Archive for Sadness

Art and Facing Darkness

Last night A.R. Rahman won an Oscar for Best Original Song and this is what he said:

All my life I have had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I’m here.

This is a powerful statement on many levels. Today I’ll focus on just one: every time an artist sits down to work they choose love. Even if they are expressing pain or anger or darkness they are facilitating the presence of the Divine Artist on Earth. They tap into the fecund well of Divine Creativity and allow it to flow into the world.

Matthew Fox, founder of creation spirituality, describes the same thing slightly differently:

The artist names holy “isness” in all its forms—joyful and beautiful, sad and tragic. We need the artist to name our common experience of “isness” —to tell us when “isness” has just passed by and to assist us in expressing our gratitude.

The artist opens the door to the present moment which is the only place to truly experience of the Divine. It is silly to try and pretend that darkness does not exist in the world, that we could exist without sadness, anger or pain. Artists help us to name and experience these emotions, this is what Fox means when he says “isness”- to locate these feelings in the universal experience. Their part in the never-ending upward spiral toward the Universal Maker which snakes from light to dark and back again.

Art helps us to stop resisting our emotions and the present moment. When standing in front of a work of art, we breath and absorb the moment. We experience our feelings. We project our personal issues and see them reflected back safely. This process allows us to move forward out of darkness instead of being stuck there. By experiencing the darkness in our lives we are released from it, by resisting it we are trapped. A work of art can help us face our darkness and this is an act of love. Art acts a loving midwife to the soul urging us onward in our spiritual development.

A.R. Rahman:

Illness & the Divine

You are in love with me,
I shall make you perplexed.

Do not build much, for I intend to have you in ruins.

If you build two hundred houses in a manner that the bees do;
I shall make you as homeless as a fly.

If you are the mount Qaf in stability.
I shall make you whirl like a millstone.
-Rumi

I spend a lot of time with kids. It’s wonderful and difficult at the same time. Children are brutally honest. As I’ve mentioned before, I have scleroderma. This condition has caused my hands & face to contract. It has also caused my jaw to come out of alignment so that my teeth do not meet up properly. In short, I look strange. This doesn’t usually bother me because I don’t think about it. That fact that my hands don’t open doesn’t really affect my life much except for a few things I’ve had to give up: piano, knitting & a few miscellaneous activities. Sometimes when I see a picture of myself from long ago I’m sad,
Anyway my point is, I am who am I regardless of my what I look like. There are some people who are perfectly gorgeous in everyway and are miserable. But that’s not me, I’m deformed but happy. But when I get around kids and they ask me why I look funny it does upset me because it’s a shock. I don’t remember I’m strange because I never think about it. I think this is God’s way of tempering me like a sword, throwing me into the fire to make me stronger.

To truly reflect the Divine in this world, we must learn to be present in every moment. We must be totally in the physical world without controlling it. It’s amazing how much I want to control the world. I want my face back, I want my hands. But I know that is just me controlling the flow of Divinity in this word. I won’t be a dam, I wish to be an open well, a channel between the ocean & the land. Clearing this channel takes letting go of everything I think I am.

Thank you hands that contract so I may expand
Thank you jaw that hangs open so I must speak
Thank you feet that ache so I must stay still
Thank you heart that weathers the storm so I may be washed clean
Thank You again and again
Thank You
-Sybil Archibald

More on Sadness: Tagore Poem

This Tagore poem links sadness with creation:

It is the pang of separation that spreads throughout the world

and gives birth to shapes innumerable in the infinite sky.

It is this sorrow of separation that gazes in silence all night

from star to star and becomes lyric among rustling leaves in

rainy darkness of July.

It is this overspreading pain that deepens into loves and

desires, into sufferings and joys in human homes; and this it

is that ever melts and flows in songs through my poet’s heart.

-Gitanjali #84, Rabindranath Tagore

Sadness: Is It Necessary To The Spiritual Path?

On The Wild Things of God (I love that name!) today there is a about sadness. He describes the feeling of needing to fight sadness, to snap out of it. I know I’ve felt like that, but, it is interesting to ponder whether sadness is a necessary part of the spiritual path.

On the mundane level, sadness is definitely something to be avoided, but it seems very likely that the spiritual journey requires us to go deeper into sadness, to embrace it and not to resist. Every experience we are given has meaning. It is up to us to find it. By feeling every second of sadness with intensity, we cleanse it.

The judgment that sadness is wrong just because it doesn’t feel good is prevalent in our society. We are taught that we must understand the causes of sadness, and rid ourselves of it like a disease. Understanding sadness actually gets in the way of releasing it. It is more important to feel it than to understand it. Reason is irrelevant. We must trust that if God brings us sadness it is for a Divine purpose. Maybe we are processing something in our own past which is blocking our closeness to God or maybe we are bearing the burdens of a cultural sadness. By delving into our own feelings, we are helping humanity to discharge it. We are all intimately connected.

Our bodies are like river beds. We are the channel through which the Divine flows into the material world. It is our duty not to block the river. Denying our sadness, running from it, leaves the sadness to settle and damn river. So, in the conclusion (from someone who know nothing at all!), as uncomfortable as it is, sadness is necessary to the spiritual path.