Lynfield George ( Lyn ) Ott
Born : 25th April, 1926 - Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA
Died : 22nd April, 1998 - Myrtle Beach, Sth Carolina, USA
Married : Phyllis Vita Silverman
Children : Chris & Leslie.
Mimi & Betsy, from Phyllis' previous marriage.
Parents : Irene & Lester
Nationality : American
SEE LYN OTT'S ART PAGE
JOURNEY OUT OF DARKNESS
Two families, one goal: the Rileys and the Otts lived in Woodstock, New York, in the fifties and sixties as seekers of God. These excerpts from Lyn's unpublished autobiography, published here (GLOW) for the first time, unfold the story of Lyn and Phyllis Otts' coming to accept Meher Baba as their Master — and their eventual recognition of Him as God in human form.
Oh my God! Here I was in my church-studio, still groping for the way to go! I felt I wasn't finding, but rather losing my way. What sort of painter was I after all these years? If a painter hadn't found himself by his late thirties, where was he?
Walking back to the house for lunch, I worried. Where was I heading in life? I felt overrun with the urgency to make some headway in my chosen profession. After all, in little more than a couple of years I would be forty. Life offered so little time to become anything. Besides this career in art, I had a wife and four children to support, and still I was utterly lost. There had been a time when I had felt the call of destiny, but where was that call now? It was giving way to the turmoil of everyday life.
"You know," I said moodily, my tuna fish sandwich on a plate in front of me, "it's a damn shame I didn't sell anything in that show at Lovisco's. I don't really know what we're going to do now."
Phyllis asked, "What do you mean?"
"I mean, I don't know how we're going to manage. I'm out of momentum. I don't know in what direction to move with my work. What on earth am I going to do?"
"God will help us," she said quietly. I had often heard her express that sentiment. There was a deep earnest expression on her face, that face which appeared to contain the ability to express everything, both spoken and unspoken.
"What do you mean, God will help us?" I demanded, raising my voice. "God will help us! What does that mean — God will help us?"
She just looked at me with an infinitude of latent expressiveness.
"How the hell is God going to help us — help anybody?" I shouted in exasperation. "That's childish for you to say, God will help us, as if the mere saying of it could straighten out everything. God damn it! I never want to hear the word 'God' mentioned again in this house!"
Phyllis looked deeply wounded, as if a last vestige of recourse had been ripped from her heart. Here we were in a home originally built as a refuge of God and there was Phyllis being told never to mention God's name again! I was beside myself. I glanced at Phyllis. She looked as if she had lost absolutely everything.
"What is God anyway, I ask you? What is God? I would like to know. Do you know?"
Phyllis just looked at me.
Still angry I said, "How can anybody say what God is? The whole idea of God is impossible." Both of us were silent a while. Then I said, "If God is at all, then it seems to me it would have to be some kind of unified field of unlimited consciousness. But what, for God's sake, does anything like that have to do with us? What does such a thing as infinite consciousness have to do with us, I ask you?"
"It seems to me we must exist within it," Phyllis responded quietly at last.
"Then maybe that's why God can't help us," I said. "It's all nuts. Sure, God exists, but for us human beings it will always be a fairy tale. You can be sure of that."
"You don't sound very logical," Phyllis said.
"Well, I can't figure out what they mean, when people claim they're looking for God. How on earth does anybody look for God, I want to know?"
"Frankly, I wish I knew," Phyllis said. By now I could see, she had become despondent. The conversation had put Phyllis in a somber mood.
GLOW International, May, 1998, pp. 3-15
1998 © Naosherwan Anzar
Part Twenty One
However, by now the thought was gnawing at my mind, something was seriously the matter, and I was beginning to recognize, the matter rested entirely with me. Was I procrastinating in my response to Meher Baba's Call, His order for me to come to Him? Why couldn't I respond as Phyllis had?
Originally Meher Baba had instructed Phyllis and me to come in May, when He intended to have a mass darshan for his Eastern lovers. Did not that first order still stand? The more I thought about it, the more it seemed, this was still what we were supposed to do. I decided to cable Baba saying, "We are preparing to come to see you in May as you directed." But after the cable was on its way, I began to wonder if May was really the proper and appropriate time for us. I did not really relish the prospect of merging awkwardly in a strictly Eastern Darshan amidst thousands of Eastern people. Why couldn't I just see Meher Baba as Phyllis had, without the crush of thousands all around Him? Phyllis had simply gone, however impetuously, and everything had worked out so beautifully. I was bothered by the feeling I was not handling things properly.
