Given my preoccupation with art and the subliminal, there appeared an intriguing piece on exactly that topic on the Bahá’í Teachings website this week. Below is a short extract: for the full post see link.
For material civilization is like unto a beautiful body, and spiritual civilization is like unto the spirit of life. If that wondrous spirit of life enters this beautiful body, the body will become a channel for the distribution and development of the perfections of humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 11.
While preparing the current issue of the new Baha’i arts journal e*lix*ir (www.elixir-journal.org) for publication, I found myself reflecting on a talk given by Abdu’l-Baha on 14 April 1912 at the Church of the Ascension in Greenwich Village, New York. In the talk, he describes material civilization as a “beautiful body” waiting to be infused with “the spirit of life.”
As I pondered the metaphor, it struck me that art is born at this very point of intersection between the material and spiritual worlds. Artistic expression takes a wide variety of physical forms, but it is always the inner world of imagination, the world of the spirit, that infuses these forms with life.
In another of his talks, Abdu’l-Baha speaks of “outer sight” and “inner vision.” In creating work that embodies both beauty and truth, we, as artists, must employ not only our physical sight but other, more intuitive means of perception.
Through the experience of creating art, the artist becomes acquainted with that invisible plane of existence that is just as real and necessary to our survival as the earth on which we plant our feet. At times of great happiness, art offers us a cup into which we can pour our joy; and in times of sorrow, it offers us a lamp to light our way through the darkness. I am not talking here about salvation, redemption, or good versus evil. We do not inhabit a moral universe when we create art, but rather a spiritual realm that, like a mirror, reflects who we are, what we have become. We perfect our art by perfecting ourselves.