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Entertainment Vs. Art

--by Lariv Athem (Jan 11, 2011)
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In the increasingly information-heavy times in which we live, distractions abound. The word distraction literally points back to a certain losing (dis) of control (traction). We start off with an intention to focus on something, but then a momentary lapse of clarity leads us astray.  The drifting isn’t just arbitrary – there is a subtle attraction, and our attention finds itself diverted. It doesn’t help that there are many things vying for our time, some of them designed specifically to reel us in. And then there are times when we actually want to mentally check out. This is what a mindset of entertainment is, seeking amusement over engagement, and appearance over essence.

Of course, there is a major distinction between entertainment and art. Both operate in the domain of aesthetics – but the difference is the depth with which we experience and explore. At its crux, art is about recognizing, knowing, and appreciating beauty. It implicates us in ways we don’t even realize. Consciously practicing this kind of engagement with art is to hold a certain mindset. “Art is an attention to everyday living,” a dear friend once told me. Is there art in the way we make our beds, or the way we cut fruit? In the way we see the sunlight bathing the hillside? Bringing this kind of understanding is really about recognizing that we have access to that beauty exactly where we are. It makes the ordinary, extra-ordinary and also, the extra-ordinary, significant. In that sense, art can bring us deeper into our experience of the moment, enriching our perception, and deepening our awareness of the previously unknown, and perhaps even previously unknowable. Something about the process of engaging in this way not only changes what we perceive, it changes how we perceive.

Ultimately, whether we approach an experience with a mindset of entertainment or art is determined largely by what we practice.  Entertainment can be repeatedly experienced, but it can’t be practiced. Art can. It is conscious, reverent, and limited only by our imagination.

--Lariv Athem


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11 Previous Reflections:

 
On Aug 2, 2013 betsy wrote:

 The mind wants to focus on the hard or the bad times...the ego allows it...putting the ego aside you can find the good in the heart the soul and the actions, try to focus the mind on the good, on the emotion, on the feeling...once you get to the core of that emotion study hard on the reaction the ego wants you to feel...the ego will try to see bad, dark, the storms..but if you let your heart do the talking you will feel the good, the  love, the true meaning of the feeling. Reflection is a wonderful thing because in reflecting back on issues you can see the lesson of life, who taught the lesson and why.



On Jun 9, 2011 NEVILLE wrote:

It only takes a keen eye to find and feel art in literally everything.The way we chew our food,laugh and even walk.



On Jun 8, 2011 VERONICA wrote:

hi my name is veronica working with the keiskamma art project in the eastern cape region in south africa dealing with embroidery,pottery,book making,tapestries, lets keep it up guys.WITH ART WE CAN HEAL. PLEASE SEE OUR WEB,WWW.KEISKAMMA.ORG



On Jun 6, 2011 navin sata wrote:

TRUE art is Inner self reflects through Painting, sculpture/ music,poetry or just silent smile plus much more artist can put ocen in pot or think hands that can paint sky  and others can enjoy as much they can understand with their self  most  will enjoy outer beauty  and some will dive in deep concious , always love



On Feb 22, 2011 Nadine Menezes wrote:

What a great piece :) Loved this article and reading Somik's comment. Thanks for posting this!



On Feb 7, 2011 Somik wrote:

You can find more articles by the author at this website



On Feb 7, 2011 Amarendra wrote:

I would like to know more about  "Lariv Athem" . very nicely written and meaningful.



On Jan 17, 2011 Pancho wrote:

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all.    It is not news to be deeply touched by the love and generosity offered at the Kindness Temple. This time Mamá Harshida embodied what it means to be a selfless servant leader. All week I have been sending her concentrated loving-kindness so that she gets well. She had fever and yet she cooked for us and heat the delicious meal. When I shared the details of the story with my biological parents -- who live in the part of the Planet we call Mexico-- they were equally touched and asked me to send her all our blessings. I hope they have reached her in different ways. When I hugged Mamá Harshida before leaving, I felt her high fever but she was only concerned about feeding me physically and spiritually. She inspired me beyond comprehension and my son's heart, in deep gratitude, only hopes to become a more fervent disciple of hers. These were the 3 points I shared last week:  See full.

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all. 

 
It is not news to be deeply touched by the love and generosity offered at the Kindness Temple. This time Mamá Harshida embodied what it means to be a selfless servant leader. All week I have been sending her concentrated loving-kindness so that she gets well. She had fever and yet she cooked for us and heat the delicious meal. When I shared the details of the story with my biological parents -- who live in the part of the Planet we call Mexico-- they were equally touched and asked me to send her all our blessings. I hope they have reached her in different ways. When I hugged Mamá Harshida before leaving, I felt her high fever but she was only concerned about feeding me physically and spiritually. She inspired me beyond comprehension and my son's heart, in deep gratitude, only hopes to become a more fervent disciple of hers. These were the 3 points I shared last week:
 
1. Balance
2. (r)Evolution of Living
3. Recognizing and Celebrating the Art of Living
 
1. Balance
When science and art are in balance the beauty of life blossoms at its best. 
Balance between chaos and structure, between mind and heart, between theory and practice, between equanimity and awareness... Indeed, it is an art to find balance in life.
 
2. (r)Evolution of Living
First we understand intellectually the principles of life. Once we comprehend them, we practice the art of applying them in life. And finally, the most challenging stage, we embody those principles and master that art. This is the Total (R)evolution of the Human Spirit.
 
3. Recognizing and Celebrating the Art of Living
A tragedy occurred in Tucson last weekend. But in the midst of all the violence, in the midst of all the hate, if we pay close attention, love, compassion and courage always find their way to shape our souls. We only need to recognize it and celebrate it. While a 22 year old killed 6 people, Daniel Hernández --a 20 year old-- saved the life of Gabrielle Giffords. And when he was called a "hero" he rejected the term --ala CF-- and said:
 
"Any one in my position would have done the same thing... the real heroes are people like Congresswoman Giffords, who have dedicated their lives to public service and helping others." 
 
Later, brother Barack gave a great speech recognizing all this beauty by celebrating the art of life --perhaps he should finished up his next speech with "Why only America? God bless the whole World!"
 
If we look carefully the Wednesdays passage in the mirror, if we savor the subtle details of life, we will recognize us and the author, who is our beloved hermano Viral Mehta. To come up with these kind of insights, it requires a lot of hours to still the mind. Actually, right now he is in the 37th day out of 45 of a meditation retreat, so we are sending him all our love and strength. 
 
And if we pay more attention, we will see the mastery of the art to serve and love others that exudes from this home. For more than 13 years these selfless servers have shaped our souls to be more generous, more kind, more humble. When we come to Wednesdays, we are practicing the best of crafts: the art of living.
 
May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.
Pancho

 

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On Jan 15, 2011 vikram mall wrote:

guys i realy love this phrase, it is aknowledgbale for every one who love art .



On Jan 13, 2011 Somik Raha wrote:

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 ar  See full.

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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On Jan 13, 2011 Sanjeev Verma wrote:

Very Interesting passage! This inspired me to put my all time favorite quote on "dancing"--a popular art that entertains also :-)

"Your purpose in life isn't to arrive at a destination where you find inspiration, just as the purpose of dancing isn't to end up at a particular spot on the floor. The purpose of dancing--and of life--- is to enjoy every moment and every step, regardless of where you are when the music ends." 

Sanjeev