Then a reply came back from Baba, a cable stating simply, "You and Phyllis come in December, Western Sahavas." So that was settled. I felt better about it. And the months went by as spring rolled on into summer, and we waited.
I was aware, however, that Baba did invite Dr. Harry Kenmore to come to India to attend the great Eastern Darshan in May of '65. It was apparent Harry did not have to write to Baba for clarification whether to come or not. Tom had told me, "Harry just goes to see Baba whenever he feels like it. He doesn't ask. He just goes. He goes even when Baba has told everyone to stay away. Baba seems to have a different sort of relationship with Harry Kenmore."
Was there something the matter with me? I was starting to worry about it. It seemed clear, Phyllis by now had gotten way ahead with Baba.
Then, in the mail, a shocking announcement came from India. It was already the middle of September. Meher Baba announced to His Mandali at Meherazad, "Owing to the strain on my health, the burden of my Universal work, and the present conflict between Pakistan and India, it is going to be necessary for me to cancel the Western Darshan I was intending to give in December. I want all my lovers to be resigned to My Will."
When the circular was sent out from India to the Winterfeldts and distributed by them far and wide in America to all His lovers, we wondered what were we to do now? And that was what Phyllis was asking me at this moment. Indeed, what was I to do now?
"We have to go right away!" I said.
Phyllis started to say, "But what about . . . . ?"
"We're finished with 'What about!' The time has arrived. We have to go."
Phyllis couldn't contradict me, for was it not the very action she had taken only a few months before? My way had flopped. Now we were taking up Phyllis' way. I was not to be kept back any longer from going to Meher Baba as He had directed. Now there was nothing for me to do but go.
~~The last chapter of Lyn's autobiography is titled "Pilgrimage to the Abode of Love." The entire chapter detailing Lyn's meeting with Meher Baba at Meherazad appeared in the November 1993 and May 1994 issues of GLOW International.
~~The excerpts published here [in GLOW] do not follow a sequential order. Relevant chapters have been abstracted and juxtaposed to keep the story in context.
GLOW International, May, 1998, pp. 3-15
1998 © Naosherwan Anzar
IT IS SURELY HERE
"There was and is no way out except by my coming in your midst. I had to come and I have come." — Meher Baba
There is no hope outside of You, Meher. So I trudge across the bosom of the Universe to bow down to Your samadhi. The Savior of the world, Thou art, so I cry out to you. If you will not save the world, then at least you will save that very Thou which is the Real Me encased within this framework of most finite limitation. To beings of the world you will not give your infinite treasure, Meher. But to a humble beggar – that is more likely.
When I was with Baba in 1965, He was very interested to hear of our visit the day before to the samadhi of Hazrat Babajan. Baba asked us many questions about it. Baba asked, did we bow down to the tomb. Phyllis said, "I don't know how." I at once thought what a marvellously humble thing for her to say. (Indeed, who knows how to bow down at the samadhi of a Perfect Master?) And Baba said simply, "You will."
I never could have dreamed at that time that I would be coming back to bow down to Baba's samadhi. We all thought Baba was going to live to be ninety.
I said to Baba, "It meant nothing for me to go to Babajan's tomb, except to make me thankful that I have a living Master." Then Baba said, "Babajan is in Me." I have heard of the "fourth journey," but what in God's Name could that be? All I know is this interminable "first journey."
Baba asked, "Did you see pictures of Me and Babajan at the tomb?" When we answered "No," Baba explained that the man who was taking care of Babajan's tomb is a Moslem, and believes that pictures of God must not be shown; but, Baba said, if we had asked, the attendant would have removed a curtain to reveal pictures of both Baba and Babajan.
On our first day in Poona this trip (before meeting Jal) we went to Babajan's tomb where I paid devout respects to Babajan who is now in Baba. The caretaker was prompt to notice that I could not see well so he was most generously solicitous, taking me around to show me the things of interest such as Babajan's bangles. He led me to two large framed pictures of Babajan, now exposed to permanent view. He took my hand and brought it up to touch the face in each picture. I noticed casually that the glass over the pictures was very encrusted with dust from the street traffic. Progress had been made, it was true; but this fellow was probably still a little too superstitious to be so bold as to dust them. We tend to expect Baba to change the world overnight, but Baba does not work that way. He has lots of time in which to get everything done.
