Question: In which way are we supposed to see your art?
Sri Chinmoy: You are supposed to see my art with your aspiration-heart and dedication-life. Aspiration-heart means an inner cry, and dedication-life means a soulful smile.
Question: Why are your paintings so beautiful?
Sri Chinmoy: If my paintings are beautiful, then it is because l am trying to keep my heart always beautiful. My paintings are the outer expression of my heart’s prayer-beauty. When you appreciate my paintings, it is the outer manifestation of my heart’s beauty that you are seeing with your aspiration-heart. Therefore, you see my art as beautiful.
Question: What do you feel when you are painting?
Sri Chinmoy: Most of the time when I paint I get a kind of inner joy and a kind of inner discovery. When I paint, I discover something which I did not know before. That is why I get tremendous joy, most of the time, when I am painting. JKA-25
Question: What is art from the spiritual point of view?
Sri Chinmoy: From the spiritual point of view, art is an expression of divinity that is extremely meaningful and fruitful, It is through this divinity expression that we increase and bring to the fore our own inner potentiality.
Question: What do you feel when you look at a painting?
Sri Chinmoy: When I look at a painting, I try to feel its inner existence, which we call the soul. If a painting gives me an immediate inner thrill or a feeling of joy, if it touches my aspiring heart and makes me want to become a better person, then I feel that painting is meaningful for me. But if a particular work of art does not give my aspiring heart immediate inspiration, then I find it very difficult to appreciate. When I get a magnetic pull from a painting, then I become one with it. But if I see there is a yawning gulf between the painting and my own inspiration or aspiration, then I am unable to identify and become inseparably one with the artist and his painting. In no way am I judging these artists or their paintings; it is a Question of my incapacity or my capacity. There are millions of people who do appreciate these paintings.
Question: What do you think of when you are painting?
Sri Chinmoy: Most of the time I do not think at all when I am painting. But sometimes I do think of the higher worlds. Sometimes I think of my friends in the higher worlds. Sometimes I think of my disciples. Again, even when I am thinking, my thinking is not affecting my art. When I am thinking, I can keep my thinking capacity away from my painting capacity. They are like two persons in front of me, I am looking at only one person, my art the other person is watching what I am doing, but I am not conversing with that person, and I am not being affected by him at all. So when I am talking to someone in the inner world, or thinking of someone, It cannot directly affect my paintings. lt is like birds flying in the sky; they leave no mark. You may think that there will be some mark in the sky, but there is no mark at all. In my case, also, when thought comes, or when I enter into thought, it doesn’t affect my creativity.
Question: Are your paintings abstract?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, most of them are abstract. When I paint, I see a streak of light and I follow that streak of light very faithfully. Art is not my forte. When I started painting, I did not dislike it; I just did not have any particular interest in the subject. But who am I? My Inner Pilot inspired me and I just obeyed His command.
There are many, many things that I have done because I have been inspired from deep within. In no way had I ever thought of doing these things. I just try to be receptive to God’s Will and, according to the power of my receptivity, He acts in and through me. So I can’t take any credit for what people see in me. His Grace descends and I try to be a humble instrument of His.
Question: You have done over 300,000 paintings. Do you think you will aspire to do another 100,000?
Sri Chinmoy: First of all, I have not aspired to draw even one painting. I aspired to realise God. The Supreme out of His infinite Bounty granted me that boon. I aspired to be a poet and a writer. The Supreme was kind enough to grant this to me. At the dawn of my life, I wanted to become a good athlete. The Supreme was kind enough to grant that boon also. So I became a yogi, poet, writer, athlete, and so on. For all these things I aspired. To become a musician, I aspired in my own way. But when it is a matter of painting, I have been saying all the time that it is the Supreme’s absolute unconditional Grace and Compassion that has made me an artist, if I am one.
I will never aspire to draw or paint for the sake of appreciation. No! But if the Supreme wants to inspire me, if He wants to aspire in and through me in order to illumine the art-loving mankind, then He will paint in and through me. I as an individual will never aspire to make one more painting to draw world-acclaim or to manifest my capacity, which is only incapacity. I am not inspired to do that. I will aspire only to do one thing: to become and remain an ever-transcending, ever-illumining and ever-fulfilling instrument of the Supreme. For that only I will aspire. I will always try to become a perfect, more perfect, most perfect instrument, ever-transcending perfect instrument of the Supreme. For that I shall always aspire. But after realising God, I no longer aspire to become an athlete or a singer or a poet or a writer. No, no, no. I aspire only to become a more perfect, more illumining and more fulfilling instrument of the Supreme for the Supreme, and for this I shall eternally aspire.
