Truth with full conviction. The rishis were aware that all life is part of one, inseparable, immutable, infinite field of consciousness; and they made this knowledge accessible to all who chose to “see” it. The essential teaching being that everything in the universe is part of this same nameless oneness.

I have come to recognize this exquisite stillness, rising from the blissful reservoir  beyond thought, as the eternal Self from which the entire cosmos unfolds. This self-same indivisible silence, sometimes known as Shiva, is the timeless immutable wisdom from which all of the containers of consciousness emanate. When especially still, one can access this exquisite inner ‘space’- which often occurs naturally while engaged in the act of drawing or painting. This immutable and omnipresent spiritual authority, “That”, is the only true Doer.

“The tireless cacophony resounding in the ever expanding centrifugal tendency”

acrylic on paper / acrylic on paper/ 19” x 24”/ 1998

Painting is part of a vast, timeless, collective language, manifesting in time and space. Artists have done this for centuries; desiring to communicate, inspire, and assist others on this amazing shared journey. Each and every story conveyed in a drawing, painting, or sculpture, stimulates us in some way-  ultimately beckoning us to a heightened awareness of our own inner and outer universal nature. This experience of our true nature resides light years beyond religious dogma, doctrine, and any manner of thought system.

Select Writings/ Images

Surrendering to the supreme, ever expanding stillness, we have the opportunity to challenge the comfort zones inherent in the process of making art. Witnessing this all pervasive wisdom that permeates silence, may, potentially, free us from the tyranny of the past. Making and sharing images which explore- and celebrate- our one shared identity behind duality, name, and form, is a great, unparalleled source of joy for me. Most of all, I’ve discovered that the real joy- and adventure- in making art, like everything else in life, is being present.

Painting and drawing, like all the arts, are much like windows, each offering glimpses into the vast riches of the human spirit. Absorbing the essence of a great work of art is a profound experience. It may even contain a quality of energy that has tremendous potential to deliver one to wholly new, unexplored realms of awareness.

Making art is an intimate experience. One has the opportunity to journey into the vast stillness beyond thoughts, concepts, and ideas. Sharing a window, or opening a gate, into one’s inner world is an extraordinary gift for everyone involved. In this spirit, producing art that connects us to this timeless essence, celebrates this eternal glorious nature.

This world and every thing in it is literally saturated with divinity, playfully giving rise to the most magnificent illusion of all- the universe. This exquisite contradiction, maya, manifests countless universes- all composed of endlessly shifting opposites and dualities. In this sense, art is a reflection of a reflection. The exploration of this nebulous, boundless, timeless terrain fascinates me as an artist. This is the profound contradiction that entangles all communication, including all the arts.

I wholeheartedly agree with Picasso’s eloquently raw observation, “Art is a lie which helps us realize the truth”. Yes, art is not the real thing either, like every thing here, as its sole ‘reality’ dwells in perception. Maybe, at best, it is a reflection of a reflection; however, in a pinch, it may offer a clue or two regarding our true identity. Aimed at piercing through this illusory world of things, concepts, thoughts, and ideas, art often attempts to question- and answer- “Who am I?”. What is beyond this reflection of the illusory world of perception we call ‘real’? For this reason, art, at it’s very best, is a treasured reflection of this glorious cosmic being-ness.

Considering the processes that it undergoes, a work of art is very much like that of a gem. Artists have a particularly wonderful opportunity to explore- and mine- this inner treasure: vision. From first reading of the term ‘cave of the heart”, as described in the Upanishads, I felt like I was immediately home. It is quite spiritually empowering to think that others, including all of the wise ancients from centuries before, have also known this inner ‘place’.

Making art is a tremendous vehicle for self transformation and spiritual awareness. The mind has an omnipresent opportunity to shift its attention from an habitual attachment to linear, conceptual thinking. True freedom, beyond the constraints of the past, i.e., our personal “stories”, is always waiting patiently for us in the exquisite stillness beyond thought. Occasional glimpses of this freedom, ceaselessly beckoning throughout the art ‘making’ process, have led me to an ever increasing awareness of the magic and the grace that exist only in this present moment.

When it comes to true knowledge of the Self we all have to find our own way, no one can ‘tell’ us what It is. However, great teachers like Ramana Maharshi have assisted us by providing a clue or two into the forever expanding map inward. Sri Ramana continually replied to this questioning with, “Who wants to know?” The Self is more akin to a remembrance of our true nature- Who we are, and Who we have always been.