But where was the picture of Meher Baba at Babajan's samadhi? I was taken to a dark corner where a drawer was opened as if going into an inner chamber. There was Baba's picture, tucked neatly away. I think this is the kind of thing that would definitely strike Baba as funny, especially considering that Babajan is in Baba. We might almost say that the whole of Babajan's samadhi is in that drawer.
One cannot imagine the Maha-Samadhi of the "Supremely Perfect One" to be at any one place. Nevertheless a point of identification for such an imagined place has been set up for us by Him, the Supremely Perfect One. That place is Meherabad Hill.
I have visited the samadhi of three Perfect Masters, not including the Avatar. We went to Sherdi and Sakori for one day to visit the samadhis of Sai Baba and Upasni Maharaj. They are only two miles apart. From these visits I feel that there is a vast difference between the samadhi of Perfect Masters and that of the Avatar of the Cycle. Perhaps this feeling that I have of the difference is to a degree subjective because Meher Baba is my own personal Master and Friend. But I think that there is a real difference and that the difference lies in the fact that there is an atmosphere of religion and of tradition surrounding the samadhi of a Perfect Master; whereas around the tomb of Meher Baba there is no such atmosphere of religious tradition. One feels at Baba's samadhi something fresh, pure and pristine, something untarnished by the past or by the customs and attitudes of time-worn religion.
The Perfect Masters do not seem to entirely step out of the framework of religious thinking from which they were primed into perfection. The Perfect Masters seem to stay within the boundaries of precedent and custom. But the Avatar always and invariably steps free of the narrow religious boundaries in which He is brought up as a child. The Avatar always seems to set about to tear down religious subdivisions and to erect in their place an entirely new way to approach and love God. That is what I feel at the tomb of Meher Baba, gleaming in the sun like the crown jewel of creation.
I had a talk with Eruch about the Creation on my very first visit with him at the Meher Baba Trust office. There seemed an unspoken understanding between us that we should straightway dispose of philosophical questions so that all "that" would be out of the way.
I said to Eruch, "Where is Meher Baba now?" And Eruch replied directly, "Better you should ask, 'Where is He not?'" He reminded me that there never was a time when Baba was not. Universes come and go like great waves on the Ocean. Myriads of universes have swelled and burst, but there never was a time when the Creator was not. And so there never was a time when creation was not, for without His creation, the Creator would not be. The Creator being the Creator, necessitates creation.
Eruch pointed out that God's creation is His imagination and that as soon as God imagines anything, that anything takes form in illusion. The very instant God imagines a thing it exists in illusion as an apparent reality.
Eruch further pointed out that everything in God's imagination, though it be illusion, nevertheless carries with it the stamp of Reality from which the imagination has sprung. Everything in illusion carries with it the stamp of Baba's Reality. And this is what it means to say, "Where is Baba not?"
What is Meherabad? To some it is a place of historical importance, a place saturated with loving memories. To some it is the place where God lived once again the Divine Hero's life on earth. But to me Meherabad is the singular place where Soul is; the one Soul, the only Soul, the only Soul that ever was, the One without a second, walked and talked and ate and slept and mingled and sat alone and laughed and cried and hoped and despaired and suffered and rejoiced. Meherabad is the place where I can walk and talk and eat and sleep and mingle and sit alone and laugh and cry and hope and despair and suffer and rejoice with the one everlasting Soul. If Soul can be said to exist anywhere in particular, it is surely here.
1973 © Universal Spiritual League in America, Inc.
THE LOVER FINALLY GETS THE JOKE
One day at Meherabad, Padri asked, "What is surrender?" And before I could even think to try to answer, Padri said, "Surrender is when the beggar gives a gift to the king."
I went away puzzling, "What is there to give, how can the beggar give a gift to the king?" The answer is clear: The beggar has absolutely nothing to give; then the only thing he has to give is his nothing.
