The Ten Human Years Of Preta Eshana is now complete! You can pre-order your vinyl with artwork and writing here.
We are currently working in collaboration with writers, musicians and artists on a new international project examining the life-changing capacity of small stories.
Looking at how a single narrative possesses the ability to transmute into a multitude of possibilities, the project takes a single story for other artists to interpret and elaborate upon.
Written by Stephen Givnan, The ten human years of Preta Eshana chronicles the life of a female hungry spirit who is granted passage to the human world for one spirit day, (the equivalent of ten human years) to examine how human beings cope with suffering, conflict and loss.
Inspired by the 15th Century Morality Play ‘The Summoning of Everyman’. The story attempts to bring to light the struggle of people whom society disregards. It also asks whether a hostile response to those in powerful positions who perpetuate this inequality is the most effective way to bring about lasting change. Finally, what role, if any, could a spiritual insight play in building a future less fixated on the self and more appreciative of the interconnectedness of all.
Contributing artists have been asked to use the story as a ideas platform, to communicate alternative ways of challenging oppressive societal norms. Artists will be invited to attend galleries, educational institutions, and community venues to discuss and workshop the process behind the project. One of the main questions to be investigated is how do we solicit curative ways of responding to age-old problems?
OVERVIEW OF PRINCIPLES AND OUTCOME OF PROJECT…
To produce a limited edition vinyl album. To create a book with contributions from writers and artists. To make an exclusive, crafted product, but for the content of the product to question and deconstruct the thinking behind a culture that frequently prefers spectacle over substance.
To make a documentary film that examines the role of artists in times of uncertainty and change. How, in our current ‘space between stories’ artists can navigate beyond constrictions of ego and elitism and act as enablers, encouraging others to become involved in socially engaged artistic processes that afford a genuine sharing of possibilities, beneficial for artists and participants alike.
Placing great importance upon ‘small stories’, we want to discover narratives that can nurture the seed-like positive potentials we carry in our mind. We want the project to give agency to finding creative ways for personal and societal transformation.
All profits from album sales will go to Bens Centre, a Sheffield charity that works with vulnerable street drinkers.
All artists have kindly offered their services free of charge. We would, however like to be able to gift all contributors payment for their skills, time and effort. If you would like to make a donation in order to help make this happen, please do so via the Paypal button below.
We asked musicians to look at the introductory chapters of the story (below) to discover what resonated.
We then suggested musicians placed self-imposed restrictions on the way they worked, to afford an opportunity to operate in ways previously unaccustomed to. This also provided a basis of continuity for collaborative practice on the album.
Eg. We suggested musicians might consider working with someone they have not previously composed with before or that they disrupt their usual process of composition by starting in a way that is completely alien to them.
Similarly, we asked artists to read the introductory chapters of the story below and expand on themes it brought up.
For the project to possess continuity, we asked artists to place self-imposed restrictions on their work e.g. Limiting work to black/grey/manilla and cardboard brown.
We asked artists to consider creating a space (real or imagined) where they felt able to step outside the often isolating and competitive world of their respective disciplines to communicate ways of thinking conducive to fostering harmony and trust.
We asked writers to look at how a holistic relationship with the world can become a catalyst for change and empowerment. We suggested adherence to certain restrictions within the writing process, again to help facilitate a different way of approaching a project.
We encouraged writers to find ways of positively disturbing collective self-limiting beliefs. The project also suggested writers discover means to connect to the ‘wholesome larger stories’ of discipline and tradition often displayed within past cultures.
Preta Eshana, a hungry spirit, takes rebirth on a small island, in a ghost realm. All material things, including food, are painful to touch. Although every pain receptor in her body continually screams in agony, she is somehow able to see beyond her own suffering and notices her son in the distance writhing in intense pain. She goes to comfort him. As she does, Preta has to walk past countless others consumed by the same fate. She develops a mind wishing everyone around her to be free from this torture.
The gatekeepers of the island are incredulous; they marvel at Preta Eshana’s ability to think of the plight of others despite her own unimaginable suffering. They report their findings to the tutelary deity Abhya who grants Preta Eshana one day (ten human years) to travel to the human realm, to discover how people cope with suffering, and to see if it is possible for spirits to be granted asylum there.
