Published by Advaita Publications
12 January 2007
‘Anything and everything is art’- so the saying goes - but, man, take heed, for there is also the saying: ‘the world is illusory’. If anything and everything is art, then ‘literature’ too ought to be art! How does man come to terms with these sayings and how could he understand that literature too is art? If literature is art, then there can be no separation between art and literature. They just cannot be separated, as there is no separation anywhere in life, nor can there be, as life is energy, which is continuous. Art is therefore all-inclusive, and not exclusive, as it is thought to be. It only needs to be understood that literature is art and that this art, like any other art, is illusory and not real, for the world is an optical and auditory illusion!
Apart from the usual forms of art, such as painting, sculpture, dancing and music, let alone literature, one has to understand that thinking, speaking and doing is art too - in fact, very sophisticated art! Art in any form, including literature, whether taught or practised, is artificial art and not creative art. Creative art is that which happens to man spontaneously, uncontrollably and unpredictably for the first time; repetition or imitation by others constitutes artificial art. Of course, artificial art too happens spontaneously, uncontrollably and unpredictably to man, but he has yet to understand this. That man teaches, learns and practises art is illusory rather than real, for to teach, learn and practise, time, mind, individual and an act are essential pre-requisites that are absent in life. Man merely believes that he teaches, learns and practises art.
Creative art happens when man is overcome by art. Art envelops man; he or she has no remembrance of how it happened to him, for he is absent while art is present. So what could this art be, which overpowers man, expresses itself through him, leaving him utterly powerless either to stop it, alter it or guide it? This art is the expressive movement of life. Life is a singular, spontaneous, uncontrollable and unpredictable movement, which changes direction as the speed of reflected light, which is commonly known as ‘consciousness’, changes.
Life, which is energy, transforms itself from one form to another spontaneously, uncontrollably and unpredictably. This transformation process appears as various kinds of movements from rudimentary, as seen in lower forms of species, to the highly sophisticated movement of man. It has to be understood that man is a sophisticated form of all species that have preceded him. It has to be so, for energy cannot be separated from one or other. All of man’s movements are therefore a sophistication of every movement that has happened before to all species. The transformation process of energy is ‘Divine’ art!
Some of these sophisticated movements have come to be known as ‘art’, such as painting, sculpturing, dancing, singing and music. In painting, one should observe that there is no gap between the painter, his brush and the canvas on which the painting happens. One could never determine who the real painter could be. It could very well be the brush, the canvas or even man, as a single unit. All that can be said is that all these, i.e. the painter, the brush and the canvas, are moving as a single unit! This singular movement, which cannot be determined as to when it starts or ends, creates an optical illusion that man as a painter creates the painting. This is not true. The painting creates itself! The act of painting is therefore an optical illusion! Painting as an act does not exist, for there is no time, mind or individual existing in life! This singular movement is art. There is only a singular movement - and that is life. Life is art - every bit of it. The rising sun amongst the hills against the backdrop of a lake is art personified. The setting sun beyond the horizon of the sea is magical art. The shimmering rainbow embracing a waterfall is art unmatchable. The twinkling stars, the shooting star and the blazing comet across the dark sky is art of the celestial kind. The array of colourful fishes swimming under clear water is art - not to be missed viewing. The blossoming of flowers nestling in a valley in spring is a display of art. There is no lack of art in life!
Just as the creative painting is an optical illusion, so too are learning, teaching and practice an optical illusion. Both forms of art, creative and imitative, are optical illusions. What happens in both instances is that the body moves in a sophisticated manner, which appears as creative or practised: similarly with all other forms of known art. They are nothing but an optical illusion manifested by reflected light. Such is the intelligence of life to manifest art to appear convincingly real. Art, therefore, is basically movement!
If such is the case, then even walking, running, etc., have to be art. And it is indeed so, though they are so commonly perceived that they are no longer believed to be art. When man began to walk, and came to know that he could walk or did walk, it would have been art to pre-historic man. Simple acts, when they happened to man and came to be known by him for the first time, would all have been art. When such forms of art became common and familiar to all, they lost their ‘art’ status and became everyday acts. As life sophisticated itself, it brought about sophisticated movements that happened to only a few men, and these movements became ‘art’, as they did not express themselves to each and every man, as did walking, etc. If that which is praised as art happens to each and every man, then ‘art’ will not be art at all. Art would not exist! Art is merely sophisticated movement happening to a select few and imitated by many! Whether it is creative or imitated, it is nevertheless a singular, spontaneous, uncontrollable and spontaneous movement that appears as art!