The beggar has two options, only two. One is to keep his nothing as his one possession. The other is to give his nothing back to the Master who is in fact the very creator of all this Nothing. That's the trick — to give back the nothing.
I sat thinking seriously, "How do I get Meher Baba to accept nothing as my gift to Him?" It's impossible. In fact, it's a mighty joke, this whole thing of surrender.
It seems to me now that surrender must be the moment when the lover and the beloved merge together in one mighty laugh. It is the moment when, at last, the lover finally gets the joke and infinite happiness prevails. What is God-realization? It is when man's sense of humor finally equals God's.
1973 © Universal Spiritual League in America, Inc.
Meher Baba Manifesting
by Lyn Ott
I learned years ago through producing many paintings of Avatar Meher Baba that when we look at a picture of the Ancient One we are glimpsing, through the veil of our own sanskaras, as in a glass darkly, into the divine free impressions of God in human form. The very sight of such a picture is freeing to the individual for he is seeing, however dimly, straight into the pure divinity of God on earth, infinity manifested in finite form. Though that form is only a curtain, Baba says. "Blessed are those who see even the curtain," for it is produced out of reality, that curtain, and not out of illusion. Though He is not that form which we see, even so, the image of that form comes from Him, and therefore possesses divine power.
The manifestation of divine power, by virtue of its source, Reality, destroys vast quantities of illusion that stand in the way of spiritual upliftment, both individual and universal. Our sight of the divine Beloved, even in a picture, inevitably weakens the power of the mirage of our own impressions. And in this way, all the lovers of Meher Baba can become painters of divinity within their hearts. To image the God Man is to visualize truth, and this becomes a foundation for its "Manifestation" among gross conscious human beings.
For the gross-conscious person in a material day and age such as this, seeing is believing, and for that reason God Almighty must present an image of Himself to this illusion-blinded humanity.
God, of divine necessity, comes down in the form of a man to free humanity from its ignorance and blindness. He takes form only for work, and that work, because of the resistance offered by illusion, brings upon Him unimaginable suffering. This suffering, however, is His real happiness because it results triumphantly in His Manifestation, which begins after He has dropped His body. Therefore, now is the time of His Advent. His incarnation on earth was not that time, His real time of Advent; it was rather the time of His universal working. And the Manifestation, the awakening of humanity, is the effect of that work. His incarnation is for the few but the effect of His incarnation is for the many.
For the many, because of the dark veil of materialism, to see is to believe. This seeing is the beginning of faith. Only the most blessed ones have faith without even seeing. To be able to believe without seeing would be His gift. But now is the time when the Beloved wants all to see because it is the time for the destruction of that ignorance which is materialism.
Matter does not necessarily have to be destroyed for materialism to be annihilated. Only when mind is glued fast to material form as attachment are the forms of matter necessarily destroyed. Matter is the form of the gross world, "typifying happiness". The gross world is God's lila, fully manifested. It is His happiness, the Divine Game, the play resulting from His Original Question. Why would God ever want to end His eternal and perpetual question, the lila? That would bring an end to all happiness. The natural state of material existence is happiness for all, and so dampens the purpose for which creation was created, realization of Truth. Materialism is in the mind; it is not at all in matter itself. It is thinking, and thinking is a kind of accumulated phantom substance, manufactured from the force of desiring all of the wrong things.
The world thinks that happiness is something to be pursued. Why is this? Happiness is our physical existence, so how can we pursue that which we already have and, in fact, are? In His book, God Speaks, Meher Baba writes over and over, "The gross world . . . typifying happiness . . . "
We are in the gross world for only one natural purpose, to advance into the state of Real Happiness. The gross world is for that purpose and not for any other. Happiness is the natural condition of the gross world. It is the shadow form of the infinite bliss of God and the celebration of His glory. It is the pure inspiration for all seeing and all hearing, all painting and all music. Inspiration is the light of God seeping through from the subtle world into the gross. But that seeping is not altogether sufficient. The Avatar had to come to make a window in the door to involution. Though the door opens to only a few at a time, the light of truth will soon begin to flood into the world and so dispel the darkness that now causes humanity's confusion.
