on April 21, 2007
Soul Expression Can Be Visionary Artistry
Imagine, for a moment, the Creative Forces. How do you envision the Spirit of Life, as it expresses itself within you? When I suggest this meditation in my classes, people usually enjoy it. When I suggest to pick up a colored crayon or two and help the Creative Spirit express itself on paper, this second instruction creates more anxiety than pleasure. I hear the protest, "But I can't draw what I envisioned!" I might reply, "Just allow yourself to enjoy the process and don't be worrying so much about how you think it should look. Let it be easy, let the vision guide the drawing, let it do what it wants with itself."
After we have made our drawings, people share a little of what was experienced during the meditation and we get to see how it came out on paper. The drawings are so different, yet group members usually recognize the mark of the Creative Spirit in them. Their sheets of paper contain precious revelations. People remark favorably, of course, about those that are more "artistic." Some may denigrate their own work when comparing it with those that win the group's "artistic" award. I try to draw their attention elsewhere. It's not about being "artistic," but about honoring one's experience as best one can.
Alex Grey, author of The Mission of Art (Shambhala), writes that the purpose of making art should not be trivialized into a career path toward fame and fortune. The essential purpose of making art, he reminds us, is to honor Spirit, to make it visible, to make it real in this world. If we create also for the purpose that it might further awaken Spirit in others, then making art becomes a spiritual mission as well. If sufficient talent, dedication and hard work are present in the mix, then it can also be a profession. He calls the professional artist to a higher mission, explaining how to invite Spirit into the work. If the artist commits to bringing Spirit into the work, he claims, Spirit will collaborate with the artist.
Creating is an essential part of the soul's activity and thus belongs to everyone as their natural birthright. So he aims his book also at the rest of us, just as he does his painting. He writes, "When people are profoundly moved by art, they recall from their depths their own intuition of spiritual truth." Like Edgar Cayce, he would have us all involved in some sort of creative activity and wants us to appreciate the spiritual importance of doing so.
Even if you do not recognize the name of Alex Grey, very likely you have seen a reproduction of one of his visionary paintings. Best known are his stunning, anatomically correct renditions of a person with transparent skin, revealing the inner body as well as the spiritual energies flowing through that body. In his painting of the kissing couple, for example, you can see the spirit of the man and woman intertwine. His paintings show beautifully the truth of Spirit's activity in this world.
The fact that his stuff is extraordinarily good--dazzlingly good--doesn't take away from the fact that he is sincere when he writes that each of us is an artist. He urges us to recognize that our soul yearns to find outward expression in creative acts. Echoing the understanding of Edgar Cayce, he writes, "Seeing with the eye of the heart, the mystic eye, is seeing with the soul." Responding to the creative itch, taking the time to express it, in poetry, in cooking, in painting, honors the source. Allowing the imagination to become involved in our activities invites the soul's involvement in what we do.
I explain to my students that our doodling exercise is something of a sacred ritual. I note that we attuned ourselves to a very special inner reality, and then expressed it outwardly as honestly as we could. In other words, we gave testimony to our own experience of Spirit. By sharing our drawings, our spiritual intuitions made visible, we treated ourselves to witnessing several reflections of Spirit, expanding and sharpening our sensitivity to its qualities.
But the exercise was not without struggle. It took something akin to what Grey calls "egocide." We had to let go of notions of what the drawing "should" look like, and allow the expression of something greater than our own willful abilities." It requires turning our focus away from the ego's perceived "artistic" outcome and focus instead upon the authenticity of having honored our experience. In the back of my mind is one of my favorite ideas from the Cayce material, that the one of highest service we can give to one another is to share our experience of the Creator. I am also aware of his teachings about art being an essential path of spiritual experience. The purpose of our exercise is not to see who can make commercial art, but to enhance our connection with Spirit. We can not all be commercial artists, but by honoring the muse and being willing to share, we can all serve as visionary artists. [...]