Thursday, February 7, 2008

Art Preserves Spiritual Possibilities...

"Art is a conservative power, the strongest of all; it preserves spiritual possibilities that without it--perhaps--would die out." Thomas Mann, Reflections of an Unpolitical Man

"spiritual being"rebecca e. parsons 2007 graphite on enhanced

Einstein and Spirituality

Spirituality is a concept that is difficult to pin down, so to avoid being ambiguous let’s look to science for some direction. The famous physicist Albert Einstein was very clear that he didn’t believe in a personal God or any accepted theology. He denied any belief in the immortality of the individual, and considered ethics to be an exclusively human concern without any superhuman authority behind it. However, he did have a spiritual side, which he often expressed. To him it was characterised thus:
To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.
The letter Einstein wrote late in his life to the Queen of Belgium, who was suffering a great grief, is full of this sense of spirituality.
And yet, as always the spring-time sun brings forth new life, and we may rejoice because of this new life and contribute to its unfolding, and Mozart remains as beautiful and tender as he always was and always will be. There is after all something eternal that lies beyond the hand of fate and all human delusions, and such eternals lie closer to an older person than to a younger one oscillating between fear and hope. For us there remains the privilege of experiencing beauty and truth in their purest forms.
Einstein’s spiritual side often expressed itself in his love of music. After hearing the 13-year-old Yehudi Menuhin with the Berlin Philharmonic he was heard to exclaim ‘Now I know that there is a God in heaven.’ He once said, ‘I often think about music, I live my daydreams in music, I see my life in the form of music’. He particularly worshiped WA Mozart and JS Bach: ‘I have this to say about Bach’s works: listen, play, love, revere - and keep your trap shut.’

The Unifying Principle of Spirituality

A final quote from Einstein might help to clarify this mysterious unifying principle. In 1930 Einstein published an essay on Religion and Science in the New York Times magazine, in which he described his own inclination towards a ‘cosmic’ religious sense, and discerned kindred glimpses of this feeling in such diverse figures as the prophets and psalmists of the Hebrew Bible, St Francis of Assisi and the Buddha. In this he said the following:
It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who does not experience it. The individual feels the vanity of human desires and aims, and the nobility and marvellous order which are revealed in nature and in the world of thought. Individual existence strikes him as a sort of prison, and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling. In my view it is the most important function of art and science, to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.
Art for me, and for those receptive to it, preserves the spiritual possibilities...keeps them alive for the artist as well as for those who view or hear the artwork...what are your spiritual possibilities?

Blessings Today...Rebecca

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