Everywhere we turn in the gross world, we see the confusion. We see world conditions going from bad to worse. We see the world becoming hopeless, even desperate. How can all this mess in illusion be straightened out? Where do we begin to correct the evils wrought by civilization? Where do we start to realign the balance of nature? How do we stop the momentum of universal devastation within our natural world environment? The tide is coming in, and all the sand fortresses we build along our shores of limitation are of no avail, because the dilemma of the world is not a problem in its surface features but is rather a problem existing deep within the tide of mind itself, in its unconscious depths of wanting.
The Avatar comes to affect a change from within. He uses for this purpose, while alive on earth, His divine free sanskaras to alter both the fate and destiny of the universe. The result of His work on earth will push humanity into an extreme state of helplessness and hopelessness. Then, the whole world will become an arena for the living of the "New Life" which will enable humanity to throw off its accumulations of unnatural impressions and get established in the life of the Truth.
This New Life will enable the gross conscious human being to get established in the life of eternity, and this in turn will produce the remedies from within for all the external problems in the world. The world predicament will be corrected from inside out. Our imagining that we can correct all this world confusion from the surface only is what causes worldwide dismay over the universal state of affairs. The New Life is a gradual changing of consciousness from within, a change of heart. We can feel confident that Baba has already changed everything on the inside. We have but to attune ourselves to this to see it manifest in our exterior lives. He has sent us out upon a new adventure. It is our own inner change of consciousness. Everything in the world will come into realignment with this new consciousness. And the helplessness and hopelessness increasingly experienced amidst all of humanity will lead at last to humanity's redemption.
Each one will strive to see the Beloved, not just in His pictured shadow image, but as He really is. He will paint His face into the heart of the world and this will be His Manifestation, where everything will assume its proper relationship within the natural balance.
So many people complain, "If I could only have seen Meher Baba in physical form!" But did not Meher Baba say again and again, "I am not this body that you see." This means, actually, that Baba was invisible even while incarnated on earth. His physical body was the actual encasement of His prolonged seclusion. He secluded Himself within the illusion of His physical being, and that was His suffering, for He longed only to be seen as He really is. That body, which was actually His seclusion, was necessary for His universal work.
The dropping of His body was the Avatar's signal that He was out of seclusion for good. It was the end of His confinement. Only then could He begin to be truly visible in the world as His universal work.
At first only a few, those who are consciously looking and looking very intently, can see Him manifesting in the world. But soon the results will become more sharply defined and everyone will suspect that something great has happened. At last everyone will know that a magnificent change has occurred and that it is the Avatar who has brought this change. It will happen both gradually and all of a sudden.
Baba says, "I am everywhere and in everything." Thus, to see Him everywhere and in everything is to see Him manifesting in the world. "Then all suffering will be as though it were not" and the phenomenal world will become the happiness which it really is."
To understand all this more fully, we must wait to see the soon-to-be-published book which Meher Baba instructed Bhau Kalchuri to write, entitled, Avatar of the Age, Manifesting.
Lyn Ott as My Teacher
Lyn wrote a book, IN QUEST OF THE FACE OF GOD, A picture book of paintings of Meher Baba, in which he explains it's purpose as “an effort to help bring art back to God from whom it has strayed and lost its way.” Phyllis gave me a copy of the book in June, 2002 and I have poured over it, reading it cover to cover many times. It is in my studio, and I refer to it frequently in my research before starting paintings. It is not that I want to paint like Lyn or that I agree with all of Lyn’s conclusions about art, it is that his book is about God and painting God, of which he is one of the greatest masters along with Phyllis. Rarely has any artist or art writer commented, as Lyn emphasizes, “the urgent necessity in our time to bring art back to God, the One Source of all art, that Source from whom art has strayed and lost its way.” I would add that art is either an expression of love of God or it is an expression of love of ego, and that it is time for a shift in cultural focus. Lyn discusses some of his inspiration from the world of art, and this allows me to study art history from the perspective of the quest. To this end, I find Lyn an excellent teacher.
Lyn’s art is also extraordinary because his style changed with the degeneration of his sight. The absolute precision of his portraits becomes loose and more expressionistic. Rarely does an artist exhibit such a dramatic change in style, particularly a portrait artist, and still continue to be prolific. His commitment of artistic expression and his love of Meher Baba drove him beyond his limitations. To answer the question of what defines great art, Lyn responds, “… it is fervor (,) …the pure expression of the heart (which) …seeks by the sincerest of means to discover those nuances that make up the components of true love.”
