Loved the passage and loved hearing everyone's comments last night! Pancho shared that the author of this piece is none other than Viral Mehta (spelled backwards!). :) I missed that one completely.
Loved Sanjeev's comment here as well.
The word "art" means "skill," which has both a positive and a negative connotation depending on the context. The word "artful" can mean "skillful," but it can also mean someone who is not genuine and is full or "art." The word "artless" can mean "unskillful," but it can also mean someone who is genuine and sincere. Therefore, the true meaning of art cannot be separated from the beings involved in it, as the passage seems to imply.
What the passage brought up for me is that art is an invitation to transcend the limitation of what is offered, and see beyond in a deeper dimension. The more the dimensions of a resulting experience, the more artistic it is. Entertainment and art are on a continuum of experience. When we experience something at a shallow level, it is entertainment. When it is deep, the experience is art.
There are times when the experience is so deep that we break through all our finite dimensions, and no longer have a sense of the limited. We no longer think of being elsewhere. We don't think, period. That is a moment of unity, not just with the artist and the art, but really with everything around us in a way that we cannot express. We then spend the rest of our lives sharing that other such experiences using what is finite and totally incapable of capturing the infinite, and that becomes our profound art. It is treated as dull by some, entertainment by others, and as art by only a few. And thus the game of life unfolds. This reminded me of Haricharan Das, a guest speaker here a couple of weeks back said, art is a spiritual pursuit - a capturing of our deepest perception of the universe.
Rahul shared that art is the combination of truth and beauty, and that genius is about being able to see it and attempt to bring it in our work. Truth and beauty are always around us, but we are too blind to see it. Reminded me of another Haricharan Das saying, that the universe/God has put on a galactic show for our entertainment, but we don't have the time to see it.
For me, art was when, on a stroll on the 10th day of a Vipassana meditation course, I found myself in the company of flowers from which colors overflowed. The yellow ochre and the surrounding lush green was of a quality I cannot express. I stood transfixed. When I was finally able to look around, I found a co-meditator transfixed the same way. Others have also told me of similar experiences, so the intellect says, "That's right - it is the clutter in your head that you reduced and you could see better." But then, without the clutter, would I know to appreciate beauty? As Ripa shared, the shadows are important as well, as they give contrast to the light.
Bhoutik shared about art in the mundane, or a beautifully done bed. Someone else shared about the Japanese desire for perfection in everyday things. Shakti talked about the beauty of things as they are - for instance, a messy bed. That reminded me of the Japanese idea of "wabi-sabi" (not to be confused with wasabi), which is the "art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature."
Shalini shared an experience of the beauty of the blue sky, and Shakti shared an experience of the beauty of a newt. Chris shared his experience of art in the circle.
Pancho threaded it all together with "The Art of Living," which seemed to be the theme that emerged, requiring slowing down, developing in awareness. He also talked about balancing art with science, which reminded me of the great scientist, Richard Feynman, who went one step further, passionately asking for us to find art in science! In his essay titled The Value of Science, he writes,
"With more knowledge comes deeper, more wonderful mystery, luring one on to penetrate deeper still. Never concerned that the answer may prove disappointing, but with pleasure and confidence we turn over each new stone to find unimagined strangeness leading on to more wonderful questions and mysteries -- certainly a grand adventure!
It is true that few unscientific people have this particular type of religious experience. Our poets do not write about it; our artists do not try to portray this remarkable thing. I don't know why. Is nobody inspired by our present picture of the universe? The value of science remains unsung by singers, so you are reduced to hearing -- not a song or a poem, but an evening lecture about it. This is not yet a scientific age."
The "religious experience" Feynman is talking about is shared earlier in the piece through this poem (a fitting end to this comment on art):
"For instance, I stand at the seashore, alone, and start to think.
There are the rushing waves ... mountains of molecules, each stupidly minding its own business ... trillions apart ... yet forming white surf in unison.
Ages on ages ... before any eyes could see ... year after year ... thunderously pounding the shore as now. For whom, for what? ... on a dead planet, with no life to entertain.
Never at rest ... tortured by energy ... wasted prodigiously by the sun ... poured into space. A mite makes the sea roar.
Deep in the sea, all molecules repeat the patterns of one another till complex new ones are formed. They make others like themselves ... and a new dance starts.
Growing in size and complexity ... living things, masses of atoms, DNA, protein ... dancing a pattern ever more intricate.
Out of the cradle onto the dry land ... here it is standing ... atoms with consciousness ... matter with curiosity.
Stands at the sea ... wonders at wondering ... I ... a universe of atoms ... an atom in the universe."
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