Question: Is it necessary for every seeker to manifest some kind of art?
Sri Chinmoy: Certainly every seeker should try to manifest some kind of art. But that doesn’t mean that you have to draw something on a piece of paper or paint something on a canvas. Now, art can be in your talk, in your movement, in your prayer, in your meditation. In everything he does, each seeker should have, at every moment, an artistic touch — while talking, while giving, while moving, while conversing.
Question: Is there any relationship between art and sensitivity?
Sri Chinmoy: In a broad sense, sensitivity plays a considerable part in art. You can say they remain peacefully together. Again, if sensitivity does not want to remain in art, or if art does not want or need sensitivity, then they can remain totally apart.
An artist may have sensitivity in large measure. Again, an artist may have no sensitivity at all. Art and sensitivity can go together and should go together. But even if they remain separate, the artist can still manifest.
Question: Many of your paintings are in the shape of circles. Does this have a particular meaning?
Sri Chinmoy: Mentally there is no meaning; there is no meaning at all. You as an individual can give one meaning and somebody else can give another meaning. Just use your fertile brain. You will say, “He is drawing the world, and he is saying that the world is the place for realization, manifestation and perfection.” Somebody else will say that round, here, signifies zero. The world is nothing. It is meaningless. There is nothing here on earth, so he is saying, “Give up, give up everything. Only think of God.” So one will say that the paintings are telling us to accept everything, because the world has everything to offer — aspiration, realization, revelation and manifestation. And another will come up with the theory that this world is absurd, nothing, zero. So these are two theories that you and your fellow beings can apply to these paintings, if you use your fertile imagination.
But I as an artist, as an individual, know absolutely nothing as to why I have done this. It is a mystery to me, because I have not done it. lt is my Beloved Supreme who is painting in and through me.
Question: Is there any relationship between beauty and art?
Sri Chinmoy: Beauty and art go together. It is like a beautiful flower. A flower is nature’s art, God’s art. But when you look at it with your eyes and appreciate it, then what you see along with the flower is its beauty. The flower itself is art, but what it embodies is beauty. How can you separate beauty from the thing that embodies beauty? So, in that way, art and beauty go together.
Question: What is the role of art in the spiritual life?
Sri Chinmoy: The role of art in the spiritual life is first to awaken oneself and then to awaken the sincere seekers around one. Through self-discipline and self-sacrifice the seeker will first develop his oneness-heart, and then he will offer his oneness-heart to others. In the spiritual life, one has to be a seeker first. Then his aspiration he will offer to the world at large: That is his art. That is his progress for earth and his service to God.
Question: When an article on your paintings appears in the media, or when the public appreciates your paintings, are the paintings aware that they are doing something for your manifestation and do they receive some type of joy?
Sri Chinmoy: The paint, the brush, the paper,these will not be aware of the appreciation that is coming from the art-loving mankind. But the dedicated, devoted and loving consciousness of the artist will be aware. In the ordinary human life, appreciation may create problems. It may arouse ego, vanity and pride. But when the appreciation is for divine paintings, when the appreciation touches the divine consciousness of the artist, at that time it is not ego, pride or vanity that is aroused. Rather, an opportunity dawns both for the artist and for the painting, as such, to offer something to the art-loving mankind and also to Mother Earth, which always wants to cherish and treasure something more illumining and more fulfilling in her heart-garden of aspiration, love, light and delight.
Question: When I paint or sculpt, I always like to try and do it from my heart so that what I create is an expression of my heart. Can you please tell me how I can open my heart before I create and while I am actually creating?
Sri Chinmoy: Exactly the way flowers blossom. So go to your flower garden and look at a flower. See how slowly, steadily and unerringly the flower blossoms, petal by petal. So you kindly imagine inside your heart there is a lotus, or rose, or any flower that you like. Try to imagine that particular flower inside your heart. Then try to imagine that it is blossoming petal by petal. Similarly the heart itself expands. First it opens up. When you aspire, when you pray and meditate it opens up and gradually, gradually it expands. What we need at the very beginning, is the opening of our heart, and then, gradually, gradually, the expansion of our heart.
If you can imagine a flower inside your heart, it is quite possible to open up the heart. A flower is beautiful, pure, extremely beautiful, and extremely pure. Our heart is infinitely more beautiful and infinitely more pure and at the same time it is more than eager to pray and meditate. But the mind comes in and the mind does not allow the heart to come to the fore and do its regular activities, which are prayer and meditation.
