Hazrat Inayat : The Divinity of Art pt I

In the first instalment of this series, Hazrat Inayat Khan directs us to the infinite beauty expressed by the Creator in the art of nature.

People belonging to different faiths very often make the mistake of considering art as something outside of religion. The fact is that the whole creation is the art of the Creator, and one sees the perfection of His art in divine man. This shows that the source of the whole creation has the spirit of art at the back of it. In all ages man has developed his artistic faculty, and he has tried to progress in art, but in the end, where does he arrive? He remains far from touching either the beauty of nature or the art of creation. Man’s art always fails to equal the art of God. 

This shows that the source of every soul is the spirit of art, and art is spirit, that everything which has come out from that spirit has manifested in the form of art. The more man would look at nature – at the heavens, the beauty of the stars and planets, of the clouds, and the sun – its rising and setting and when the sun is at its zenith, the waxing and waning of the moon, the different shades of color which we can see in the sky – the more would man always marvel at the art at work behind it all. 

When one is alone with nature, near the sea, on the river bank, among the mountains, in the forest, in the wilderness, a feeling comes over one which is never felt among a crowd, not even if one were in the crowd for years. In one moment a feeling becomes born, as soon as one is face to face with the true art of God. It then seems as if the soul had seen something which it has always admired and worshipped. The soul now begins to recognize One Whom she has always silently worshipped, and now the presence of that mighty Creator, that Artist, is realized through seeing His art. Many experience this, but few will express it. None can come back from such an experience without a deep impression, without something having been awakened to consciousness through having seen the divine art. 

This shows that this creation, this manifestation which is before us, has not been made mechanically, has not been created blindly or unconsciously, but, as a great poet of Persia, Sadi, says, “The more one looks at nature, the more one begins to feel that there is a perfection of wisdom, a perfect skill, behind it, which has made it, and it will take numberless years for mankind to imitate that art. In fact mankind will never be able to attain it perfectly.”

Whoever studies the kingdom of flowers, of vegetables, of minerals, the birds, the insects, the germs, and the worms, the animals and their forms and colors, and the beauty which each form suggests, will surely recognize, as did the prophets of old, that the world is created by the Spirit, that divine Spirit Who has created it with eyes wide open; and showing perfect wisdom behind it, and perfect skill in it, and a sense of beauty so perfect that man must always be incapable of achieving it. But now the question comes, “What is man?” Man is the miniature of God, and man has inherited as his divine inheritance the tendency to art.

Therefore any man with intelligence and with tender feeling – which goes to make a person a normal man – must admit the beauty of art. He is born with that tendency. A child is born with the love of art, as is proved by the infant being attracted to toys and beautiful colors. Lines attract him. And the first thing which he begins to like or desire is color and movement. This is the time of his life during which he is impressed by artistic things. When a person loses his sense of art, it is just as when the heart has become blind. It cannot see the art anymore because of the clouds of all manner of ugliness and undesirableness, and all that one does not like to look upon. All such things and impressions cover his heart and his soul, and make him, so to speak, blind to beauty, blind to art. But this is not the normal condition. The normal state of a sound mind in a sound body with tender feeling is love of beauty, is to admire art. 

To be continued…

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