Social Gatheka Number 25
Very few in the world link religion with art or art with
religion, but, in point of fact, art is much more important
than an average person realizes it to be, despite of the
saying, that art is what man makes and nature is what God
makes. But I would like to say that nature is what God makes
as God and art is what God makes as man. The artist who
has arrived at some perfection in his art, whatever be his
art, will come to realize that it is not he who ever did,
it is someone else who came forward at every time. And in
the perfect things that the artist produces he hardly can
imagine that it is produced by him, he can do nothing but
bow his head in perfect humility before that unseen power
and wisdom which takes his body, his heart, his brain and
his eyes as its instrument.
Whatever be that art, be it
music or poetry or painting or writing or whatever manner,
whenever beauty is produced it must not be thought that
man produced it. It is through man that God finishes His
creation. Therefore art is not only an imitation of nature,
it is an improvement upon it. Therefore there is nothing
that is done in this world and in Heaven which is not a
divine immanence, which is not the divine creation. It is
the dividing of that divine work that makes that perplexity
that separates man from his Lord.
In the first place, all things that we see in this world,
all our occupations that we engage ourselves in willingly
or unwillingly, that all leads us to accomplish a certain
purpose. No doubt there are certain things in life in which
we accomplish a greater purpose, and that can be accomplished
by an inspiration from within. Art is a domain through which
inspiration has a great faculty to manifest. In order to
become spiritual it is not necessary that man should be
very religious or extra good. In order to attain to in inspiration
what is necessary is love for beauty. What is art? Art is
a creation of beauty, in whatever form it be created.
long as an artist thinks that whatever he creates in the
form of art is his own creation, and as long as the artist
becomes vain over his creation he has not learned the true
art. For the true art can only come by one condition, and
that condition is that the artist forgets himself, he forgets
himself in the vision of beauty. And there is one condition
when his art can be still more valuable, and that condition
is that the artist begins to recognize the divine in the
art. As long as the artist has not realized it he has not
touched the perfection of art. The artist in the true sense
of the word is the king of a certain kingdom which is even
greater than the kingdom of the earth.
There is a story
known in the East, the Farabi was a great singer, a singer
who was invited to the court of the Sultan. The Sultan received
him very warmly in the court, and as the singer entered,
the Sultan went to the door to receive him. On coming in
the drawing room the Sultan asked the singer to take his
seat. 'Where shall I sit?' said the singer. The Sultan said
'Sit in any place that may be fitting to you.' On hearing
this he took the seat of the king. No doubt, it astonished
the Sultan very much, but after hearing his art he thought
that even his own seat was not quite suitable. For the kingdom
of the Sultan had a certain limitation, but the Kingdom
of the artist is everywhere, wherever beauty prevails. As
beauty is everywhere so the kingdom of the artist is everywhere.
But art is only a door, a door through which one can
enter into a still wider area. The religions have at different
times considered art as something outside. But this has
been very often a kind of fanaticism on the part of religious
authorities. And it is not only in the East, but in the
West and the East that one finds a kind of idea existing
to separate art from religion. It does not mean that all
religions do it, nor does it mean that any great teacher
of religion has taught it. It has only come from people
who have not yet realized the beauty of religion, except
its form, they have forced its simplicity on it. No one
who has touched the depth of religion can ever deny the
fact that religion itself is an art, an art which accomplishes
the greatest thing in man's life; and for that art to be
made void of beauty – there can not be a greater error than
In the first place, we can see in the ancient times in
all the Hindu and Buddhist churches and pagodas there was
music, there was poetry, there was sculpture, and there
was painting. At the time when there was not printing presses
nor could books be brought out on philosophy and religion,
if one can find any scriptures expressing the ancient religious
and philosophical ideas, it can be found in the ancient
art. For instance, the mysticism and the religion of ancient
Egypt – of which so much has been spoken, and so little
has been known – if there is any sign of it to be found,
it is not in a manuscript, it is in art. Besides, the ideas
of the ancient Sanskrit age are yet to be found in India
in engravings on the carved stones, rocks, and temples.
Very often travelers from the Western world go to the East
in order to see in how far the art has attained its perfection,
but very few really know that it is not only that the art
came to a certain perfection, but the art has been given
as something to communicate to those who can read.
that, the art of ancient Greece, it is the sign and proof
of their great perfection divine wisdom. Every movement
that you see in the Greek pictures, it is not only a graceful
movement, but it has a meaning, and every little statue
in its action denotes a great meaning if only a person can
read it. But from this we come to learn that in order to
make the work of art, and in order to be able to understand
the work of art, for both intuition is necessary. And it
is the very thing that today the human race seems to be
losing more than in any time in the world's history.
might ask what is the reason that man has lost that intuitive
faculty? It is because man has become so absorbed in material
gains that he has, so to speak, become intoxicated by the
earthly life, and intuition, which is his birthright and
his own property, he has lost from view. It does not mean
that it has gone out from him, it only means that it has
become buried in his own heart.
