Art and Spiritual Practice: Overview

Great Gallery, Utah 1988

Through art, we make a vow to grow..

What can be gained through the practice of art and engagement with creativity? Many benefits are well documented in the realms of innovation, personal development, and creative problem solving. Entertainment and popular culture also evolve quickly through the flames of the creative impulse fueled by a democratic society that highly values individuality and personal expression.

Can the arts assist us in living more authentic lives, Can they help us traverse the many challenges, joys, obstacles and realizations of the spiritual path? Can they serve our inner evolution and the necessary evolution of our culture? I believe so, and I also strongly suspect that a deeper understanding of the creative process is necessary for our spiritual survival in this era, which the Dalai Lama has characterized as “this age of degeneration.”

Art and Spiritual Practice: A Pathway Towards Consciousness details—in both practical and theoretical terms—the means by which an individual can use the pursuit of art as a genuine spiritual practice. It can function as a staircase to the Way, a pathway towards consciousness, when it is aligned with the means and the methods of genuine teachings. The book is designed to highlight the use of art for a higher purpose — in the service of our spiritual quest.

Employing the practice of art as a spiritual discipline can assist individuals in many ways:

• The gradual unfoldment of our wholeness
• The deepening of attention and presence
• Expanded awareness and heightened perception
• The discovery of our latent individuality
• The cultivation of the still clarity of the mind and transformation of our emotional nature
• The fostering of compassion
• An opening towards wisdom, intuition, and inner guidance
• A growing awareness of the radiance and deep contradictions of life
• The gradual awakening of consciousness.

Creativity enlightens the proper attitude between our actions and our work. We express our initiative and effort, then stand back and allow the process to unfold, aligning ourselves with the flow of life itself. All activities, when given our full attention, are analogous to the organic processes of growth and development. Through art, we learn about the laws of life and the possibilities inherent in being human.

The creative process unfolds in every moment—in nature, with the earth itself, with humanity as a whole, and in the cosmos—on a scale and dimension vastly larger than our personal expression. Yet we are not separate from these energies. Through creativity, we become participants in a greater whole—we are a part of it, and it is a part of us.

Finally, creative expression leads us back to the hidden, more essential parts of our nature, our innate vision, our true voice. We know it when it begins to emerge, yet could not predict its sound or coloration without the assistance of a physical medium that reflects our myriad energies. It helps us discover who we are and brings us closer to ourselves. Through art, we make a vow to grow.