The Question of Purpose and Tradition
My own life as an artist had atrophied because of a lack of fervor or feeling. I lack the formal training to be a truly great draftsman or designer, my gift is in my eye and in my knowledge of color and light -- often considered a secondary skill for a painter. Even with fervor I must produce art unconventionally. Learning many disciplines has distracted me from focusing my life on art or any other field, and over and over I have come to the same realization of that Lyn discovered while he was in school. What is the point of learning painting (or any other science or discipline) with Western painting (or any other technology or knowledge) at its end (or is in revolutionary transition)? I have already had to forget much of what I have learned because it is out dated and obsolete. The average person is expected to change professions six or seven times during their life. The only people who did that seventy years ago were outcasts of society. If carrying on a tradition is a key component of becoming an artist or living the human experience, what can anyone do that has any real meaning or cultural significance?
In 1949 when Lyn asks this question, art is one of the first cultural domains that seem to have been exploited to the point of exhaustion. There is simply no artistic greatness to be achieved in any traditional sense. Immediately after the Second World War the Western art world embraces Picasso - the first artist to become a brand and whose work has value for his name alone. Picasso is famous, not because he carries on tradition, but because he slaps it in the face. Great modern art starts on the path to becoming kitsch (my opinion, not necessarily Lyn’s). Through the 1970’s high art painting is drawn through a succession of reductions to the point that "fine art" becomes a marketing or commercial commodity and little more. For our culture, fervor is no longer valued. At the same time the number of capable artists increases tremendously. The secrets of the great masters are no longer handed down to apprentices, rather they can be learned from books, correspondence classes or interactive DVDs. Then, in the 1990’s being a fine artist falls out of style. Art schools shift from traditional mediums to computers and college level fine art painting programs around the country close. There are still painters, probably more than ever before, but there are very few great masters - painters differentiated by superior draftsmanship, craftsmanship, design and fervor.
The Importance of Lyn's Book
In looking at Lyn’s book for the first time I flip through the pages, reading a bit and glancing at the images -- until I come to one particular painting that is unlike any other. It is an abstract painting, although the face of Meher Baba is imposed in modest scale in the center. The brushstrokes are slow and labored. The muted colors are exceptionally dark or light, lacking in the dimensionality that is so common in Lyn’s work. Nonetheless, it is a portrait. Balancing Of The Universal Mind And The Universal Heart (1978) is Lyn’s last painting of Meher Baba, executed when he is virtually totally blind. In what seems to be a tribute to what has died within him, Lyn paints this last image, one that is the pure expression of his fervor without the faculties of the artist. In all of Lyn’s other paintings that I have seen there is at least some evidence of a portrait artist designing the form and color into some monument to the tradition of Western art. Even with the deterioration of his eyesight and the inevitable loss of realistic accuracy, the draftsmanship and intentional control is always evident, except in his last painting of Baba.
After spending so much time with Phyllis and in Lyn’s book, I find obviousness in painting a tribute to them both. Phyllis uncovers an undercurrent of fervor within me that I never knew existed, and Lyn provides the framework of study for its development. Around 1956 Lyn sees a painting by Willem DeKooning in which he finds a communion of the painter and painting that transcend into something greater. I have studied as many of DeKooning’s paintings in books that I can find, and I cannot precisely see what Lyn sees in DeKooning. Certainly DeKooning pushes the thresholds of art to their fullest extreme, and DeKooning uses the technology and skill of a master artist to produce images that are nearly completely void of any recognizable form, and yet they still look artistic. Recently a 60 Minutes segment compared a painting by a particularly talented elephant with DeKooning’s work, and the two look very similar. Even so, I can honestly say that I am not good enough as an artist to paint like DeKooning, despite the childish and haphazard way his paintings often look. Lyn describes his discovery as, “(DeKooning) uncovered for the sake of discovery potentialities of painting without ever having found the real oasis of singular seeing where there is peace and inner fulfillment in the finding of One - in having a glimpse of that Eternal Nature.”
Discovering My DeKooning
Art of the 1950’s and 1960’s is not new to me, and I grew up with those images in the background of my life, never having the opportunity to discover them at a point where they might have caused some inspiration. Lyn’s discovery of DeKooning occurs just as action painting is evolving and nearly a decade before his discovering Meher Baba. For Lyn, Baba provides the focal point of singularity that triggers his own fervor and transcends his art. DeKooning provides the fuse Meher Baba’s spark ignites.
