This video is connected to the lesson of Spiritual Study “Spirituality as a microuniverse”. As usual, the video adds some more reflections to deepen what is already said in the written lesson.
One thing that we can consider is that the artist, the moment they show us their artwork, they are teaching us to listen. An artist is like a teacher of listening, that is like saying “watching things”, “looking at things”, with more human eyes, that is not the way like a camera looks at the object, but putting in the action of seeing our personality, our inner world. It’s like the artist opens a window inside ourselves, because this way the artwork becomes like a mirror, not only of some reality, like a picture of a tree, for example, can be considered like a mirror of the tree, but it’s like a mirror of us, because it shows also our emotions, our feelings, our culture about our life, about the meeting of us with that tree, or the object of art.
This way the artist creates or makes us discover another universe, that is the universe of our inner life. This means that painting a tree or a landscape, for example, is just an instrument to show what is inside us, what is in this universe that we can explore, the universe, we can say, of us, or the universe of the event of a meeting of us with the world, that is the object of the painting.
In order to achieve this purpose, the artist needs an action of listening. He or they, he or she, whoever they are, the artist, cannot just think “Okay, this is a tree, I will paint a tree”. He needs to listen both to the tree and to themselves, to their life, and to the whole event that is happening. We can think that an artwork starts with the action of listening to the whole event that is happening. This way the artist, as we said, becomes a teacher of listening, because the artist first did this, the artist first listened to themselves, to the world, to the event. This can be considered an essential role of spirituality, that is, spirituality is a help, cultivation of, we can say, the art of listening.
Now, talking, about listening, we can think of a specific experience that can help us, what happens about this question, this topic of listening. If we think of music, it happened, sometimes, that we enjoyed, we liked the music played at high volume. Of course, it is pleasant, especially because it helps us to perceive more details of what we are listening to. It depends also on the quality of music, but I would like, for now, to consider this only aspect, that is, when we raise the volume to listen, of listening to music. There is a risk that we can become fanatics of the high volume, of the high noise, of making things tremble. What is the problem with this? It’s like... When do we raise our voice, when we are talking to somebody? It’s like either if the other person is deaf, or we want to attack that person. This means that raising the volume encourages a feeling, maybe without our awareness, of a context of attack, a context of conflict, fight, or we can also think that, implicitly, raising the volume is encouraging a kind of a self-perception as people who are deaf or at least lowly sensitive, with low sensitivity.
This means that high volume does not encourage at all a refinement of our own sensitivity, of our ability to detect, to enjoy, to taste the tiny details that are in music or in anything.
If we extend this, what I said in this mechanism of raising the volume, to everything, we can think that the experience of art - we said it teaches us the art of listening - it teaches us also an education of sensitivity. Sensitivity not just of our senses, like eyes, or ears, but we can say also sensitivity of our mind, of our heart, what we are able to see inside us. We can say, in this context - we started from just listening, then music expanding the horizon in sensitivity of mind, or over the heart - we can think about another thing, another topic that is connected to this. We, of course, it’s something that is very spread in the world: the desire of living a long life, or even living forever. About this, we can consider that there is, of course, some relationship between quality and quantity, that is: what’s the point of living a long quantity of life, so, many years of living, if the quality of this life is not enjoyed, is lived in a shallow way, without exploring the universe, the details, the shades, the minimum shades of everything that is in the universe and the connections. We can say that, rather than trying to expand life horizontally, that is, in the duration, how long I will live, we can expand it vertically, that is, even if my life is quite short, I try to live it as in-depth as possible, as deeply as possible, so that, we know, even a short life, if it’s experienced with deepness or with great experiences, can be much more worth living than a long life that is lived in superficiality, in shallowness, in lack of contents, of important experiences.
