A&O – Spiritual Dimension


Spiritual Dimension


The artist sacrifices and What is the reward?  The consciousness of inspiration only!  I think art gives a new faith.  I think –all jesting aside– that could I create something I felt to be sublime, I should feel also that the Unknowable had selected me for a mouthpiece, for a medium of utterance, in the holy cycling of its eternal purpose; and I should know the pride of the prophet that had seen God face to face.Lafcadio Hearn[i]


Art holds out the promise of inner wholeness,” wrote Alain de Botton … in the excellent Art as Therapy.  But also, from the perspective of A&O, the communication between two organisms, often evoking the sense of Resonance, evidence of often otherwise undetectable shared elements of being.

“But perhaps the greatest meditation on how art serves the soul came more than a century earlier, in 1910, when legendary Russian painter and art theorist Wassily Kandinsky (December 16, 1866–December 13, 1944) published Concerning the Spiritual in Art (free download | public library) — an exploration of the deepest and most authentic motives for making art, the “internal necessity” that impels artists to create as a spiritual impulse and audiences to admire art as a spiritual hunger.” (Maria Popova, 2014, in The Marginalian)


CREATIVITY, particularly when deeply informed by SPONTANEOUS ideas was once  (and still often) attributed to a something outside
one’s self, being channeled.   Easy to imagine if one suddenly spotted, amidst the welter of possible stimuli and signs, a redintegrative focus: an idea that pulls together other ideas, forgotten or unaware.   In the right cultural milieu this might be a deity—A TRANSCENDENT CREATOR … which  alone can make something from nothing:   Creativity was attributed to INSPIRATION (taking the Spirit in one’s self), and creative people felt they were the channels chosen to express a tiny fragment of the creative force in the universe.  This is exiting: these creators were ENTHUSED (from Ancient Greek ἔνθεος ‎(éntheos, possessed by a god). Even today enthused creators seem “possessed” by some outside force they do not understand. (external locus of control – environmental circumstances or an intervening transcendent force, a god) (from A&O site on Consciousness-Creativity-Spontaneity)


Spirituality can be viewed as our deep utilization of cognitive resources we are usually unaware of.   We can be forgiven for believing that … “Art is an act of the soul, not the intellect….We are in the realm of the sacred. We are involved with forces and energies larger than our own. We are engaged in a sacred transaction of which we know only a little: the shadow, not the shape. As artists, we belong to an ancient and holy tribe. We are the carriers of the truth that spirit moves through us all. When we deal with one another, we are dealing not merely with our own human personalities but also with the unseen but ever-present throng of the collective, ideas, visions, stories, poems, songs, sculptures, art-as-facts that crowd the temple of consciousness waiting their turn to be born.” –Julia Cameron

The spirit is so-called because it is incorporeal … like breath, which in its ancient meaning referred to”life-force” to originate (and be withdrawn) by transcendent forces–its centrality to life yet seeming lack of  substance imbued it with power and awe.  It is a “first responder” to emotional experience, to changes in stress levels (increased oxygen is a demand of increased metabolism and the ability to cope with real or perceived challenges to meeting one’s biological needs)

return to Art & Organism page on Extraordinary experiences of creative artists

Spirituality and art are closely related by virtue of their deep phenomenological basis.  While physiological correlates can be detected and often mapped, the paths between the environment and one’s mind or from one’s mind back and forth to the environment are only partly understood.

IF “all truths dwell in all things,” as Whitman puts it, 

“does spirituality inhere in all creation?”

might the inherent spirituality of all truths profit from the perspective of levels of organization?:  

 “Each of us lives in the midst of concentric circles of holiness, moving between the poles of action and stillness, dueality and oneness”       

(Eliezer Shore (2021) Moving Toward the Center. Parabola Summer 2021  46(2):29-33)


(“The Talmud speaks of ten degrees of holiness” [from the outermost land of Israel to the inner Holy of Holies…] These are also degrees of unity (at the center) or separation as we move outward)     

And let us not neglect the inherent power of the circle itself: “God, said  Nicholas of Cusa, is an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” Pascal, speaking of nature, echoed this in his Pensees


now Visit Science and Spirituality

Science and Spirituality: an overview and syllabus for ORICL class



[i] (From The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn by Elisabeth Bisland  NY, Houghton Mifflen 1906. p.238)