Preta is told she must travel to the human realm using her dream body: this will allow her to remain invisible.
Preta Eshana spends her first year in the dreaming world of humans. She realises that occasionally human beings experience a very deep feeling of peace but there is not enough awareness or control of the mind in order to retain that peace.
Preta Eshana sees that upon waking, many humans feel that the day ahead is already mapped out, and they feel obliged to engage in a series of acts that are contrary to their wishes. This resonates with her, as she has lived this same experience many, many times. It feels repetitive, stressful, and life-denying.
Due to the familiarity of the spirit world, Preta Eshana spends most of her time where there is poverty and hunger. She grows particularly fond of a young man who reminds her of her son. The young man is homeless. He is timid, subservient, and studious.
She watches in fascination as the young man experiences a growing realisation that his underlying feeling of unease is the result of being educated into accepting a frame of reference which is continually deferential to power and authority. She sits by him as he cuts out a quote by George Orwell and places it above the headboard where he sleeps:
At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas of which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is “not done” to say it… Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is seldom given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the high-brow periodicals.
Preta Eshana experiences growing anger at how the people she has lived with for the past four years have been exploited in both manifest and subtle ways throughout their whole lives. She becomes angry at the rich and powerful who orchestrate the ‘manufacturing of consent,’ and ‘divide and rule’ of ordinary people. She becomes determined to do something about it.
Preta Eshana decides to fight back. Because the beings in her own world experience far more suffering than in the human realm, it is easier for Preta to clearly identify the main causes of oppression for people. She longs for a world where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. She develops anger on behalf of the people she identifies with. Due to the power of her anger, she discovers she is able to manifest a form that becomes visible to human beings. Unfortunately, when Preta tries to encourage people to rise up against the status quo, they see only an angry monster and run away in fear.
She becomes increasingly isolated and depressed, as her heart sinks she becomes invisible again. She begins to walk…
Preta Eshana walks to places she has never been before. She walks across the seas, to different continents. Following bright lights she ends up in a wealthy city where she begins to mingle with the rich and powerful.
At first, she is consumed by a mixture of jealousy and revulsion. Later, upon examining the lifestyles of the ruling class, she contemplates their inability to be content, their dissatisfaction with what they already have and their continual craving for more material wealth, power and status.
She realises a commonality: all living beings regardless of wealth or position experience the loneliness of separation. A loneliness that prevents them from enjoying any good fortune that they may already have.
She comes to the understanding that all living beings, even those who play the role of subjugating force, lack any real freedom and happiness.
Preta Eshana realises that all living beings hold the same basic wishes: to be happy and to be free from suffering. She considers how living beings become more dissatisfied the more they consume. She understands that this holds true regardless of who or what they are.
Preta contemplates that all the harm in the world is the caused by living beings’ strong dependency on things outside of themselves for their own happiness and that this is one of the main reasons why living beings harm each other.
Preta sees that in order for there to be any lasting peace in the world, a new story needs to found; one that understands that an internal revolution is intrinsic for any lasting external change. She visits several people on different paths to discover what this means to them.
After visiting several people, Preta begins a quest to find ways to dissolve the separateness of self.
Realising a new story of love, wisdom, and interconnectedness, she begins to throw away her self-centred attachment.
She is told by Abyha, that due to her valuable discoveries, she may continue to live in the human realm. She declines Abyha’s offer, stating she would prefer to go back and assist the beings in the spirit realm whose pain is much more severe. .
As a result of her pure intention, she dissolves into ‘flow’, a refined energy that possesses the ability to plant seeds into people’s hearts. These seeds afford any living being a window to temporarily cease focusing on the suffering of self and to experience the world of other, thereby providing an example to more living beings, as Preta had done.
The ultimate aim of this project is to help people unashamedly reclaim important words such as love, compassion and wisdom. Hopefully along the way, knowingly or unknowingly, everyone involved can discover new ways to re-imagine our world, thereby strengthening harmony, vision, trust and direction.