Yoga is nothing but practical psychology...Sri Aurobindo Login     Register    Search       

Recent papers in category Art

Rod Hemsell on Rig Veda Part 2 (video) And Darshan Reading (Nov 24) - Satyvan & Savitri by Rod Hemsell (audio)

2013 workshops at Sri Aurobindo Learning Center, Crestone, Colorado

One day Seminar on Art and Music 27.04.2013 (audio)

Seminar: Musical interpretation and Vedic knowledge (audio)

Contextualizing Savitri

more posts in Art


The Mother on Art

Author: The Mother

Last Updated: September 27, 2008

The Mother on Art

You have said: "If you surrender [to the Divine] you have to give up effort, but that does not mean you have to abandon also all willed action". But if one wants to do something, it means personal effort, doesn't it? What then is the will?

There is a difference between the will and this feeling of tension, effort, of counting only on oneself, having recourse to oneself alone which personal effort means; this kind of tension, of something very acute and at times very painful; you count only on yourself and you have the feeling that if you do not make an effort at every minute, all will be lost. This is personal effort.
But the will is something altogether different. It is the capacity to concentrate on everything one does, to do it as best as one can and not stop doing it until one receives a very precise intimation that it is finished. It is difficult to explain to you. But suppose, for example, that through a combination of circumstances a work comes into your hands. Take an artist who has in one way or another received an inspiration and decided to paint a picture. He knows very well that if he has no inspiration and is not sustained by forces other than his own, he will do nothing much. It will look more like a daub than a painting. He knows this. But it has been settled, the painting is to be done; there may be many reasons for it, but the painting is to be done. Then if he had the passive attitude, well, he would get out his palette, his colours, his brushes, his canvas and then sit down in front of them and say to the Divine: "Now you are going to paint". But the Divine does not do things that way. The painter himself must take up everything and arrange everything, concentrate on his subject, find the forms and the colours that will express it and put his whole will for a more and more perfect execution. His will must be there all the time. But he will keep the sense that he must be open to the inspiration, he will not forget that in spite of all his knowledge of technique, in spite of the care he takes to arrange, organise and prepare his colours and the forms of his design, in spite of all that, if he has no inspiration, it will be one picture among a million others and it will not be very interesting. He does not forget. He attempts, he tries to see, to feel what he wants his painting to express and in what way it should be expressed. He has his colours, he has his brushes, he has a model, he has made his sketch which he will enlarge and make into a picture, he calls his inspiration. There are even some who manage to have a clear, precise vision of what is to be done. But then, day after day, hour after hour, they have this will to work, to study, to do with care all that must be done until they reproduce as perfectly as they can the first inspiration...That person has worked for the Divine, in communion with Him, but not in a passive way, not with a passive surrender; it is with an active surrender, a dynamic will. The result generally is something very good. Well, the example of the painter is interesting, because a painter who is truly an artist is able to see what he is going to do, he is able to connect himself to the Divine Power that is beyond expression and inspires all expression. For the poet, the writer, it is the same thing and for all people who do something, it is the same.

Is it possible for a Yogi to become an artist or can an artist be a Yogi? What is the relation of Art to Yoga?

The two are not as antagonistic as you seem to think. There is nothing to prevent a Yogi from being an artist and an artist from being a Yogi.

But when you are in Yoga, there is a profound change in the value of things, of Art as of everything else; you begin to look at Art from a very different standpoint. It is no longer the one supreme all-engrossing thing for you, no longer an end in itself. Art is a means, not an end; it is a means of expression. And the artist then ceases too to believe that the whole world turns round what he is doing or that his work is the most important thing that has ever been done. His personality counts no longer; he is an agent, a channel, his art a means of expressing his relations with the Divine. He uses it for that purpose as he might have used any other means that were part of the powers of his nature.