"Creative artists ... are mankind's wakeners to recollection: summoners of our outward mind to conscious contact with ourselves, not as participants in this or that morsel of history, but as spirit, in the consciousness of being. Their task, therefore, is to communicate directly from one inward world to another, in such a way that an actual shock of experience will have been rendered: not a mere statement for the information or persuasion of a brain, but an effective communication across the void of space and time from one centre of consciousness to another." ..........Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God, Volume IV: Creative Mythology
In the spectrum of human consciousness there are levels which remain mostly in accessible to our experience. This is due to two primary reasons. The first is the lack of knowledge as we brush aside any prompting that arises in our experiences being trivial or of no consequence. The other reason is our rootedness to our waking consciousness as the fundamental plenum of reality and use it as the concrete and indispensible tool to our relation to the world around us.
In the fifth century BC, the Chinese philosopher, Confucius rightly defined four of his six essential learning as ritual, calligraphy, arithmetic and music. These four areas of learning are to do with our relationships to more fundamental realities than what can be perceived by the physical sense. They transcend into the emotional and spiritual realm which are evoked through the higher levels of consciousness.
It was during the rule of Pericles (495 – 429 B.C.) that the Parthenon, dedicated to Athena, was erected at the highest point above the Acropolis. The uniqueness of the temple was the concept of imperceptible curvature of the columns. This art or science is called ‘entasis’. This word comes from the Greek verb ‘enteinein’ which means ‘two opposing forces holding an object in their power’. Socrates and his father were involved in this project. Why I mention this in the context of this article is that human understanding of reality and deeper nature was very prevalent in ancient civilizations.
Joseph Campbell brings out lucidly the role of creative artistry as the process in which there is a bridge established between the waking consciousness and the inner layers of the psyche through a rude awakening to shake off the complacency of our awareness. A look at the gory masks of tribal dancers or the human form in Picasso’s paintings or the meaningless wiggles and patterns in a mandala intoxicates the human mind to transcend to unseen dimensions.
As we are looking at contemporary meanings, I would like to quote some of the thought leaders as to why mandala is used as contemporary creative art towards evoking higher level of consciousness.
According to the psychologist David Fontana, manadal’s symbolic nature can help one "to access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises." The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as "a representation of the unconscious self," and believed his paintings of mandalas enabled him to identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality.
Mandalas are also created using sand and grain. The process itself, which could takes days to create, provides a keen sense of purpose thus a heightened awakening.
Hence the next time we see some contemporary art form which defies the intellect to provide any meaning within the realm of our perception, pause and reflect what deeper meaning there could be hidden within.
Love to you all.