In 1969 Abdullah wrote a book, Probings, on the ideas of G.I. Gurdjieff, Hazrat Inayat Khan and other Sufis. In 1970 this had not been published, but several people who had read the manuscript asked him to elucidate further so midway through the year he decided to try to illustrate these ideas by painting.
As Abdullah’s group had been studying Gurdjieff for some years Abdullah decided that his first painting would illustrate one of Gurdjieff’s ideas. The method he adopted was to still his mind and stand in front of the canvas until he was inspired to paint. It took about two hours to do the background and another two to finish the painting. When he finished he said to his wife he could see that this was the middle of a series and he would have to do four more paintings to complete the series.
While painting these four it became apparent to Abdullah that these would not be the end and he would have to keep painting for some time, as another source had presented to him. At this point he thought the first ten paintings could be incorporated in Probings, but then he knew he had to do about eighty paintings to complete his new aim, which was to use paintings to teach his own ideas as well as other people’s, and to show objectively man and his place in the universe.
On meditation, Abdullah found that his paintings should be based on a scale of colour as well as the spiral:
White: the Absolute or His Endlessness, everything existing in the universe without end.
Red: Antares, Ahura Mazda or Hu, the Sun of our Sun and the centre of our own galaxy.
Orange: our Father the Sun, the God of the planet Earth, Allah, or God the Father. [Abdullah regarded yellow as a part of orange. – Eds.]
Green: the Earth, our mother God, Great Nature.
Blue: man; an experiment in consciousness, part of the atmosphere of the Earth.
Purple: the negative emotions and passions of man.
Black: the Absolute on the lower end of the scale, the negative aspect of His Endlessness.
Throughout the paintings Abdullah has used this scale and a great amount of attention must be given to the placing of colour. The background colours are very important and shades of colour play a very definite part in the teaching.
As a Sufi, Abdullah believes that nothing stands still in respect of the outer aspects of any teaching. When he started the paintings he was not as developed as teachers such as Gurdjieff or Hazrat Inayat Khan, but he believed that he must realise his own self and refuse to be a hod carrier. Everyone is the result of his conditioning and heredity. As a New Zealander Abdullah built on other cultures and tried to understand the wonderful teachers who have shown the way. It must be understood that the Earth is a conscious being and men are placed on different parts of the globe for different purposes. Just as we have an arm or a leg for specific jobs, so the Earth conditions men in different lands for her purpose.
Basically there is only one truth and, inasmuch as there is only one God which exists in everything, we find ourselves in a strange position: because of our senses we see, hear, touch, smell and even taste those around us with the consequent conclusion that we are separate and divided. On one level we are separate, but somewhere in us there is something or things which make us one with God. The whole purpose of life is to seek this perfection and be in unity with everything existing.
Abdullah does not intend to explain in words everything depicted in each painting, but rather to give a guide to a realisation of what is being taught. Mr Gurdjieff’s conditioning was to make everything hard to find, as anyone who has read All and Everything knows, and this is quite a valid way to teach. Inayat Khan, an Indian Sufi, also kept plenty back, but he was much straighter than Gurdjieff and his books are much easier to read. However, he was not as methodical as Gurdjieff. Abdullah’s intention was to try to reconcile these two attitudes.