Arts and Crafts

by | Dec 10, 2014 | Art, Articles, Teachings | 2 comments

A mystic is an artist. Their palette is made out of words, gestures, sounds. The reason art is the medium of their expression is because none of their creations are neither useful nor hold any form of purpose. The creation of a mystic is a form of illustration that would receive its meaning by the beholder and not the art itself. It does not hold a specific, localized meaning the artist wished to convey at the time of its inception. When creating, the mystic isn’t concerned in being neither understood nor received. Like a painter, the mystic “paints” as an expression of their inner world. They have to do so. Otherwise something just doesn’t feel right. For the mystic, communicating their inner world is a must. In some way, it’s an obsession. A river, a force of nature that has to find its way back into the ocean.

A craftsman crafts purpose. Craftsmen are skilled, they hold a profession. Usually trained over a lengthy period of time. As a society, we need them. They are extremely valuable to us. We need their skill in order to craft the tools and instruments we need to survive and thrive in relation to the world around us. Yes, take a look around you; everything you see that holds a purpose has been crafted by a craftsman. At the moment of its inception, any craft first had its purpose. Crafting is dependent on time. A need of the past translated into a solution in the future. It is an answer to something that was missing.

Art is a completely different phenomenon. It is non temporal. It is not rooted in the past nor aimed toward a distant tomorrow. Art, in its purest form is purposeless and serves no end. When asked, why have they created their creations, most artists would shrug their shoulders or simply say – I had to. Creating for most artists is an urge, a result of an impulse they are following and not so much a defined medium of communication. Artists don’t always try to convey or communicate anything specific other than their own need to create or even “birth” their piece.

In the Old Testament, it is said – “Ein Tzayar Ke Eloheynu” meaning, there is no painter as God. The implication being that divinity is a process of an artistic creation. If you follow this thread, this is a deeply profound statement. The wording used in the book of Genesis “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”; the word for created, in Hebrew, is ‘Yatzar’. It has the same root as the root for the word paint. Again, implying that the creation of this world is an artistic expression – purposeless and filled with meaning. A meaning which is given by us, its beholders and willing participants. A living and breathing part of this artistic creation.

If we relate to the world around us as an artistic creation and not so much a scientific process of evolution nor an archaic religious expression of an angry (or benevolent) God, our relationship to everything surrounding us might look completely different. If you feel into this, you’ll realize that if the world around you is purposeless, you too, are purposeless. You are not a crafted being that can serve but one purpose. For centuries we have been searching for the meaning of life. For a predefined purpose for which we were brought to be. But if there is no purpose, what is left is a relaxed ground for creativity and individual expression. A collaborative ground of artists and less of a battleground between distinct instrumental and crafted purposes. Viewing our surrounding as an artistic platform brings about a deep sense of freedom and ease. It is an invitation to explore each other less as valued competition but more of a complimentary voice or movements to add to our own artistic creation.

A craftsman would look at you with an assessing eye. What are you good for? What can you be used for or with. An artist will wonder what type of color would you mix best with? What type of sound do you make? How can you be artistically brought in in such a way that will produce the most harmony, the most beauty.

Our world is built by craftsmen and painted by artists. We need one another; we depend on this mutual exchange of invaluable gifts. The canvas and the paint, the formed and the formless. The mystic in a way is useless, there’s nothing their art can offer to a useful, utilitarian reality. However, the mystic brings about meaning to the craftsman’s world. The mystic is able to transform purpose into meaning, and meaning into gratitude.

When assessing yourself, and your relationship with the world try to look through the eyes of a mystic, find the mystery and live your life as a masterpiece. You, my friend, are nothing but a profound and mystical artistic miracle.


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    “When creating, the mystic [or artist] isn’t concerned in being neither understood nor received.”

