On Huffingtonpost.com Mariano Lozano notes that throughout the ages, thinkers and philosophers have described human beings as political animals, toolmaking animals, playing animals, and calculative animals. Religion scholar Mircea Eliade took another route and posited that the archaic human was "homo religiosus" (the religious animal) because humans manipulate symbols so the sacred order of reality breaks through into ordinary reality.
Art turns out to be a partner in this quest. Writes Lozano: "A work of art can attest to the eternal in man, it has the ability to pull us out of the ordinary realm of existence and provide a sense of eternal atemporality. The work of art becomes itself a symbol of the cosmos which binds together the individual with the infinite." Art and religion are both attempts "to give voice to the emotional movements of the human soul."
Art constantly brings us new images of the world and fresh ways of being in daily life. Thus, it provides ample resources for the difficult inner work that is part and parcel of spirituality.
While preparing materials for our e-course "Practicing Spirituality with Anthony de Mello" we came across this teaching story in his book Taking Flight:
"When a friend visited the Spanish painter El Greco at his home on a lovely spring afternoon, he found him sitting in his room, the curtains tightly drawn. 'Come out into the sunshine,' said a friend. 'Not now,' El Greco replied. 'It would disturb the light that is shining within me.' "
The next time you visit an art gallery or page through pictures of some of your favorite paintings or sculptures, spend some time probing the ways in which this creative medium advances your inner spiritual work of being, seeing, and incarnating the Divine presence.