“Artists, aware of a more vivid and more beautiful world than other men, are always driven by their love and enthusiasm to try and express, bring into direct manifestation, those deeper significances of form, sound, rhythm, which they have been able to apprehend; and, doing this, they taste deeper and deeper truths, make even closer unions with the Real. … Each one, thus bringing new aspects of beauty, new ways of seeing and hearing within the reach of the race, does something to amend the sorry universe of common sense, the more hideous universe of greed, and redeem his fellows from their old, slack servitude to a lower range of significances. … For them contemplation and action are not opposites, but two interdependent forms of a life that is one.” ~Evelyn Underhill
A true artist does see the world in a different, and usually more beautiful, way than the
rest of us. A good example is painter Georgia O’Keefe. According to a story I read once, a friend suggested to her, after she had become a fairly well known artist with enough money to live where she wanted to, that she move out of the desert to a “more beautiful place”. O’Keefe was shocked because to her the desert was a beautiful place.
Today. Of course, there are artists who don’t fit the description in Underhill’s book. They are only interested in making money, doing art that sells, instead of putting their visions into art. But there are still plenty of real artists around.
The artists will tell you that there are many things that inspire them, and that is true in a sense. The true artist, however, is a spiritual person to some degree, even if they are not consciously aware of it. Seeing things more as they are rather than as they appear to be is both the realm of the artist and the realm of the spiritual person. The artist may not see as deeply behind the illusion as the trained spiritual student, but enough to inspire their artworks.
Contemplation and Action
The artist is an ideal combination of contemplation and action. Seeing beyond the veil isn’t good enough. We must not only see what is hidden, but share that vision with others so they can learn to see it too. This is true of the artist, but it is even more true of the spiritual person. A properly taught spiritual person sees beyond illusion better than anyone else, and has an obligation to do something about it, to take action, to share that vision with others. It is not enough to sit in contemplation of the spiritual sun or anything else. We must also take action based on our knowledge and talents.