How Art Evolves Consciousness

Image of a mural showing a group of stormtroopers with V (from V for Vendetta) standing among themDo you ever take the time to dive into the vast trove of artistic beauty which fills our world? Do you have a particular artist who’s work really speaks to you? Who is that artist? What do they stand for? Have you ever been deeply moved by a work of art?

Are you aware of how art evolves consciousness?

For most of my adult life I was ignorant of the astonishing value art creates in our lives. I listened to music, watched movies and shows, and went to museums on occasion, but I wasn’t consciously aware of the alchemy which occurred within me as I engaged with art.

This article is going to be a brief exploration into that alchemy. My aim is to call your attention to the power art has to evolve our perception of ourselves and our role in the universe. I will rely on a wonderful TED talk given by visionary artist Alex Grey in 2013.

So read on if this is something for you!

Cosmic Creativity With Alex Gray

“Art is an echo of the creative force that birthed the galaxies. Creativity is the way that the cosmos evolves and communicates with itself.”

This is a quote by Alex Grey, from a TED talk he gave in Maui in 2013. I invite you to watch it, it’s 21 minutes long and so worth it:

Did you watch it? I hope so.

I first watched it in 2019 while I was living in the Czech Republic. At that time I had already begun the journey of discovering my spirituality through regular meditation. I had become profoundly interested in the science which suggests that our universe is a three dimensional projection of a higher dimensional reality (read “The Holographic Universe” by Michael Talbot).

Science is now telling us what ancient spiritual traditions have maintained for thousands of years.

We are not isolated beings drifting at random in an indifferent universe. We are the universe itself, having a human experience. Not separate from it but one with it. Connected in the deepest meaning of the word. Animated by a cosmic intelligence which directs us to grow and learn through mechanisms both elegant and challenging.

This, I believe, is what Alex Grey has sought to express in his work.

The presentation fascinated me. The universe is the creation of a singular, cosmic consciousness which we are all part of. Each of us is a cell in the body of God.

If you are reading this article now, it’s because you are either in the process of awakening to our unified existence or you are being invited to begin it. I consider it an honor to be sharing this with you.

And by sharing in my creativity, you are actively evolving your consciousness.

Art And It’s Evolutionary Purpose

Does art have a purpose? I would say it does, it’s self-expression. All art is self-expression. And it’s only by expressing ourselves that we can engage in dialogue with others. So all art establishes a dialogue.

A dialogue with whom? With the universe! I’ll explain.

As a young adult, I didn’t give much importance to art. I wasn’t exposed to much of it as a child and had few opportunities to explore my creative side in school. Growing up, my mother always encouraged me to focus on learning things which would earn me money, like science and mathematics. Art wasn’t something which could earn me money, so I learned to ignore it.

I grew up mostly devoid of any interest in art and unaware of the deep impact it can have in our lives.

Unfortunately, this appears to be the norm in our world. We are encouraged to focus on activities which create material value, our individual creative energies are sidelined in the wake of “money making” activities such as mathematics, physics and chemistry.

This is a tragedy. Because it’s through our creativity that the universe evolves and communicates with itself.

Let’s contemplate this for a moment.

Art Pulls Us Into A Dialogue With The Universe

Given that we are all one with everything, universally connected, what is happening when we appreciate the creations of another person? For example, what is going on within us when we gaze into a painting like the Creation of Adam by Michaelangelo (circa 1511)?

Image showing The Creation of Adam by Michaelangelo

The surface level answer is that we’re just looking at a painting.

But there is a deeper answer, one which reflects our cosmic unity.

When we engage with another person’s creative work, we experience the universe through the filter of the artist’s perspective. The artist is not us; he/she is part of the universe other than us.

The artist is the universe.

By engaging with art we engage in a dialogue with the cosmos, learning what it’s like to be in this universe as a person who is not us.

When we appreciate art we evolve our consciousness.

This evolution is not something that happens at the level of conscious awareness. It occurs at a deeper level. Some of it is subconscious. But I believe the dialogue emanates from the depths of our spirit.

And as our consciousness evolves through the contemplation of art, all of our following creations will be imbued with our updated consciousness.

In this way, art has been shepherding humanity’s consciousness along through the eons, gradually directing it into communion with the divine. Art serves the evolution of universal consciousness, the return to the conscious singularity which birthed the cosmos.

And it all happens when we take the time to relax and appreciate art.

Aesthetic Chills As An Indicator Of Openness

Once we become open to appreciating art as an agent of conscious evolution its value is radically and irrevocably upgraded. Art becomes a window into our spiritual world, an opportunity for us to engage with the deepest within.

