art & spirituality
Jackson Pollock, while pouring, flicking and dripping paint onto canvas laid out on the floor, the artist is looking what his hand is doing. You are aware of the words you're reading. Normally you don't think about it but the way you look to your body isn't any different from the way you look to your feelings and thoughts, and even to the body of someone else, like your neighbor. While painting, Pollock's awareness stays the same, his hand is the doer, he himself -so to speak- is watching, his awareness stays the same, it doesn't move or change and is always there and is unlimited; the possibilities of awareness are unlimited. At this moment you are aware of many things all together, your senses are constantly giving information and the mind is translating what the senses receive in concepts in order for you to understand.
The message of the artist, Wassily Kandinsky is saying in his spiritual explanation of art, is to harmonize, by trying to find the essence of this life. 'One' in this sense means non-dual, no subject-object, no you and me. We experience life as a duality. We are the subject and everything else is object. We, the subject, are looking to the world around us. That's duality. Non-duality means all is one. No border between you and me.
A spiritual way of understanding art, and life. In the following I'm speaking about modern and contemporary art and their relation to spirituality, specially with Vedanta. Advaita Vedanta, ‘the knowledge that ends the quest for knowledge’, is a means of self knowledge sourced in the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita.
Reality isn't what it seems to be, our own reality isn't what it seems to be.
Take the instance of moving pictures on the screen in the cinema. It starts with the screen, a blank sheet. On that screen you see the film, and the pictures are real and you loose yourself in the story. After the play, when the pictures disappear, what remains? The screen again! So with the blank sheet you essentially are. We are getting more personal now. That alone stays untouched; the pictures come and go. If you hold on to the blank sheet, you will not be deceived by the appearance of the pictures. Nor does it matter at all if the pictures appear or disappear.
Let's go back to the beginning. While explaining what Vedanta is saying.
The seed. Our zero point. You put a seed of an apple tree in the ground and you get an apple tree, not one with oranges. In this seed the whole tree is already there, but when you open and investigate the seed you will not find a mini apple tree, or in a day old embryo a mini you. It's like an idea or concept that is waiting for the right conditions, earth, water, sun -in the case of the apple tree-to burst out.
We were born. We don't have thoughts; because for thoughts you need concepts and nobody told you yet that there is a difference between your mom and your dad, or between a table and a chair. And nobody also told you that you are you. The name you were given will not ring any bell in you, yet. There is a baby but there is not a person. It doesn't mean that it is a blank sheet, the seed is not empty, we all have our own imprint. You are you and not your neighbor.
The person you will be, will be born in time, it will develop in time. Still, for the new born child all is one;
The new born child is aware of colors, sounds, smells and senses, light and dark, hard and soft. The days are filled with all kind of impressions, they are fluid and merge into one another and into the child. It is if everything is the child.
When the body of a baby needs food it knows it has to make noise -there is no person that thinks "i am hungry". The body knows, like it knows how to breath, how it knows how to pump the blood through the veins. We as a person have nothing to do with all that. We say 'I breath in and I breath out' and 'I see or i smell or 'I hear' but the fact is that we as a person just see it happen. We are the witness.
When this witness grows up it learns, mom becomes mom, a table a table, the color red red and the child becomes a person. It still is a witness though, that doesn't change. YOU, with capital letters -Vedanta explains-, are a witness. A witness of your life. The witness of you as a person. The person is growing, learning, changing. The witness stays the same, the whole way.
If Morandi painted his tins and vase in one arrangement one day, he would move the vase a few inches and paint them anew the next day. These minute transformations amazed Morandi. He didn't need anything more. A slight change in the light, a subtle shift in direction, and his world of only a few things was forever fresh and new.
He is showing simple and humble things, no high philosophy but the daily life we easily oversee. It seems he is telling us: Everything is a mystery, ourselves, and all things both simple and humble." (12)
As persons we are seemingly different (seemingly because we know that our experiences, our thoughts and feelings are more or less the same. We all know happiness, sadness, fear).
As witnesses we are one. Why do i say this? Or why does Vedanta says this, it's not me personally that found it out in my own.
Another word for the witness is awareness or consciousness. We are conscious beings and your consciousness is the same as mine. If yours were different, how could we communicate, thats impossible isn't it? Our senses work the same. We see, hear and taste the same, the one stronger, clearer or darker then the other but from this point of view, from the witness point of view there is no essential difference, no border, no you and me, no personalities. No duality.
When we 'are' consciousness, when we accept that consciousness is our essence, there is no duality.
The person, you, has a mind who thinks in concepts, created concepts, in symbols. Our eyes just see. We as a person, our mind, separate the table from the chair because our mind thinks in concepts, it only can think in concepts. We created the table in our mind.
Huh? First we invented the table, we thought it was handy to have one, so we created one. When the table is there, in front of us, you could say that the table is a thought, a concept. It origins from the 'thought' 'table'; the thought became name and form. It became a manifestation of a thought. I'm pointing this out because i want to show you the difference between the real and the unreal. Between the blank sheet we essentially are and what we created, what we think we are and what we think the world is like. The wood of the table is hard, no doubt about it, and we can sit on our created chair, no problem.
We think in concepts.
Feelings are thoughts too so they are also concepts. We feel happy or sad because we name it happy and sad. What is sadness without a name? It loses value, it becomes something that passes by in consciousness. As soon as we give something, like sadness, a name, we stick to it, we think its ours, we think it belongs to us. We think it is the truth.
This is a different way to look at yourself. Normally we follow our thoughts and feelings. This is the way we relate to ourselves and to the world. This is our reality. Nothing wrong with that of course but the problem is that our reality constantly changes. We were born, live our lives and then die. And, following the idea of reincarnation, we are born again, and again. We accept this changing reality as a fact of life and try to make the best of it.
But one major fact of life is that we want to be happy, this is our goal in life. We all want happiness. Is there anybody that doesn't want to be happy? No.
When everything always changes, how can we be happy?
The purpose of the knowledge of reality -the reality of consciousness -and the apparent reality -the reality of how we as an individual experience reality-is, freedom and happiness. (Art and Spirituality)
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