Art Is Love

by Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Page 7 of 8

I would say that love must be the mother of the arts, not architecture, not structure, not function. True art always involves the observer in the participatory gesture of being, or what we call love.

If art frustrates the participatory gesture, or even avoids that entirely, it degrades the viewer. It calls for non-participation.

Much of modern art frustrates all possible participation, often even intentionally. Or itís reduced to a functional performance, inventiveness relative to structure somehow. This is not sufficient for true art.

True art heals. True art restores equanimity. Art must regenerate the sense of well-being. Thatís its true purpose. When art is really useful, itís devoted to that purpose, not limited to a specific system. But whichever system is used, it must serve this ultimate process of healing, well-being, higher sympathy, and spiritual awakening.

In the twentieth century, thereís a lot of experimentation going on with artistic media—along the lines of science, actually—devoted to the mere plastic manipulation of media, just as science tends to devote individuals to the plastic manipulation of themselves as elemental beings. It doesn’t allow those higher aspects of existence which are acknowledged in the sacred culture.

Where the sacred culture is lost, and the materialistic culture replaces it, then even the arts—which ultimately, or traditionally, had a sacred purpose—get reduced to the same vision. This materialistic vision has possessed the arts. Art has been reduced to plastic experimentation and the introduction of the orientation of arbitrariness. What comes out of that is dissonance, or the loss of equanimity. If you can see this, then it purifies you, perhaps, awakens you to be devoted to great purpose.

That sacred purpose and orientation of mankind has gradually been lost during the last several centuries, as we have entered the age of technology and materialistic scientism. So even the arts exhibit this loss of the sacred. First, you lose religion, and then the arts become degraded. We moved from the classic era into the romantic era into the plastic era, and weíre in this plastic era now. All the fields of human endeavor are basically devoted at the present time to the mood of scientific materialism, and the apparent creativity of the sheerly plastic arts of human existence.

Truly, the artist is a sacred performer. The true artist must be this. He or she must do that magic act that causes others to participate in manifest reality in the sacred sense, or the sense of love, in the sense of self-transcendence, of ecstasy.

When the culture and politics of human beings are harmonious, when they involve sacred association, then the true artist appears. And he or she must go through a trial, an ordeal of learning and transcending self, locating the mysterious creative process that transcends his or her own egoity.

When the artist has done this, then his or her performance, or whatever he or she makes, becomes valuable to others. The artist is not whatís valuable, although he or she may be honored. It’s his or her work thatís valuable. Often, true artists didn’t even leave signatures, or identify themselves along with what they created.

True art is a sacred performance, an act of love. And sacred performance can only occur in a sacred setting, a sacred culture, a sacred society. Ultimately, the artist must associate people with the sacred, must invoke in them that capacity to participate in reality thatís about self-transcendence, love, Divine Communion.

This loss of the ability to use art, true art, is one of the regrettable aspects of modern civilization. It’s part of the whole development of materialistic thinking.

Even in a society thatís relatively secularized, the beautiful, at least, must be fundamental to art. And a society thatís complete in the cultural sense adds to the beautiful the sacred dimension, the spiritual dimension.

Where the sacred is absent, then the best art can do is meditate on the beautiful and bring people to feel that. But there is nothing beautiful without love.

So much of modern art is just design. Again, the reference to architecture is significant. Design is certainly an aspect of art, whatever art form is involved, but itís not the end phenomenon. It’s not the essential principle. Itís only part of the craft of art.