What is literature? And how can it be art? Literature is nothing but written words but, like the painter, can man write or does writing happen to man? Just as with the paint, brush and the canvas, the pen, paper and man’s fingers are a single unit and credit cannot be afforded to any one of them as being responsible for writing! Writing, on the other hand, is nothing but miniature painting of forms of different shapes, arranged very close to each other that manifest an optical illusion of words! Words are absent on the paper; what is present on the paper is black ink in various patterns. Visual familiarity of patterns gives rise to words that bear illusory meaning. These in turn constitute language. The writing is in fact not an act. It is just a phase of movement occurring in the singular movement that was meant to happen to man, and this appears as writing! Since writing is also part of the singular, spontaneous, uncontrollable and unpredictable movement, it is also art! The wailing of a newborn is audible art to the new mother: it is literature to the mother. The utterance of the first word by a child is heart-rending art to the proud parents: it is literature to the parents. A natural orator is mesmerizing art to his listeners: it is literature to the listeners. The humming of a humming bird, the cooing of a peacock, the various sounds of nature are literature in the making, for these sounds will eventually transform and sophisticate to appear as literature through man! The intelligence of life is not to be taken for granted. The intelligence is itself art!
Literature, while it happens, is moving art, but as it becomes confined to the books and the shelves it becomes static art. Literature, which has become static art, can also become moving art temporarily when thinking, speaking and writing happen to exhibit literature of any type, classical, academic, religious, scriptural, spiritual and scientific. These are superficial types of literature in which man is commonly interested, because they are attractive to the ego. This kind of literature makes man think that he or she is a ‘somebody’ - a social identity. This type of identity is however artificial art, temporary and therefore illusory. A real identity is that which is eternal and does not change, but in life identities do change and man cannot think of an identity that does not change. In fact, an identity, which is known and does not change, does not exist at all. Hence, a real identity or real art should be that which could not be known. Artificial or superficial literature does not lead man to his true identity.
There is, however, a deeper literature that leads man to his true identity, which can never be known or become the known. This literature belongs to an enlightened being. This literature happens the moment man understands that all languages are merely sounds, and that these sounds project illusory words with their meaning to create an illusory art, called mental life! The moment it is understood that literature is nothing but sound, man will spontaneously, uncontrollably and unpredictably slip into creative or deep literature, which is a thoughtless state existing in the timeless ‘now’ and the nameless ‘here’. With this deep literature man has no identity. Man no longer remains a man; he becomes a mystic – the mysterious one, an enlightened being! Enlightenment is ‘real’ art!
Thinking and speaking, like writing, happen to man. He cannot bring about thinking or speaking just as he cannot bring about painting etc.; he cannot bring them about because they do not exist in life. Thinking and speaking are subtle and gross sounds respectively that happen to man, and this gives rise to an auditory illusion of words and meanings. Thoughts are in constant movement within the mind. They occur spontaneously, uncontrollably and unpredictably to man. He cannot pinpoint precisely when thinking or speaking will happen to him or what he will think or speak. This is why thinking and speaking are very sophisticated forms of art. They have been developed from rudimentary sounds emitted by vegetation and the animal kingdom.
Vegetation and the animal kingdom do not have any control over the sounds that they make, and so too man has no control over what he thinks or speaks. If he did have control then he would most certainly think and speak what he or others would like to hear. If such were the case, then there would never be a possibility of a drama taking place. Man would be bored and life would not have an artistic flavour. It would still be art but without the zest! If man were able to think then he would very well know how to stop it! He could be thoughtless eternally, and enlightenment, which is a thoughtless state, would be at man’s beckoning! This is just not possible for thinking and speaking are very sophisticated art, because this art is never completed until death! This is the reason why the bereaved miss the dead. They are unable to admire the art of thinking and speaking and doing!
Life, through the mind, manifests an intelligent drama of sorts through the art of thinking and speaking to entertain man, illusory though he may be. The world is an artistic drama and not anything substantially real. Every art is connected to each other. Walking, running, working, painting, dancing, singing, playing, natural bodily functions, procreation, religious, spiritual and scientific activity etc., are interconnected and are nothing but art! There is no separation between each of them. There is no separation, because there are no separate acts existing in life. Enjoy this art; admire this art and not just the art, which is found in galleries, exhibitions or museums. Admire the art that life exhibits every moment: the exhibition could be over any moment. This admiration of life’s art every moment will leave you eternal as the art itself. When you have become art then you have become enlightened. Enlightenment is total art when you have realized the illusory nature of the mind and the world. Therefore, the saying ‘art is anything and everything’ is true, because life is the artist which is ‘Anything and Everything!’
© Copyright V.S. Shankar 2007