Question: Are your paintings different in the inner world from what they are in the outer world?
Sri Chinmoy: In the inner world they look much more beautiful, because the inner world is the source. In the source, the beauty has just blossomed. And in the inner world, there is no conflict to ruin the beauty.
Here in the outer world, when something is created, it can be appreciated and it can be criticized. Jealousy can enter into it and, again, oneness can enter into it. Each painting gets quite a few blows from human beings when they say it is very bad. With your outer eye you will say that nothing is damaged. But if you look with your inner eye, you will see that the painting has become damaged. Again, if people are appreciating the painting, it is strengthened. But in the inner world, the painting is absolutely fresh; nobody has touched it. The inner eye does not pollute. In the outer eye there is envy and jealousy, and if you look at a painting with the wrong consciousness, with an un-aspiring consciousness, then the painting will be affected. But if you are aspiring while looking at the painting, your aspiration adds to the beauty and reality of the painting. So each time we pass judgement on a painting, we hurt the painting. If we simply say, “Oh, the colour should be that. Here it needs blue, and so forth,” then we hurt the painting. Each time we pass judgement on a painting, we hurt the painting; we strike the painting. Again, when we appreciate the painting, it becomes stronger.
The outer world is like a battlefield. Sometimes the painting is winning, sometimes it is losing. But in the inner world, it is not like that. When we look at a painting, we don’t criticize or judge it. Only we feel that this is how the Supreme wanted the painting to be done. We say, “Let us be one with the Supreme’s manifestation in and through this painting. Whatever is achieved in the inner world is the right thing.” So we become one with the painting as such. In the outer world, we see the painting as something other than our own reality. But in the inner world, we see the painting as an expression of our own inner reality. Therefore, we can’t criticize or judge, because we are what we eternally are. In the outer world, we are constantly separating the painting from our consciousness. Therefore, we are seeing it in a different light. In the inner world we are seeing it with oneness-light and in the outer world, we are seeing it with a sense of separativity. So naturally the paintings are different in the inner world and the outer world.
Question: As an artist, I am sometimes tempted to crave popularity. Could you please comment on what you feel God’s View on being popular is?
Sri Chinmoy: What kind of popularity does God want? Popularity is one thing; fulfillment is something else. One can be popular and, at the same time, one may not have the capacity or the willingness to fulfil God’s Will on earth. There are many people on earth who are popular. They are popular on the physical plane, on the vital plane or on the mental plane, but they are nowhere in God’s Oneness-plane. God wants to be fulfilled on all planes in a divine way. If we fulfil God on the physical plane, vital plane, mental plane, psychic plane and soul’s plane, then only will He be happy. By becoming popular in an ordinary human way, we do not please or fulfil God. What He wants is the fulfillment and execution of His Will. If we do not fulfil God, then although we are human beings, in no way is our consciousness better than the consciousness of animals and stones. If we fulfil God, He will be happy. Fulfillment is the thing that He needs, divine fulfillment – not so-called human popularity.
Question: Is it easier to reach a child through art or through music?
Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on the receptivity of the particular child. Some children are more drawn to music, while others ore more drawn to art. There cannot be any categorical rule. But you have to know that music is also a form of art, and art is a kind of Inner music. So if a child is interested in music, eventually he can develop considerable interest in art as well. Again, if somebody in the beginning of his life is deeply interested in art, he can easily develop on interest in music. Music and art are very close to each other, and they can easily move together.
Question: Is there any difference between the souls of your earliest paintings and the souls of your later paintings?
Sri Chinmoy: There is no difference between the souls of my earliest paintings and the souls of my latest paintings. Each soul has its own way of embodying, revealing and manifesting the Supreme’s Light. When the hour comes for a particular soul to embody, to reveal and to manifest the Light, that soul spontaneously, graciously and unconditionally makes me an instrument for the establishment of the divine Victory of the Supreme.
- Are your paintings abstract?
- Are your paintings different in the inner world?
- Breaking down the barriers
- Can anybody manifest some form of art?
- Did the most famous artists in the world get their inspiration from God?
- Do the colours in your paintings have different meanings?
- Do you carry paints, crayons and other art supplies with you when you travel?
- Do you ever feel that two colours don’t fit together?
- Does art reach the heart or the mind?
- Does colour have as much importance for an artist as it does for the spiritual seeker?
- How can an athlete who doesn’t have any artistic ability develop it?
- How can you manifest spirituality through art?
- I notice the drawings are all birds. Why birds?
- In terms of the spiritual life what would art be?
- In the spiritual life, is there a difference between art and music?