Art and yogi meditation are both creative states of human consciousness, coming from the same source, but directed towards different directions: art is directed towards sensitive exterior manifestations, while meditation towards the interior integration of shapes and sensitive impressions. This difference is related to secondary factors, not the essential nature of art and meditation. Meditation is neither pure abstraction, nor the denial of forms, except for its final stages. Meditation means the perfect concentration of mind and the elimination of unnecessary aspects regarding the subject chosen until we become perfectly conscious of it, thus experimenting a particular aspect of reality or experiencing it from a certain point of view.
Art acts in the same way: it uses external shapes of the world not to imitate nature, but to reveal a superior reality by excluding chance and by bringing visible form to the level of symbol, thus expressing a direct experience of life.
The same exprerience can be developped through the process of meditation, but instead of creating a formal expression (objective existence), it gives a subjective impression, thus becoming a forming agent of our inner structure, enriching and refining the consciousness of the one who meditates.
Meditation and art are interwoven
The highest or most intense state of meditation or perfect absorption is a meditation without support / object. This could be described as a “spiritual space” or “vacuum”, “creative void” where universal aspects of our innermost center, our Essential Self (ATMAN) can manifest most profoundly. In this sense, meditation can be described as the awakening of a creative attitude, of a superior intuitive state of receptiveness.
The artist who has the talent (inborn or developped by sustained conscious effort) to express such an intuitive (or direct) expreience is crystallizing his inner vision in a visible, audible or tangible form, reversing the process of meditation into a process of materialization. This presupposes that the artist has already acquiered this inner experience. The process can be stimulated by external stimulus, by the ingenuity of the artist, or by spiritual practice. These factors often act together: the fascinating beauty of nature, a rarely expressive face, an uplifted illuminating thought can stimulate the latent genius; and as a result of conscious concentration on such flashes of illumination, the experience gains a definite form and finally a work of art is being materialized.
Artistic creation is not directed exclusively the opposite direction as yogi meditation, as it may appear at a superficial look taking in consideration only formal expression. In its conceptual phase it is following the same path as meditation. Art and meditation are interwoven, creating thus one another.
For the artist nothing matters but the act of creation
The importance of art and its relation to meditation is not only how it is created.The effects of a work of art, the experience it leads the one contemplating it or listenig to it is also very important. The artsit may sometimes not be interested in the effects of his work. For him, the only thing that really matters is the process of creation. The main importance of art in human life is the inspiration it may give to all those who open their hearts to it. Great works of art had a greater influence on humanity than great sovereigns. Even great releigions have survived usually through their artistic creations. Artistic language speaks to us through the ages, even after all languages of those times fell into oblivion.
Artistic emotion is an act of re-creation or a creation in the opposite direction, that is towards the sourse of inspiration. It is an act of absorbtion liberating us from our little limitary ego in a creative experience of a widend univers and intercorrelating manifestations of life.
Thus, art means a forever renewed concentrical attack at the Essence, the explosion of the ego into infinity, the complete annulation of all limitations by a continuous series of radiations and inspirations; condensation of the univers into a microscopic focus and regaining the magical balance between our soul and the univers. The object of art is the condensation of all currents, forces and aspects in the plane of human understanding and experience; the projection of our inner experience to the infinit. Dissolving and transformation of the ephemeral ego into an infinite space or creative void (here void menas a complete nonresistence) means the detached acceptance of the world in the unbound (that is inlimited) soul.
Art and spirituality meets here in a sphere of consciousness where differences no longer exist. Whenever spirituality is a living force, it finds its natural and spontaneous expression in art, just the same as art in its highest forms of expression becomes a spiritual path.
Art and spirituality
A perfect combination between art and spirituality was realised for example by yogis or buddhist mystics who materialised their vision in sculptures, pictures, hymns, architecture, philosophy and poetry, taking the message of their high realisation into all Asia.
The contemplation of beauty, says Buddha, frees us of all egotistic preoccupations; lifts us up into a plane of harmony and perfect happiness, creating a rehearsal for final eliberation, encouraging us to long even more intensely for self-realisation, which means the discovery of our essential reality, revealing thus this reality as a focus point of universal forces that penetrate us as sunrays through a convergent lens. Light rays do not stop by this lens or by its focus, they do not become a property of the lenses. The lenses serve just to focus and reunite them in the picture of the Sun, to reunite its forces until it glows. În the same way the individual being serves to focus the forces of the universe until it glows, that is unitl the sparkle of inspiratoion or illumination and the individual becomes conscious of its universal nature – another way of saying that the universe becomes coscious of itself.
Authentic Art is a Manifestation of Beauty
Authentic beauty is at the same time authentic meaning, making an intimate relationship between man with not only his immidiate surroundings, but also with something that is beyond his momentary existence as an individual, “separate” being.This makes a yogi or an authentic artist enter a spiritual relationship with mountains, rivers, trees, rocks, as ell as humans, animals, gods and demons. Beauty does not exclude the terrible as we can see it in superb representations of the terrible forces in tibetan paintings. Contemplative artists of the East absorbed in their own being, a waterfall, a landscape, a face or whatever they wanted to represent, unitl they united with the object. Only then they started to create from inside, without considering the outer forms. Inner experience was more important for them than external trainig. A completely interiorized being transcends common rationality, having its own laws manifesting from above the mind.
The rythm of a far East painting, for example, has no rational or discursive origin: its is an inner rythm just like the rythm of music.
Art, as a manifestation of authentic beauty (or of Inner Truth), through the purity of introspective vision is the greatest creative power. Even imperfections of the outer world can be a stimulus for creativity, as real beauty can be discovered only by the one who – with the help of his awakened consciousness - is able to complete the incomplete.
The wise men of the East considered art as a meditative pratice, like a form of yoga. „Virility in life or in art is the possibility to grow.”, say the buddhist texts, describing art as a dynamic process towards perfection. Buddhist meditation inspired new ideals in art in Central Asia and the Far East, just the same as it did earlier in its original country. The creation of a work of art was considered as an act of creative meditation, while artistic emotion and the contemplation of a work of art was a part of spiritual training. Without such a training noone could say that he really had part in spiritual training. Adepts of Zen practice aim the direct unity with the inner nature of things, where exterior accessories are just obstacles in perceiving Truth. This thirst for abstract conducted Zen practitioners to prefer balck-and-white sketches to elaboratley colored paintings of classic Buddhist Schools.
What gives value for a work of art?
The value of a work of art is not given by its subject, but the impulse for inspiration, the spontaneity of inner experience by which it was created and it awakens in the one who contemplates it. Our capacity to respond to the hidden meaning of a work of art had to be cultivated just as well as the capacity to create such a work of art. Just as well as the artist has to master the material and the canvas he is creating, the one who wants to live art has to prepare his instrument of receptivity to realise such a profound resonance possible only when the mind is completely empty of all parazite thoughts and secondary preoccupations( in this sense, the term SHUNYATA, creative void, can be called a perfect state of resonance).
Tibetan religious art goes even further. The one contemplating a work of art is not expected to to re-experiment the vision of the artist by being absorbed in each detail, but also to re-create it in his consciousness, fill it with life until it regains its reality in his inner vision just the same as if it was projected in space. Unlike the work of art created by an artist which has become an object existing independently from the artist, the the one modelling the work of art has to re-absorb his vison, inversing the act of creation and re-integrating it in the essence of his consciousness. This eliberates him from the attachment towards his own creation and from the illusion of separation between subject and object.