A pretty good indication that we are close to our ‘goal’ is when there is a realization that there is no where to go. There never has been anywhere to go, in essence, because we’re already ‘there’-  where we have always been. Of course, ultimately, we will have to leave the “we” there, too, because there is really ‘only’ ONE here. This boggles my mind, precisely because it is so simple. In recognizing this simple uncluttered truth, residing eternally in this present moment, the Self knows exactly what to do. So, It is doing what it does best, what It has been doing forever, illumining the path to cosmic perfection for all.

I’ve noticed in particular that the more established in the present I am, the more alive the process of ‘making’ art becomes. The art is infused with authenticity, immediacy, and directness. From this perceptive, I am witnessing the various aspects of consciousness- where self awareness, the pencil, and the action of drawing all become one unified field of consciousness.

True vision is the remembrance of the One Universal Self; the indivisible Heart of All. It is the awareness of the immutable oneness of being we share with every atom of creation. True vision is a placeless ‘place’ within us all, where all dualistic concepts such as “inner” or “outer” dissolve. It is very still. An artist’s most noble purpose is to somehow translate, and share, a small piece of this limitless, unnameable stillness that resides beneath every surface. This is the true meaning of  e x p a n s i o n- expanding one’s awareness of the Self. The Self is the one, seamless, non dual reality that permeates every particle of existence- transcending religion and philosophy; as well as matter, mind, and intellect.

What- if anything- is being done? And by Whom?

Relinquishing the sense of ‘doer-ship’ is becoming more and more essential for me in this process, which, incidentally, is always accompanied with a sense of peace, natural ease, and efficiency. Imbued with the energy derived from the power of authenticity and detachment, ‘it’ knows exactly what to do. This radical awareness is actually quite liberating, freeing oneself from the rigid grasp of the left brain, reconciling the immanent and the transcendent as one ever expansive reality.

Relinquishing this sense of ‘doer-ship’ also aids in the construction of a bridge one crosses while maneuvering through the mystical sea of the creative process. A ‘place’ of transport, where some unknown aspect of me is ever present and taking charge. I have come to more fully trust- and surrender to- this gracious awareness, sensing that it is not I engaged with this painting, but rather, it is ‘It’ who is true ‘doer’.

“Yet Another Blessing in Disguise”/ colored pencil on paper/ 19” x 25”/ 1988

“Dialogue in Yellow”/Watercolor on paper/ 1980

Details from “Hidden Mother”/acrylic on wood/ 9” x 37.5” 

“Untitled”/India Ink wash drawing on paper/ 17.5” x  23”/ 1993

“Self”/ Ink marker and colored pencil on paper/ 11” x 8.5”

“Inner Sanctum”/ mixed media on wood/ 25” x 15”/ 1997

“Go within; without swerving”/ ink and colored pencil on paper/ 8.5” x 11”/2003

“Do Not Seek Outside Yourself”/ ink and colored pencil on paper/ 8.5” x 11”

Detail from “Alleghania”/ acrylic on canvas/ 39.5” x 46”/ 1994


“Sip The Nectar Of Timeless Awareness”/ ink and colored pencil on paper/ 11” x 8.5”

“Nilakantha”/ postcard mounted on wood with acrylic/ 17” x 14”/ 2000

“Untitled”/ acrylic on three 6” x 6” Masonite panels,

mounted on unbleached muslin stretched over wood/ 26” x 10”/1988

In the 4th grade, I made a large pencil drawing of Daniel Boone, with raccoon tailed hat, musket, fringed buckskin jacket, the works. When my teacher hung it up on the display board in the school hall, I remember that for the first time I realized the tremendous power of art. Even then, I considered that somehow this drawing was bigger than ‘me’, bigger than who I thought I was, anyway. It was as if this drawing sprung from some ‘place’ deep within me, and knew things about me that even ‘I’ didn’t know.

“Art is a lie which makes us realize the truth.”

-Pablo Picasso

The Journey to the Lampshade

by William Arthur Mills

Anandamaya Kosha is often compared to the lampshade that covers the light bulb- the light is ‘visible’ through it’s covering, yet it is still obscured by minute traces of lingering ego.

At the base of It’s throne, fabricated from the excellent elements of eternity, the Supreme Sovereign, Ardhanarishwara, projects the teachings of the five koshas outward from It’s Self. The Glorious Hermaphrodite calls out to us ceaselessly, gently inviting us to journey inward, to experience the timeless nature of the Cosmic Self. In this magnificent system of teachings aimed at more fully understanding our true, changeless nature, the Koshas are the five sheaths (veils, or layers) which, with graduating subtlety, enfold the Self.