    Part of me agrees with this statement. As an artist, I, for example, dress the same way whether I’m alone in the house or out at a party. Even without people to witness it, I feel the need for my external appearance to reflect my inner world, for my personality to be expressed, even if that expression goes unseen by anyone else. Or when I dance, it comes from this energy inside of me that needs to be translated into physical form, regardless of who witnesses it. I feel like a balloon overfilled with helium, and the only way to relieve the pressure is through the stylistic movement of my body.

    But another part of me disagrees, feeling that artistic practice in its highest form depends upon being understood and received by others. I can see that, on another level, my artistic energy emanates from a deep desire to be seen. Beauty cannot exist without an observer, and if I am the only witness to the beauty inside of me, then it does not feel as complete or real as when another person sees it and can share in the perception of this beauty.

    The perception needs to come full circle. If only I see the beauty inside of me, then it is a strait line. But if another sees it and shares in the experience, it becomes a triangle. This triangulation of perception is the source of all things we regard as “real”. If I am staring into the sky with a group of friends and I see a UFO, but no one else does, then they will say I am imagining or hallucinating, and I will probably believe them. But if the others see it as well, then we will regard the UFO as “real”. Only once the line becomes a triangle will the perception be said to really matter.

    This is why an artist needs technique. Everyone’s inner world is beautiful, but not everyone is an artist. The artists are those who use technique to bring the perception of that shrouded world to others. Imagine a packed concert hall awaiting the performances of two musicians, both of whom have incredible beauty contained within their hearts and minds. The first guitarist walks on stage and, having no previous experience singing or playing guitar, simply bangs on the strings, presses his fingers randomly upon the frets, and yells, “I am here, look at me, hear me roar!” After being booed off stage, the second guitarist comes on to take his place and begins to play a song with masterful technique, poetic lyrics, and a voice seasoned from years of practice.
    This second performer is an artist, but the first is just a fool with artistic intentions.

    This is why you, Kai, are such an incredible artist through your speaking and writing. You perceive structure within the richness of your inner world and use technique to bring it into form so that it can seen by others as well. Compare your writings with those of an imaginary person who, without spiritual or compositional training, attempts to write an article communicating his experiences on a large dose of plant medicine. Although the inner world he glimpsed during his journey was surely beautiful, it will probably make no sense to anyone else and he will just come off as crazy.

    Besides practicing art as a spontaneous expression of my energy, like when I get dressed knowing no one else will see me or when I dance at home alone, another part of me is motivated to practice my art in order to, well…practice. I practice to develop technique so that, when others witness it, they can actually see the inner world that I’m trying to point to. Because if they don’t see it, then, like the UFO, the beauty inside of me will not be as real.

    Perhaps art, in its highest form, does have a purpose: to unify through the shared perception of beauty. This is why art is such a spiritual practice—it is a means for the two to become one. A masterful artist uses technique in this separated, physical world in order to magically point to the unity which underlies it. He uses the physical to illuminate the nonphysical, and to bring separated observers into a state of oneness through a moment of shared perception of something beautiful.

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    Painting, music, poetry, architecture, writing, are wonderful mediums for me to express the mystic. Some, like the architecture has a strong element of craftsmanship because it is an expression which needs to be useful, practical, and communicate to those who inhabit the space. But interwoven in the architecture sometimes there is sublime “life”which is the art, sometimes intentional sometimes miraculous, and when that apparently purposeless element appears, the inhabitants are enriched (as am I as the architect) in a very profound way. Its as if a grace gift is given at a subliminal level, yet surfaces in all the sensations, and it feels as if the architecture has imparted a joy of being alive. Mysteriously it is as if a man-made space impacts like a God-made forest, or the sea, a coral reef, etc. It appears to touch the Divine. It is inspired – ruach, it has prana, chi. The ” art” is the ego-free vehicle which seems to give it all its real purpose – which is the kind of spontaneous delight which makes you grateful, makes you want to worship, to be in awe. When the purpose is to impress or educate with “art”, somehow the awe evaporates and it simply becomes surface decoration on the architecture – facade.


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