Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The hidden part

In life, there is always a part that is hidden which we call the inner; and there is always a part which can be seen, which we call the outer.

The meanings of these two parts within every situation, and in art, can be quite different; yet it's presumed by humans that the outer is always where the meaning lies. So an artist, or a poet, or a writer can outwardly create a work, achieve something, and think that they understand what they have done; yet in almost every case, what is done actually emanates from an inner and hidden place that is speaking in ways that are not obvious to the outer, which only knows how to take things literally. This is exactly why Christ spoke in parables.

In this way, great works of art or literature are created which appear to say one thing; but in fact in their inner or hidden meaning say something entirely different. The artists, writers, and even the critics may presume that they know what works say, but this is only true if they are inwardly formed in such a way as to understand what the inner, or secret, meaning of the work is when it emerges.

 In this way, many hidden things are said; and they are not at all obvious to those who see them. The inner, after all, is part of a sacred manifestation that is always trying to speak to the outer, but is rarely listened to. The greatest works of art and literature carry enough of this inner content to speak to people wordlessly, subliminally, underneath their obvious outward contexts; and an artist or writer can only be said to understand what he or she is doing in so far as they have a connection with, a contact with, the inner content of both their own being and the meanings that they express.

When we discuss such artists, immediately, figures such as Rainier Maria Rilke come to mind; perhaps da Vinci, or Goethe. But in any event, we always recognize that they are exceptional; and this is because there is an unusual alignment between their inner being and the inward content of their art.

Generally speaking, the science of esotericism presumes — mistakenly – that some "special" people know what this inner meaning is, and that others don't. That is, that there is a cognoscenti whose understanding is superior and lies above that of others. Yet there is no such group or clan; because the expression of the inner and its meaning is a highly personal one, a sacred instance between the higher principle, God, and the individual who perceives it. Although the effort to connect with such an understanding can be undertaken in groups – in fact, it must be formed in community — it always lies within the responsible functions of an individual, not a group, to form a right relationship with the inner that can perceive such content.

Because of the unique nature of the inner, when it expresses itself in these hidden and unknown ways, it undergoes an endless series of transformations as it encounters the Being who sees it. It enters the world specifically to engage in a very intimate process of evolution which involves encounters and transformations with many Beings; this endless unfolding of its truths, which end up being expressed outwardly — in no matter how inept a manner — give birth to endless new forms. This constitutes the great and eternal unfolding of Ibn Arabi's Names of God.

In this sense, no one knows what the content of the piece of art, literature, music, or dance is — it undergoes constant transformation, because, as an expression of the divine, it is capable of internal and eternal transformation even as it manifests. This transformation is not achieved through the sheer presence of gross material substances (again, see the Swedenborg quote) but through relationship with the Being who interacts with it.

An artist may create works of extraordinary significance, and have no idea whatsoever in their own Being of what they have achieved; for such greater purposes are often obscured by the outer, and not readily available to the superficial, ordinary parts of the mind; the effects of such works are impossible to foresee. A good example of this is Van Gogh, who died depressed and convinced that his works had, in the end, not found acceptance or been understood by others. He had no way of knowing that his work would become a transformational body with the power to change how we see the world; his outer being was not aligned with the inner content of his work. And so it often goes; we work for unseen masters, to unseen purposes, yet we think we are in charge.

In this way, the hidden inner purpose of any life or work is not obvious to us as we encounter it outwardly. Behind every manifestation, good or bad, there lies an intention that is invisible to us as we speak and breathe. 

In life, we become responsible to an effort to discover where the center of gravity of that question lies.


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