These layers of the spiritual evolution of karma comprise the Koshas, which cover the infinitely radiant Atman, the Cosmic Consciousness beyond all fields of perception. Though the entire universe is Ardhanarishwara’s home, the Sacred Hermaphrodite also dwells within the tiniest, microcosmic, one celled life forms, maintaining everything in perfect balance.

The densest of the Koshas, composed of the five elements, is the Annamaya Kosha, the food (anna) body. The next sheath is Pranamaya Kosha, the vital breath (prana), life force, and energy sheath. Then, follows the Manomaya Kosha, the “mind (mana) mental sheath, which encloses brain functions, ‘mundane’ thought, and rationality.

Next, is Vijnanamaya Kosha, the intellect, or discriminating layer of consciousness. This sheath surrounds the higher regions of the mind. Included in this layer, are compassion, creativity, conceptual thought, and spiritual inspiration. This Kosha contains the higher wisdom which facilitates the will of remembrance to experience the fifth sheath, Anandamaya Kosha.

The Anandamaya Kosha is the bliss sheath, which constitutes the super-conscious mind, the causal body. This Kosha surrounds the Atman, the Supreme Self that resides beyond the mind. Though this kosha is composed of the light of the purest knowledge, it is still a sheath, a covering; though only very subtle traces of ego are in tact at this Kosha.

This Anandamaya Kosha is often compared to the lampshade that covers the light bulb- the light is ‘visible’ through it’s covering, yet it is still obscured by minute traces of lingering ego. The thin veil of Anandamaya Kosha is the portal to the Atman, or Brahman, which is the bliss beyond all words, thoughts, and concepts.

From  MOTHER: She Who Is Ceaselessly Pregnant With the Universe

by William Arthur Mills

The Great Mother is the supreme maya of this world of name and form, eternally emerging from Her ecstatic dance with the vast, formless, non-differential consciousness beyond. She is the primal universal energy which manifests all form- animate and inanimate. She is the life pulse of the universe, all of which is a dazzling display of Her magnificent cosmic power.

The more we surrender to Her will, our true nature, the closer we get to knowing our real selves. I once read that in order to know the god within, we must first become the Goddess. In this sense, she is everything we see, touch, smell, taste, eat, feel, intuit... She has assumed all forms, including who we even perceive to be ‘ourselves’ and the world around us.

Occasionally we are offered a peek behind the vast maya of phenomenal forms that Mother’s consciousness assumes. Occasionally we are a treated to a glimpse of Her wisdom, which prevails far beyond all words- and worlds. She is- and is also beyond, all perception. She is beyond all ideas, all concepts, all concepts of concepts, all concepts that concepts could ever possibly reveal.

The awareness of our true blissful nature is the spiritual bridge to the Divine Feminine Within. She is an endless cosmic spectacle, an endless parade of all the dazzling, enchanting forms that nature takes on, dancing throughout ‘creation’. In this knowledge, we see that all is Her ecstatic play we are all mere instruments in Her timeless play, the supreme glory of Her living passion.

As an artist, Mahamaya Ma is particularly fascinating. She is “the Mother of the Vast Illusion” who ceaselessly lures me toward the outward experience with Her many fascinating names and forms. In this depiction of supreme maya, Mother becomes the glorious deification of the universe. She is the unification of all opposites.

As the Supreme Mahamaya, She impeccably represents the exquisite contradiction of this vast, temporal, sublime duality we happen to call life. Mother is every form of energy coursing through the perceivable universe- and beyond. She makes visible, however temporarily, the union of Consciousness and Energy. She is the all pervasive, eternal ‘Self’, the mysterious force in the universe that animates all.

At present I am working on a wall shrine/painting of the Divine Mother as Chandravadana, the “Moon Faced Goddess”, a form of Maha Lakshmi that represents the receptive, spiritual surrender of the energy of the moon. She is omnipresent be-ing-ness reigning over all relative and transcendent existence.

The Great Mother emanates from all forms; and simultaneously assumes all forms. Simply put, She is all form. At the same time, She encompasses the increasingly subtler realms, like thought forms, which are Her light-fine seeds planted throughout this Immutable Cosmic Garden.

“Shakti”/ ink and colored pencil on paper/ 11” x  8.5”/ 2007

“DEVI, The Self, “hidden” in ALL BEINGS”/ ink on paper/ 8.5” x 11”/ 2006