Art and Literature in the Service of Spiritual Development

While they are not a substitute for spiritual sadhana, art, music and literature nevertheless have a role to play, both as a means to access and express the inner aspiration and as a way to bring to the external being some of the force of the spiritual development taking place internally. Those who have developed a connection to their inner mind and emotional being have already begun the process of discovery of a deeper self and a deeper meaning to life than those who remain fixed on the surface in the external being.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “To be a literary man is not a spiritual aim, but to use literature as a means of spiritual expression is another matter. Even to make expression a vehicle of a superior power helps to open the consciousness. The harmonising rests on that principle.”

“The use of your writing is to keep you in touch with the inner source of inspiration and intuition so as to wear thin the crude external crust in the consciousness and encourage the growth of the inner being.”

“Literature and art are or can be a first introduction to the inner being — the inner mind, vital; for it is from there that they come. And if one writes poems of Bhakti, poems of divine seeking, etc., or creates music of that kind, it means that there is a Bhakta or seeker inside who is supporting himself by that self-expression. There is also the point of view behind Lele’s answer to me when I told him that I wanted to do Yoga but for work, for action, not for Sannyasa and Nirvana, — but after years of spiritual effort I had failed to find the way and it was for that I had asked to meet him. His first answer was, ‘It would be easy for you as you are a poet.’ “

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 12, Other Aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Art, Poetry, Music, Literature, pp. 356-361

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