Nowadays I love going to museums. I take leisurely strolls through them, stopping at every piece which captures my attention for several minutes. Since I’m aware of the profound evolutive effect art has on my consciousness, I know that engaging deeply with the work will take my awareness to unexplored realms.

I can easily spend a whole day in a museum. As I appreciate the pieces which capture me, I quiet my mind (I learned to do this through meditation). I step back, step close, run my eyes across every element in the work. I look deeply. As I do this I sometimes feel powerful emotions well up within me. They’re usually positive emotions like joy, excitement and even love. I sometimes feel tingles go up and down my spine. These tingles are known as “aesthetic chills.”

This article by Robert McCrae, a personality psychologist at the National Institute of Aging, concludes that aesthetic chills are the best indicators of openness to experience. And the more open to experience a person, the more curious, innovative and imaginative they are. And these traits are hallmarks of the greatest creators, those who build the companies, write the songs and books that change the world.

Isn’t that fascinating?

The more you allow art to move you, the more open you are to life and the more successful you can be. Life literally invites us to fully engage with it and allow it to change us.

The Mind And Heart-Expanding Properties Of Museums

I once cried when looking at a painting.

It happened in Albertina, a museum in Vienna, Austria. I was visiting with Petra and her parents. There was a fantastic exhibition of Claude Monet, the French impressionist painter.

I was looking at one of Monet’s last paintings, a swirling mishmash of brush strokes depicting the rose way in Giverny, France (The Path Under The Rose Trees, circa 1922). At the time he created that painting, Monet was going blind, after a lifetime of masterful creative output. And even then, in the twilight of his life, he expressed his unique perspective with the same creative elegance that characterized his entire body of work. I could feel Monet’s love for life through his painting.

Image shows The Path Under The Rose Trees by Claude Monet, circa 1922

Overwhelmed by the realization as I gazed into the painting, I broke into tears.

Why did that happen to me? It was the spirit of Monet, reaching into mine through his work, sharing with me the beauty he saw, even as his eyesight failed him in the autumn of his years. The realization that there is beauty everywhere in the world, if we but give ourselves the opportunity to perceive it.

I was sharing a dialogue with the universe, from the depth of my spirit.

Can you appreciate the power that art has over our consciousness?

Take Time To Pay Close Attention

I would like to ask you a question now.

Would I have experienced the profound emotions I did while looking at Monet’s painting had I rushed through the museum?

No, I wouldn’t have. Had I sped through the museum, I would have never allowed the time necessary for the art to reach into me and stir me. My engagement with the art would have been superficial, and that is exactly where the experience would have remained, at the surface.

Superficiality is currently the norm in our civilization. We focus on the surface, and so we stay stranded there. We stay at the surface of everything; people, places and knowledge. How can it be otherwise when we don’t give ourselves the time necessary to go deep? When we’re rushing from one thing to the next, using the present moment as a stepping stone to the future, we fail to engage with the now, which is the only thing that matters.

Modern life encourages this superficiality. Before we know it, we can become caught up in the circular rush of our civilization, unaware that we’re going in circles while pretending to accomplish great things.

We might not be going anywhere, but at least we get there as fast as possible.

Life happens now. The granular beauty of life, like what I learned from Monet, can only enter us through the present moment.

Attention is the price we pay to enter the numinosity of life.

Life Teaches Us, If We Allow It To

School is utterly unnecessary to become educated. I went through 20+ years of school, I know this from experience.

What is necessary for our education is that we pay attention. Paying attention to what goes on around and within us. Here is where the education of life takes place.

It’s by paying deep, purposeful attention, that we hear what the universe is trying to tell us.

Pay attention.

Pay attention to the beings in your life; the animals, the plants and the people. It’s so rare to encounter people who are fully alive and aware today, who pay close attention to the people in their life.

Nothing opens up other people as much as pure, non-judgmental attention. And just as it goes with people, it goes with life.

The closer attention we pay to life, the more it opens up to us. We gain access to a realm which few inhabit, the plain of luminescent experience which inspires the greatest creators.

In Conclusion, Engage With The Art Around You!

There is so much beauty in the world. Engaging with it is a conscious choice each of us has to make. The more we choose to engage with the beauty which surrounds us the more we make the choice into a habit. This is what it means to inhabit a different plain of experience.

My intention was for this article to move you, to inspire you to reframe your perspective when it comes to art. We can choose the art we engage with!

This is one of the secrets of having original creative ideas. Engage with uncommon art to have uncommon ideas. Television shows and videogames are art, too. But the rarer and more masterful the art we engage with, the rarer and more masterful our thoughts become.

So what art have you recently engaged with?

To our wealth and success.

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