Art as meditation is the primary form of prayer in the creation-centered tradition, and to practice and undergo it opens the door to the praxis of deep ecumenism.  Ritual itself is a practice of art as meditation. 

At our programs over the years we invited many artists, who themselves undergo a paradigm shift vis-a-vis art (seeing it as spiritual practice and not as product-oriented) to lead our students in art as meditation.  These art forms may include any of the following: painting, movement, dreams, gardening, improvisation, clay, writing, walking in nature, drumming, singing Hildegard of Bingen’s music, chanting, Tai Chi, Aikido, yoga, massage, journaling, poetry, listening to music, and so on. 

“Art at Sunset” by Jinali Parikh, Pixabay

No matter which of these practices a person chooses to take there is a common experience—they are all experiences of prayer, and no one way is “Roman Catholic” or “Protestant” or “Buddhist.”  Art is deeply ecumenical—that is, universal.  No one tradition can claim to owning art as process.

Art is the most appropriate response to a mystical experience (as is silence).  When art is entered into as process and not as product, art becomes a “Way” (cf Christ’s words: “I am the Way”), a path, and not—as the message we receive in a capitalist society tells us— a product or goal.

One reason why art as meditation is so useful in our time is that it opens us to the Spirit that seeks to touch us deeply.  The Spirit is to be found primarily in the depths–it is in the “innermost part of our being,” as Meister Eckhart put it. We give birth from there when we do art as meditation.

“The Time of His Life” by Michael Paredes, Unsplash

Meister Eckhart teaches: “Whatever can be truly expressed in its proper meaning must emerge from inside a person and pass through the inner form.  It cannot come from outside to inside of a person but must emerge from within.”

One price the West has paid for too much introspection is the gradual privatizing of meditation, so that for some the word meditation has come to mean exclusively an inward journey into the self.  An Augustinian introspective bias can distort an introverted meditation practice and runs the risk of becoming spiritualism.  Such intensive introspection fails the Biblical test of compassion understood as celebration and justice making.  Art as meditation is the way of the prophets because it leads to justice and compassion. 

We shall develop the truth of this statement in upcoming Daily Meditations.

Adapted from: Matthew Fox, Wrestling With The Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life, pp. 220f, 223.
Matthew Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, p. 399.
Banner Image: “Guitarist” by Splitshire on Pixabay

Faith in Practice

Take Meister Eckhart’s words above and let them wash over you.  Be with them.  What is he saying to you, to us?

Why not try your hand today at doing something artistic in whatever form you choose.  Do this remembering that you are a co-creator with the Divine One.

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.

Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.

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3 thoughts on “What Is Art As Meditation?”

  1. Avatar

    Because of the intense concentration involved in practicing arts, kundalini can rise and mystical knowledge gained. I know that this is what happened to Moses, Paul and all the others. This happens when our minds have no distractions than what we are concentrating on or about or when we are pondering subjects that are beyond logical reasoning.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Gary,
      Thank you for sharing this intriguing possibility with us. If the Kundalini experience happens when our minds have no distractions than what we are concentrating on, there may very well be a connection between it and the mystical connection that comes when pursuing art as meditation. IF not that, then at the least both processes draw from the same spiritual source.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the DM Team

  2. Avatar

    Thank you Matt for your meditations and this sweet reminder of right action and thinking about art in general and particularly in my life. Your school changed my life and that changed has touched many others for the good. I started making art again when I went back to school with you. Through the darkest times it has helped heal me , inform me and created a deeper connection to the wisest all knowing parts of me that are attached to the great energy of the creator. I have told my clients that art is medicine. We all are artist if we let the energy flow . Now again , from your wisdom and inspiration I can say art is not only medicine it is meditation for me the best and most interesting form of meditation . You are such an amazing spirit and I feel blessed to have had the privilege of witnessing the art of your thinking, feeling, and living. Love love love Dr Suzanne Lopez

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