When I begin to study Balancing Of The Universal Mind And The Universal Heart, I find in that painting the “real oasis of singular seeing” that seems to me to be what Lyn writes about in describing his experience with DeKooning paintings. With Lyn, blindness removes the potentialities of his artistic training from his painting until he ultimately creates something that might have been done by a talented elephant or DeKooning himself. The difference is that Lyn’s painting leaves evidence of a glimpse of the Eternal Nature of the One instead of raw deconstructive artistic expression inspired by the glimpse of the One. It is complete in a way that DeKooning never achieves.
Related Off-Site Links for Willem DeKooning
For selected later DeKooning paintings from a MOMA exhibit, click here and click here.
To see famous DeKooning Paintings, click here.
For Willem DeKooning bio and paintings at the Guggenhiem , click here.
To find Willem DeKooning on the Internet, click here.
All quotes from
IN QUEST OF THE FACE OF GOD, A picture book of paintings of Meher Baba, by Lyn Ott
© Chris Ott and Sage Walsh
Ott in his Woodstock studio, 1964
|Lynfield George Ott
April 25, 1926
April 22, 1998 (aged 71)
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
|Rhode Island School of Design
Ott was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1926 to Irene and Lester Ott (vice president of W. T. Grant). Ott was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary degenerative eye disease that leads almost inevitably to blindness. In spite of this, Ott's father Lester encouraged him to pursue his interest in painting.
Ott graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1947. He established a studio in SoHo in New York City and exhibited in several one-man shows at the Lovisco Gallery in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which received positive reviews.
In 1958, Ott settled in Woodstock, New York and joined the Art Students League of New York. There he began a long-term partnership with fellow painter and spiritual seeker Phyllis Vita Silverman. They had two children, Chris and Leslie, and raised two others, Mimi and Betsy, from Phyllis' previous marriage.
 Meeting Meher Baba
In 1964 Ott and his wife came in contact with the Indian spiritual master Meher Baba. They traveled to India where they met Meher Baba in 1965. In his book, In Quest of the Face of God, Ott wrote that prior to meeting Meher Baba art had been his religion, but after meeting Meher Baba, Ott became devoted to him and painted him almost exclusively.
In 1966, the Ott family settled at the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. There, despite increasingly poor eyesight, Ott produced approximately 500 paintings of Meher Baba. To compensate for his failing vision, he worked under bright floodlights with his face inches from the canvas. He also produced collaborative art with Phyllis and other local artists. His artistic career was ended by his complete blindness in 1976, at which time he attended the South Carolina Commission for the Blind , and gave up painting. Today Ott's paintings of Meher Baba are found in collections around the world. The 17 murals that he and his wife Phyllis painted in 1975 can be seen on permanent exhibit in the Meher Pilgrim Center in Meherabad, near Ahmednagar, India.
Ott died at the Meher Center 1998, three days before his 72nd birthday, survived by Phyllis and their four children. He published one book, "In Quest of the Face of God", and completed a memoir, Journey Out of Darkness, that remains unpublished.
 Style and influence
It is difficult to categorize Ott's artistic style. He admitted being impressed and influenced by eminent artists from many eras and schools of painting including Rembrandt, Jan Vermeer, Willem De Kooning, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Salvador Dalí, and Claude Monet. He was interested also in William Blake and Nicholas Roerich. He even described finding inspiration in the caricaturic genius of Walt Disney and the popularism of Norman Rockwell. He has been described as an action painter, an abstract expressionist, and an impressionist. Among the artists who either studied under Ott or were influenced by him were James Frisino , Bruce Herman, James Meyer, Laurie Blum , Mark Brosgol, and Will David.
- ^ Journey Out of Darkness, 1998
- ^ Lord Meher, Kalchuri, Manifestion, 1986, p. 6387
- ^ In Quest of the Face of God, Lyn Ott, Sheriar Press, 1980.
- ^ South Carolina Commission for the Blind
- ^ Jamesfrisino.com
- ^ Bruceherman.com
- ^ Laurieblum.com
- ^ Willdavid.com
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