“The material mind sees as the principle of any art only a means to bring money, and not in such art a means for giving variety to life, dispelling weariness, resting that portion of the mind devoted to other business improving health and increasing vigor f mind and body. It holds to the idea of being ‘too old to learn.’ …
“The spiritual or more enlightened mind says: ‘if you would help to drive away sickness, turn your thoughts on health, strength and vigor, … on woodland scenes and growing healthy trees; on birds full of life and motion; for in so doing you turn on yourself a real current of this healthy life-giving thought. …
“But when the spiritual mind has once commenced to awaken, nothing can stop its further waking, though the material [mind] may try for a time to retard it.” ~Prentice Mulford
There are many things called art these days. Some of it deserves to be called art, some of it doesn’t. Some of it is social commentary, some of it is just whatever the artist feels like vomiting up at the time. In nearly all cases, its sole reason to exist is to make money for the artist.
Classic art had a greater purpose, a true purpose. It sought to reveal truth. It tried to inspire us. The artist wanted to teach us something important. Or is may simply server to relax us, to reduce stress. A worthy goal in this age, yet little in modern art does that accept some nature photography.
It has become popular in recent years to write novels based on the idea that secret messages are hidden in artworks by some of the great masters. This seems to be especially true of religious and spiritual paintings and sculptures. While these books are fiction, they have a valid point. Not that the painting reveal that Jesus was actually married, or that some of the apostles were women, or anything else of a material nature. What is hidden in some of the works of the great masters is spiritual truths, which the artist himself may not be aware of.
Many of the great artists are very spiritual people. Even those who are only a little spiritual or intuitive may be inspired by a spirit muse. These muses send mental images to the artists that inspire entire works, or certain details found in them. Some of them may be simple geometric shapes in certain locations, others may be dealing with color combinations. Still others may use complex symbolic images, as in props seen near the main subject. These hidden images are there to appeal to and awaken the soul, not the mind. They send their message deep into us without our being aware of it. Yet the effect such art has on us is that it may get a few of us to start thinking more about the need to develop our spiritual self, not just the physical. That is where true art becomes useful and valuable.
Spiritual Mind and True Art
It seems like the second paragraph in the quote is about a totally different subject, but it really isn’t. The first part of the quote is about how the physical brain-mind thinks of art, and other things. He second is about how the spiritual mind thinks, but without specifically mentioning art. Yet art is still a part of it. Especially the true art discussed above.
Mulford tells us that the spiritual mind wants us to turn our thoughts to “health, strength and vigor.” He doesn’t get into how that is to be done. By mentioning woodland scenes, sea shores, tress, and so on, he is indirectly answering that question. One of the best things we can do to improve our strength and health is to get into nature more. Visit the seashore, climb mountains, hike through the woods. Those things benefit the body, mind, and spirit all at once. But for many of us, that is rarely, if ever, possible. That is where true art, spiritual art, can help.
Using True Art
Experts on stress reduction say that stress can be significantly reduced by having a favorite scene of nature to look at. It can be mountains, a quiet lake, a colorful sunrise, or a field of flowers. Whatever appeals to you the most. Hang a poster of it on your office wall, or wherever you usually are when you tend to get stressed out. Sit down, take a deep breath, and gaze at the picture. Even better, imagine that you are in that place and completely relaxed. If the picture is of a place you have actually been to, it will be easier to imagine you are there.
Beyond nature photography though, there is a lot of classical art of all sorts that can also help reduce stress and awaken our spiritual self. Classical music is a good example. Even paintings and sculptures can do it, if they are the right ones with those hidden images found in true art. Different works will appeal to different people, so you have to rely on whatever amount of intuition you have awakened to help guide you in making good selections.
And since we certainly can’t get the real Michelangelo’s David, we will have to settle for photographs of it or small copies. Be aware, however, that small copies may be missing some of those important spiritual details found in true art.