Talk on Spirituality as an Art
by: Sri Chinmoy
Dear seekers, dear sisters and brothers, I wish to give a talk on spirituality as an art. Spirituality is not only an art, but a divine, illumining and fulfilling art. The work of a human artist very often expresses his individuality, his personality and his earthbound consciousness. The work of a divine artist expresses God the Beauty, God the Divinity and God the Reality. The human artist either surrenders to fate or revolts against fate. The divine artist accepts fate and finally transforms fate.
Art is creation; creation is art. Human art is often a forced creation. In ordinary human art the physical, vital, mind and heart are often forced to try to create something beautiful, lasting and immortal. But in spiritual art nothing is forced. In spiritual art the psychic being comes to the fore and tries to offer the inner art, which is already immortal. The psychic being inspires the body, vital, mind and heart to participate and cooperate in the creation of the work of art.
The great American philosopher Emerson said something most significant with regard to art. He said that in art the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can inspire. In spiritual art the same rule is applicable. But here we have to say also that the heart can never execute anything higher than the soul can inspire. In ordinary human art we often notice a yawning gulf between the heart’s loftiest inspiration and the hand’s limited capacity. But in spiritual art there is no yawning gulf between the soul’s capacity and the heart’s receptivity. The heart becomes a conscious instrument of the soul’s capacity and the soul’s capacity operates in and through the heart’s receptivity. The aspiring receptivity of the heart and the illumining capacity of the soul complement each other.
Each artist has a human artist and a divine artist within himself. The divine artist and the human artist play hide and-seek within his creativity. When the human artist within him comes to the fore, the person exhibits his art with the hope of receiving appreciation and admiration. He wants the critics and admirers of art to extoll his art to the skies. But when the divine artist comes to the fore, the artist does not need or want appreciation; he wants only to elevate the earth consciousness through his divine art, to energise and immortalise the earth consciousness through his divine art.
Both spiritual art and ordinary human art deal with beauty. The human artist has come to feel and realise that the beauty in his art is skin deep. But the divine artist has discovered something totally different. He has discovered that beauty is soul deep. When one discovers soul deep art, one is inspired to dive deeper. When he dives deeper, he discovers God the Art. God the Art is at once the revelation and the manifestation of the ever transcending consciousness of the Eternal Now. Soul-deep art is constantly leading and guiding the terrestrial consciousness to the ever transcending Reality.
Spiritual art is divine discovery. It realises that the supreme discovery can be made only in and through spirituality. The supreme discovery is God realisation. The ultimate aim of spiritual art is God realisation. God realisation comes only through hard work. Nothing lasting can be achieved overnight. It may take quite a few incarnations, quite a few centuries, before one sees God face to face or merges with the infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. In the ordinary human world we know how hard Hillary and Tensing worked in order to climb Mount Everest. Spiritual art, the divine discovery, also means climbing up to the highest pinnacle. The motto of this august university is most significant: “Through hard work to the heights.” This motto is the universal message, the universal teaching, of all spiritual art.
It is said that one can simplify everything, that everything can be made easy. But if the supreme art, the art of God-realisation, could be made easy through money power or some other power, then every day thousands or millions of human beings would be able to realise God the supreme Artist. But this is not true. For the art of God realisation we need aspiration. This aspiration eventually will knock at God’s Door, and God will open the Door to the aspiration of each divine artist. If we want to discover the supreme art or the supreme Artist, we have to strengthen our friendship with two divine friends of ours: aspiration and patience. With aspiration and patience eventually we shall reach God’s transcendental Height.
Right in front of me is a harmonium. If I tried to draw or paint this harmonium, if I tried to offer all my artistic talent to reveal and manifest the essence of this harmonium, the divinity that I would offer to the world would be very limited and insignificant. But if I placed in front of me a picture of the Saviour Christ and tried to draw him, if with my utmost inner aspiration I used my artistic talents and capacities to try to reveal the quintessence of the Christ Consciousness, then if I succeeded in revealing just an iota of this Consciousness, my achievement would become a unique treasure of Mother Earth. If our painting reveals more of the potentiality of the soul and makes it easier for this potentiality to be assimilated, then we have brought to the fore the essence of all pervading divinity.
There is a very common maxim that says: “Art for art’s sake.” But I wish to say that spiritual art cannot be just for art’s sake. Spiritual art can be only for God’s sake. When God manifestation can take place in abundant measure, spiritual art is consciously, soulfully and devotedly playing its role. In human art there is a creative motive and a finished product. The cause is followed by the effect. In spiritual art there is no motive or cause; everything is spontaneous. The result, which is already there, is only waiting for God’s choice Hour to be manifested. In spiritual art the artist depends entirely on his soul’s awakening, his heart’s inner mounting cry, his mind’s conscious and constant search for the highest Truth, his vital’s dynamic approach to the ultimate Reality and his body’s unconditional service to divinity’s height.
In ordinary art very often the artist and the critic inside him go together. Each must play his respective role; otherwise, the artist will always think that his art is by far the best, and that it transcends all criticism. Each time an artist creates something, if the critic in him also plays a significant role, then the artist may attain a satisfactory standard. But again, if the critic constantly and mercilessly plays his role, then the artist may not survive: he may die through his own self criticism.
When a spiritual seeker enters into the field of art, he does not criticise his art. He does not play the role of a critic; he plays the role only of a conscious, constant, awakened and unconditional instrument of his Inner Pilot, the supreme Artist. He is not the doer; he is only the conscious instrument of the doer within him. He feels that the supreme Artist within him is the supreme inspirer, the supreme Revealer, the supreme Liberator and the supreme Fulfiller of the Consciousness divine that is going to be manifested through his art.
Here we are all seekers; we are all spiritual artists. Let us dive deep within and discover the supreme Artist within us, who is constantly supplying us with infinite inspiration and aspiration to reveal the supreme Light, Delight and Perfection through our spiritual art. Our spiritual art is Self discovery. Self discovery and God-discovery are one and the same. Today Self discovery is our Goal. Tomorrow God-manifestation will be our Goal. Today let us dive deep within for God realisation. Tomorrow we shall dive deeper for God manifestation, which is the supreme, ever transcending, eternal Art.
June 25, 1974
University of Birmingham