Art as Meditation—the “Way of the Prophets”

These Daily Meditations are happening because science and the United Nations are telling us that we have twelve years left to change our ways as a species, so that climate change can be interfered with, slowed down.  After these twelve years, we are being told, it will be too late.

What can we do as humans to reverse this looming disaster – already being felt in increased tornados, flooding, droughts, wild fires, species going extinct, seas rising, hottest years ever on record, etc?  We humans can wake up, take in the bad news and give birth to better news if we learn to face the truth around us and the truth within us. 

Meditation is one way to encounter truth, to let go of the false self and of false messages coming our way, to be, as Howard Thurman put it, “stripped to the literal substance of ourselves before God.”

Untitled, by Ruel Calitis

The Via Negativa of our times, that is the dark night of our souls and our species that we find ourselves in, is urging such nakedness before what Eckhart calls the “naked God.”

In their important book, On the Psychology of Meditation, psychologists Claudio Naranjo and Robert Ornstein distinguish between “introvert meditation” and “extrovert meditation.”  I now call extrovert meditation art as meditation and over forty-five years of teaching and training in creation spirituality we have employed it as a primary meditation practice with stunning results both with adults and with youth (especially inner city youth).

Naranjo and Ornstein call art as meditation “the way of the prophets.” Isn’t this something very important?  Aren’t we desperate today for all humans to tap into their calling as prophets, as spiritual warriors?  To stand up and be counted and to link hands and interfere?  (Rabbi Heschel teaches that the primary work of the prophet is to “interfere.”)

“Avaree Dancing in the Rain” by David Hofmann

Art as meditation is about birthing and doing and reaching deep within ourselves where the true self lives.  As Meister Eckhart put it, “the truth does not come from outside in but from inside out and passes through an inner form.”  Art as meditation trains and disciplines us in seeing what is and in what M. C. Richards calls the “moral imagination.”  She says when love seems distant “we may behave imaginatively: envisioning and eventually creating what is not yet present.”  We can imagine beyond the status quo and beyond injustice. 

We will explore many more dimensions to Art as Meditation in subsequent entries in these Daily Meditations.

See Matthew Fox, “Deep Ecumenism, Ecojustice, and Art As Meditation,” in Matthew Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets, 215-242.
See also Matthew Fox, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human
Banner Image: “Person Molding Vase” by Swapnll Dwivedi

Queries for Contemplation

Have there been times when meditating on painting, a poem, a piece of music have brought you to a deep sense of communing with truth or with beauty? 

Be with those memories, let them wash over you, let them speak to you.  What are they saying?

Have there been times when you have put into dance or song or image or journaling or poetry your deepest truth experiences? 

Recall such a practice.  Or do another.  Be with what you birth: Let it speak to you.  Be silent with it and listen deeply.

Recommended Reading

In one of his foundational works, Fox engages in substantive discussions with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets on today’s social and spiritual issues on such challenging topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interspirituality, and more.

After 29 successful years of offering an alternative educational model to adults, Matthew Fox here lays out his basic educational philosophy and presents a revolution in education in the process.  “A.W.E.” stands for Ancestral Wisdom Education: balancing the three R’s by honoring the teachings of the Ancestors of all species, and by teaching values through what Fox calls “the 10 C’s.”

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2 thoughts on “Art as Meditation—the “Way of the Prophets””

  1. Gail Ransom

    Demian, Thank you for joining us so joyously. We are glad to have you along the journey. If you have just started, please check out Matthew’s earlier posts. I’m sure you will shout “Yes!” many more times!
    Gail Sofia Ransom
    For the DM Team

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