Now we can make a question, that is: there are people who are expert about art, like the art critics and there are the artists and there is also the spiritual person. What’s the difference? We can say that the artist lives the experience of art, they make the work of art. The art critic is an expert of the styles of art, so they are able to make a lot of connections, comparisons, but what about the spiritual person in relationship with the event of art? What is particular in the spiritual person is that we, as spiritual persons, make a work of connecting the experience of art with the rest of our life. What’s the difference between the spiritual person and the artist? The artist is taken by art, the spiritual person makes connections with, let’s say,“what is the meaning of my life, what I’m living for, how do I want to relate with myself, the rest of the world, the other people, how can I live a full life as much as possible, all dimensions all my potentiality, the best that I can?”, so that we can say that the experience of the spiritual person is intentionally widened, that is, what takes my interest is not just the work of art, the experience of art, but an intentional connection with the rest of life, the whole of life, of my life, or the spiritual life. The same we can say about the difference between the spiritual person and the art critic. The art critic, we say, is expert about the styles, art in history, explaining a lot of details and aspects of art. Me, as a spiritual person, what I like to do is, as we said, connecting these things with the inner life, the “in general”, what is happening inside me. We can say “This is the same about the artist!”. Yes, but the artist is more devoted specifically to the art, while the spiritual person is more devoted towards life, human life and all the rest that can be connected with this.
In order to go forward in this direction, we can consider that something that gets elaborated, deepened, built, educated, becomes, in this context, our ability to describe our experience. Some people, when want to describe something, what they are able to say is just “Oh, it was marvelous, it was beautiful, it was incredible”. But, at the end, this doesn’t say much, doesn’t help other people to share the experience, to understand what happened, to try to enter inside that world that is being described. So, this is what art critics actually are expert in doing: the art critic is a person who is very able in describing by words the details, what is in the work of art, although this can become a limit, that is, we know that words are never able to really transmit what is inside the soul. It’s good to learn how to express things with the art of expressing them by words, without forgetting that words are also limited or they can also completely betray what we have inside.
In this context, the language that we use when we want to describe our experience is not necessarily a very precise language. Sometimes the best language, the best instrument, the best way of using language to describe a spiritual experience, is, for example, poetry. We could say, for example, that an art critic, in order to describe a work of art, instead of saying “Oh, this is the style, this is the life of the artist, this is what we can explore in this painting”, they can decide to use a poetical language. Of course, an art critic is not necessarily able to make poetry, but just to understand that language has a lot of power, if you try to use it not in a standardized way, but considering the language itself is a kind of art.
I have experienced this while studying the Bible, that is, I noticed that some teachers, in the way they explain you scientifically and critically the text of the Bible, nonetheless the way how they organize the topic, the words, the phrases, they transmit to you not only notions, knowledge, but like a real experience of what they are explaining. This way you either know or suspect that that person, that teacher, is not just a teacher, is somebody who has first enjoyed, listened, experienced, what they are explaining, in this specific case the Bible. This is an art of language that is, of course, different from preaching. The person who preaches wants to convince you that you should convert, you should believe, but this has nothing to do with this art. Art doesn’t want to convince you, or force you, or guide you to believe. Rather, it tries to continue listening while talking and tries to explore the work of art or the text, or, I said, the Bible. We could say that a secret of the whole experience of art, since the beginning until the person who enjoys the work of art, is listening, that is, the work of art starts with listening, the artist is listening even while painting, or while composing that music, or writing those words, and until the end, and the person who is enjoying that work of art is listening as well. So, as I said, at the beginning art becomes teaching and learning the art of listening and enjoying the pleasure of listening, that does not mean just being passive, but being aware of what is happening in the event of listening. All of this can become not only language of art, language of words, but becomes even, more in general, art of living, a language of life, that is, my art becomes my behavior, my way of organizing my life, my way of making my choices in the great events of the existence, so it becomes a language of life. In this case we are in real spirituality, that is, starting from art, language and at the end is art of living with as much as possible awareness of the greatness of what is happening inside us and not necessarily awareness, because, similarly to what happens with words, awareness can limit or betray what is happening inside, so, awareness and non-awareness.
At the end just a little note. With all these great things that spirituality is able to do, nonetheless it’s not salvation of life. Problems are still there, negativity and pessimism deserve as well their degree of listening, there are still the unanswered questions, that in the essence are: why there is suffering, why there is evil, why there is not understanding in life. Spirituality is not the answer to these things, but, we can say, a better way of experiencing all of this experiences, including the negative things.
So, see you in next meditations, next reflections, hoping that this helps some kind of listening spirituality, relationship with art and discovering the microuniverse that is inside us, inside the whole experience of meeting the world and everything. See you.