July 8      

Today's quotation:

When we create or appreciate art, we set free the spirit trapped within.  That is why art arouses such joy.  Art-- whether skillfully executed or not-- is the emotion, the pleasure of expressing life as it is.  Those who see art are moved by its passion and strength, its intensity and beauty.  That is why it is impossible to separate life from art.  Political and economic developments may seem to dominate the news, but culture and education are the forces that actually shape an age, since they transform the human heart.

Daisaku Ikeda

Today's Meditation:

I love art.  It doesn't all speak to me or move me, but the art that does so is a very important part of my life.  Seeing or hearing great works of art is a rejuvenating force, something that simply makes me feel better than I felt before experiencing it.  It opens my eyes to new possibilities and helps me to see things I already know in different ways.

Unfortunately, many people use art to make themselves feel superior to others-- they try to tell others what they should like and why, and they put on airs of superiority if others don't have the same tastes that they have.  This is ludicrous.  Art appeals to each person in different ways, and no two people have exactly the same taste.  When we look at art, we need to feel with our hearts-- do we like it, or not?  If not, we can just move on without criticizing it, for someone else will like it.  If so, we can stop and enjoy it, perhaps even buy some for ourselves so that it will continue to inspire us.

I've been to many museums, and I don't understand why many of the works that I've seen are actually on display there.  But that's not for me to decide, I suppose.  It's important to keep in mind, though, that just because a work is famous, that doesn't mean that you have to like it.  The fact that an artist is famous doesn't mean that you have to like his or her works.  Like what you like, and it doesn't matter a bit if others agree with you.  Let the art that moves you make you feel better about life, and the art will become an important part of who you are.

I believe that if art weren't necessary to us, then we wouldn't have so many people who are inspired to be artists.  And we all are artists ourselves, whether we're famous or not-- and it's important to find the art that you're good at and practice it regularly, so as not to let it go to waste, no matter how humble or insignificant it may seem to be.  Life is sometimes very difficult, and art can provide us with an interior sanctuary, if we allow it to do so, that can provide us with moments of peace and awe and hope whenever we need it.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many people believe that in order to be worthwhile, a piece of art "should" be a certain something?

What kind of art moves you to feel things that are very positive and very uplifting?

Why do so many of us consider our own art to be "inferior," or "lacking"?

For further thought:

It can happen anywhere, anytime.  You do not have to be in some setting hallowed by greatness, or in the presence of an artist honored around the world.  Art can work its magic any time you are in the presence of a work created by someone who has gone inside the act of creation to become what they are creating.  When this takes place time stands still and if our hearts are open to the experience, our spirits soar and our imaginations fly unfettered.
You need these moments if you are ever to have a life that is more than the sum of the daily moments of humdrum affairs.

Kent Nerburn

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