- Paperback: 215 pages
- Publisher: Share International Fdn (June 30, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9071484378
- ISBN-13: 978-9071484377
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.2 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,355,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Art of Living: Living within the Laws of Life
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Benjamin Creme points out that living correctly is indeed an art, and that life, like the arts, is subject to certain immutable laws. This volume is in three sections and offers a great wealth and depth of information presented in a lucid, highly readable manner.
In section one, The Art of Living , the arts of painting and music are points of entry into a discussion of the spiritual meaning and purpose of life on Earth. An art, whether painting, music or some other art, has to obey certain laws and rules. If you want to be a painter or composer, you have to learn the laws by which the art is formed; the methods too, but more profoundly the laws governing the qualities of art, like proportion, like revelation. The magic of art is stored in the obedience to these laws. The beauty and harmony expressed in great works of art are demonstrations of qualities inherent in humanity... Benjamin Creme notes: We are not taught how to live, the art of living. There is no school where we can go to learn the art of living. It is a spiritual problem because the art of living is tied up with living itself. There is a Divine Plan for the progress and evolution of all life on Earth. Central to this Plan are Great Laws. Creme writes: Men will learn and understand the subtle laws which govern their lives ... the Law of Karma, of Cause and Effect, which controls the destiny of all; the related Law of Rebirth, which makes possible the journey of the Soul in matter; the Law of Harmlessness, which governs right relationship, and the great Law of Sacrifice, by which all evolution proceeds. ... Every single human being is conditioned by the past, by its parents, by the very nature of its vehicles [personality, mental, astral and physical], which have been created for it by its soul under the Law of Karma.
The second section of the book addresses the conflict of: The Pairs of Opposites . It arises from the fact that man is an immortal soul immersed in matter, the meeting ground of spirit and matter and the tensions which their concurrence evokes ... Gradually spiritualising matter over the long course of our incarnational journey is the primary reason for man s life on Earth. Benjamin Creme s central theme is the reappearance in our time of the World Teacher, the Lord Maitreya, and a group of similarly perfected men, the Masters of Wisdom. As the Enlightened One expected by all major religions and a Teacher for all of humanity, His teachings show the way forward, a way in which men can begin to break the bonds of the conditioning which enthral us. Three elements central to these teachings are honesty of mind, sincerity of spirit and detachment. Honesty of mind means that our thoughts, words and actions are consistent and do not conflict. Sincerity of spirit simply means being one s self... If one is truly detached, then one is not affected by conditioning...These ideas are simple in essence , as Creme states, but they nonetheless require effort and discipline to put into practice. They are the method of striking a creative balance between the impulses of the soul and the pull of matter. The persistent practice of these principles also helps clear the way for the intuition, a faculty of the soul, to function in a far more unobstructed manner.
A world is described by Benjamin Creme in one of the book s most moving passages. We are all seeking balance, we are all seeking unity, equilibrium, however we define it. It is that which allows us to be creative and happy... We do not have words for the quality of that civilisation. Nor for the feeling, the experience, of that relationship when all people see and experience themselves as brothers and sisters of one home, one planet.
Review by Marc Gregory from California, a musician and student of the Ageless Wisdom Teachings. --Share International
About the Author
Scottish-born artist, lecturer and esotericist Benjamin Creme dedicated much of his life to preparing the world for the most extraordinary event in human history – the return to the everyday world of our spiritual mentors, the Spiritual Hierarchy of Masters with, at their head, Maitreya, the World Teacher. (See ‘More About the Author’ below)
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Creme's literature, distilled from numerous talks and lectures, expounds various aspects of this message. In The Art of Living, the author concentrates on three ideas. First, living as human beings is the most exceptional of arts and thus requires the utmost dedication and the best of training. No educator would dispute this; actually, many would tout the superiority of their own moral and educational system over others. But this is exactly the problem. All theories and systems produce conditioning, eventually pitting us against other people. The returned Christ's mission, Creme affirms, is primarily an educational one. He is here to demonstrate (not simply preach) the perennial laws of Life so that we all can fulfill our potential without recourse to competition and dominance. Chief among these are the ones of Cause and Effect (known as Karma in Eastern traditions), of Rebirth (allows the application of the former across successive incarnations), of Harmlessness (relating to the world from a position of equilibrium, away from the extremes of destruction and imitation), and of Sacrifice (evolution proceeds through giving up a lower aspect of oneself to attain a higher one).
To make living an art form, however, we need to address the fundamental problems of (psychological) conflict and illusion. Creme explores each one in the remaining parts of the book. I find his discourse both pragmatic and optimistic. Instead of condemning these types of conditioning, he accepts them as inevitable stages in human evolution. Conflict emerges as our consciousness begins to register the competing demands of our divine and material natures. However painful this experience may be, it shows that we are awakening souls. Without moral dilemmas we would have been condemned to the mechanical living of animals. Therefore, we should not be afraid of conflict, but rather address and resolve it. We can do that, Creme proposes, through detachment. Abstaining from strong emotional reactions and wisely navigating between aspiration and inertia allows us to gradually establish control over our life.
Far more challenging is the problem of illusion, which affects people discovering the power of the mind. These often believe that intellectuality and sophistication will release them from emotionalism and bring them closer to reality. Creme asserts that the mind, too, obscures reality and has to be overcome through intuition. This last, unfortunately, cannot be developed, only invoked through better alignment with one's soul. Detachment and personal thought control are essential for this to happen.
Diligent readers will find much to ponder on in this volume. Creme is a wonderful narrator who can capture the essence of things in a few sentences, and discuss complicated issues in a way that is direct and often humorous. I would especially recommend his views on the importance of leisure (freedom from the need to survive) for the unfolding of one's spiritual potential; the replacement of memory and mechanical activity with intuition, which guarantees true creativity; and finally, the role of detachment in achieving harmony and peace. At the same time, I should caution that people of a fundamentalist mindset would find little value in the book. Creme's literature requires a degree of intellectual autonomy and spiritual poise that is incompatible with exclusive claims to truth. An open-mind is to be expected if the reader wishes to engage with this body of writings.