The Depth of Art and Spirituality

Artistic expression is akin to spiritual practice, a way to free imagination and uncover skills to enhance your life.

Defining Spirituality can be difficult. But there are qualities and characteristic of it. Here are three: 

Spirituality involves a search for meaning in life, which Cultivates a set of values that we can use to orientate ourselves. This gives us direction and a basis for hope when life challenges us.   

Spirituality helps us to form a relationship with the mystery. That ‘thing’ that is beyond our capacity to understand, is the depth of the world that sits below appearances.

Spirituality is about transformation; personal growth through a commitment to it. The intent to shape our lives around the mystery and the meanings we discover.

Creativity and the arts are very integral to spirituality. The creative process is a powerful force in our lives. It is our capacity to transcend, and move beyond the conventional. To bring something new into being. Creativity can be seen as a biological need. It is a primary expression of the psyche, that latent content deep inside of us that wants to rise up and become a concept.

Carl Jung believed that we keep images of un-lived lives within us; a storehouse of symbolic imagery ready to be drawn upon to create new senses of meaning. 

In the sense, creativity instigates learning from the inside. A ‘second knowing’, from the fountainhead of creative intelligence, welling up from within you.  There are more than a few intelligences. Creativity uncovers various kinds besides the common ones like linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. There are also spatial, kinesthetic, and musical intelligence, interpersonal and intrapersonal as well. 

We have so many potential faculties of knowing, and we often limit ourselves by accessing only a few. So its important to use spirituality to help unlock the abundance of meaning available to us. 

We live in a time where we have moved beyond static television programs, and instead are interacting with media, creative sources, like video games, and specialized youtube channels and social media. These unlock our interest and the associated possibilities inside of us. Although, we must be careful as well as media shouldn’t capture too much of our attention, paralyzing us, taking us away from the freetime and space we need to contemplate things for ourselves. A time to reach deep inside our imagination.

Imagination is fundamental to human activity. It needs to be exercised, nutured. It is an intuitive and integrative process central in our becoming. Through it we remember the past, shape our future, shape our world. A world that is familiar, or one that is new and innovative. 

Imagination is about searching for new ways of being and relating. It is at the heart of many pursuits: art, dreaming, relationships, playful leisure time, ideas in the workplace, solutions, for us, for our communities.

Western culture devalues the process of art by emphasizing consumerism, valuing products that sell, turning art into a commodity.  It is better to promote the process of art-making itself as a way of personal discovery, a therapy of sorts, where the process is the point, the liberating force. In this way, the creative process is available to everyone, a journey of discovery for all. 

Creativity can be seen as a metaphor for the journey into spirituality, which evokes a sense of movement and progression. Never arriving, but continually unfolding new discoveries. 

Also, important is integration. Enveloping our selves into our craft and its meanings, blending our intellect with our emotion, desires and will. Engaging in the arts as a spiritual practice allows us to function below the surface of the intellect. Deep within the complexities and ambiguities of living. Creativity has us practice intuition rather than rely on logic and reason, and the constant striving for correctness. 

And so when the goal is process rather than product, the arts allow us to run free, to experiment, to explore. Ultimately creating a meditative space where one is held in the present moment.

The arts enliven our existential capacity, to transcend literal reality, to present ourselves with alternative ways of being, to gleam insights only available through non-cognitive means.  

Art is freedom. 

To reclaim our voice and truth, to give meaningful expression to our commitments, values, and ideas. The process of art can stir our emotions; joy and sadness, jubilation and defeat, which are all equal sources for spiritual growth. It activates the neglected dimensions of ourselves, so we can reclaim the inner intelligences and wisdom that we all carry inside of us.