We are vehicles, or instruments that respond. If we respond
to goodness, goodness becomes our property; if to evil we
respond, then evil becomes our property; if to love we respond,
then love becomes our possession; if we respond to hatred,
hatred becomes our life. And so if we respond to the things
of the earth so much that our whole life becomes absorbed
in earthly things, then it is quite natural that we do not
respond to those riches which are within us, and yet are
far removed from them. Intuition is not something that a
person can read in books and learn, nor is intuition a thing
that one can buy and sell.
Intuition is something which
is the very self and the deepest self of man, and it can
be realized by that soberness which is desirable in life.
Absence of intuition means absence of soberness. One might
ask why is every person intoxicated, and what that soberness
is like. I would answer, it is just like a little pool of
water, when the water of that little pool is troubled, you
can not see the reflection. But when it is not troubled,
then it is quiet; then you can see, when the water is clear.
So is the heart of man. By the heart I do not mean the piece
of flesh, by heart I mean that inner being of man which
very often in the Bible is called 'spirit.'
It is the calmness
and quietness of that spirit which quickens that tendency
of inspiration. But when the mind is troubled by worries
and anxieties and responsibilities, then naturally that
intuition is lost. But man asks, often, 'How can it be possible
to leave worries and troubles out of life?' That is quite
true; but at the same time if one is thinking that one cannot
leave out the troubles and anxieties, one is going further
and further from the Truth, the Truth which is the safety
of man. Many think 'If we cannot be spiritual then we shall
be material; of course then we shall be more and more material,
because we cannot be spiritual.'
But, really speaking, the
right thing would be to strike the happy medium; if life
forces one to go into material things so much, so much the
more necessary is it to go into spirituality. It matters
very little what religion a person claims and what faith
he says he has, what way of prayers he adopts. What really
matters is if he is really religious from his heart. The
admission to that field of happiness is by tickets. For
at the door of the station they do not ask you whose son
you are, what class you belong to, what are your ancestors,
how much money you have.
What they ask is for the tickets,
and the same thing is there. In that field of happiness
one has no entrance by saying,' I belong to a very high
church,' or 'My prayers are better than others.' No, there
it is not so, it is only here we hate one another by saying,
'You are of a different religion, your belief is bad, my
belief is good.' There is no distinction there. The question
is if you are sincere, if you really are seeking after Truth.
Then they do not ask what channel you are coming from. They
open the door you are allowed in.
But now coming to the question how can that art which
is religion be attained. Even a religion is a kind of art.
Of course, its elementary aspect makes it a religion of
form. Form is the outward art, whether it is a ceremony,
a ritual, a form of service, it is a form of art, no doubt.
But as one goes further it is another art. Among the Sufis
that art is called Akhlaq Allah, which means the manner
of God. The first step in life is to know and understand
how to become a human being. As there are two words in the
English language: man and gentleman, and there is such a
vast gulf between man and a gentleman, no doubt if one bought
a nice dress and put it on, he can become a gentleman very
soon, but that is not what I mean.
A true gentleman in the
real sense of the word is what the word itself expresses.
And what makes one gentle? Man, by nature, is just like
an uncut diamond; and that diamond wants cutting in order
to reflect its light fully. A man becomes a gentleman, not
by becoming rich or in a high position. No, when the rough
edges of his character are cut, just like a diamond, then
he becomes a gentleman. And if one judged oneself, and did
not judge the others, one will find how very difficult it
is to become a gentleman. No doubt man keeps on in a kind
of intoxication, not knowing his own faults.
He is always
busy finding fault with the others, always he is complaining
that the rough edges trouble him from the others, and so
the whole life goes, the life which is the greatest opportunity
to rise and to become better. And that one who feels, after
having the rough edges of the other hurt, that 'the rough
edges on my part must also hurt the others,' when he begins
to cut those rough edges, then he begins to learn the art.
For other arts cannot be compared with the art of personality.
The character is not born with man's birth, the character
is built after coming here. But even if a person can call
himself a human being, still he has not yet known that greater
art still, which may be rightfully called a true religion.
For there is another grade to pursue, and that grade is
the personality of God. As soon as one seeks for the personality
of God, it is different from a human personality, for in
the character of man, man has to make his point of view
a human point of view, but in the point of view of God,
man has to make God's point of view. And it is such personalities
who whenever and at whatever time they came on earth have
not only taught humanity but have given an example to humanity
be their own lives. Some of them known, some of them unknown,
came and went away; but each one of them was accepted by
some and rejected by some, none of them was accepted by
the whole humanity nor rejected. But, despite of accepting
and rejecting, the Truth will prove by itself a victory.
For to nothing else victory belongs.
Victory belongs to
Truth, and that victory which comes from falsehood is a
false victory. The true victory only belongs to Truth, and
and as man more and more, will probe the depth of life and
its secret he will more and more realize it. Falsehood,
whatever apparent success it has, has it limitation, and
its end. For at every step the false person will feel falseness,
and every step a person takes to falsehood he will feel
his feet towards the Truth heavier and heavier. Those who
will walk they will feel their feet lighter at every step
they take. And it is by learning the art of life and by
practicing it that one is led in the path of truth, to arrive
at that goal which is the longing of every soul.