The word art implies that there is an essence of something that is being given form. As a musical composer and songwriter, I initially perceive some kind of essential reality, something that is like a tune that hasn’t been sung. I hear it through my heart and mind. They feel the essential nature of it. And then there is the big idea that what has been touched could be given form and allowed to live in the world.
As an artist, we are the first one to enjoy that process of creation. As I write music, I am there in some kind of ecstatic state, feeling the music pour through. I can hardly believe that I get to hear it and feel it, before it has ever been played. It moves so profoundly through heart and mind, and then takes shape on a music staff. Before I even ever hear a note of it live, as sound in the world, I get to hear it in my mind; I get to feel it.
I imagine that is the way it is for anyone in any kind of art. The artist gets to experience it first. And then, at some point, that art is given to other people. At some point in the creative process of writing a song and having it performed, I realize it’s not for me anymore—it’s to be shared.
I believe the practice of art is important for anyone who is serious about their spiritual path. It is the practice of touching something essential and giving it form. Through an artistic practice we have the opportunity to have an intensified experience in creating. So what we think of as art opens up a channel that is relevant for all the rest of our living. That channel is for the art itself—for the song, the visual art, dance or whatever it is. But art has the opportunity to be a spiritual practice that becomes relevant to all of life. What I have learned about writing music is relevant to me in writing these words.
How about for you, in your artistry? Is your art relevant to what you are doing now? If art is perceiving something essential and giving it form, what are we touching?
Of course, in this situation, it is a collective process. There are many people involved in the production of The Pulse of Spirit, and many more who read it. When you opened this document, did you have a sense of potentiality? Perhaps there was an urge to experience some kind of renewal. Or a desire to commune at a deeper level personally with the mystical. Certainly, that is my desire in authoring these words. The urge to touch the mystical and give it form in thoughts and words takes me on a journey in consciousness, and hopefully the same happens for you as you read. Through that journey, we are initiating an artistic process. We are touching essential factors for our life that relate to the art of living, and that is relevant to all the forms of our life.
I think of Sunrise Ranch, where I live, as a piece of art. All the dimensions of it are a work of art. The garden here is a work of art, and there are artists in the garden. There are a pack of artists in our kitchen. We who consume the food that the kitchen produces are touching something essential, which the artists in the kitchen put into the food they prepare. We touch the care, the love and the devotion to service of the chefs.
There is a perfection to artistry. I know, in writing a song, that’s how it is for me. I write an initial draft of the song, and then I play it through. I look for anything in the form of the music that isn’t conforming to the essence that I felt.
Oh, this note is out of place over here. What is that note doing there? This word isn’t quite right. There’s something missing in this whole thing.
If you are a visual artist, don’t you look for perfection? Don’t you step back from the work of art and ask, Well, what else is needed here to make it what it should be?
Sunrise Ranch is like that. All of life is. As an artist, we show up looking for something. Yes, we are digging ditches and we are washing dishes and we are creating websites. But the artist in us is looking for some kind of perfection. Not a perfection to be enshrined forever in a museum, but we are looking for something that comes around right in form. And when that perfection is there, there is a resonance with the essence inside it, so that it is vibrating with that essence. It comes alive. When wholeness is there, the wholeness of the essence comes through. And the artist in us looks and says, “How beautiful!” There is that moment, in growing a garden, of looking out at the row of lettuce or whatever it is and thinking, “That’s so perfect! That is so beautiful. That is what I wanted to create.” Isn’t that the instinct of the artist? To look for that day when you can look out at that row of lettuce and say, “Yes! That’s it, that’s it!”
And about five minutes later you’re picking the lettuce and bringing it into the kitchen, and that row of lettuce is there no more for that season. So perfection is a passing thing. At Sunrise Ranch, we look to allow the garden to evolve year after year. This year we have eight acres of in-ground garden. That’s the largest acreage we have had ever at Sunrise Ranch. So it is evolving cyclically. It’s growing year by year, and each year the perfection is more grand, more beautiful.
We are not just digging ditches or hoeing weeds. Yes, we are doing all the things that we need to do to have a garden and to have Sunrise Ranch and to live a creative life. But we are not just doing tasks. We are artists in the task. And artistry is a spiritual act. The artistry of life is a spiritual act.
In this meditation I am seeking to go deeper, step-by-step. I want to take it another step with you. I am in the process of writing a short history of Emissaries of Divine Light for our new emissaries.org website. As I was doing some research in the volumes of The Third Sacred School, which are the writings of Uranda and Martin Cecil, I came across a chapter by Uranda from a talk he gave on the evening of February 10, 1946. He spoke of his work from the time of his own spiritual awakening in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1932.
Since that period I have traveled in forty-five of the forty-eight states in order to draw the people. And here, from all these scattered places, we have a little group tonight working on the basic vibrations and undertaking to strengthen the basic current already in operation and let the radiation reach out to all those responding
The Third Sacred School, Volume 5, Chapter 41
Sunrise Ranch had just been purchased; there was a small group of spiritual pioneers who were with him at the time. Things had fallen apart for Uranda many times in the thirteen years of his traveling. But all the while, he was bringing together the essential vibrational factors that would lead to a strong, whole body of people who were engaged in the work of spiritual regeneration.
And isn’t that how true artistry goes? Artistry is not just working with all the outer forms of the art—What color should I use? or, What note should I use? Real artistry requires that we are deeply into the essential factors of the artistry. This can’t be just a passing interest in the unheard melodies of the universe. You don’t become a composer that way. It takes intense, passionate listening, a cracking open, an intense desire to hear music that hasn’t been played before. And now we’re talking about the artistry of living—and, to raise the ante a little bit, we are talking about the future of humanity. We are talking about the evolution of human consciousness and human culture, and the artistry of letting that happen in our own experience and sharing it with others.
That requires intense interest in the essential factors of the culture to be born, of the world to be born, of new consciousness. This is not just a passing interest: Oh, I had a lovely idea. Not just a one-time sharing of something with other people. We are talking here about a profound opening and a profound meditation. We are talking about a level of thought that goes beyond the intellectual. We are talking about a profound cracking open of the heart so that the rhythms of the universe can be felt and heard, so that the promise of a new world can be taken in and felt deeply and intelligently; so that the patterns to emerge through consciousness and then through culture and into the world can truly be received; so that we are not just taking the old patterns available in the mass consciousness and in the culture and constantly recycling them.
For Uranda, it took thirteen years traveling around the country, being in certain places for varying periods of time, watching things come together and fall apart. But always, himself, working with a small group of people to allow the essential vibrational factors, the essential pattern and design of humankind being reborn, to take shape in the minds and hearts and in the mini-culture of the people that he was working with.
How about us? We are people around the world who are interested in spiritual regeneration—in the transformation of consciousness and culture, and in the future of humanity. How deep does it go, personally and individually? How seriously are we taking our artistry? First of all, our specific art, whatever that might be for you or for me. How deeply do we practice it? And then how seriously do we take the art of living that we are practicing together? The art of life itself?
That is individual, for sure; it doesn’t have any meaning if it doesn’t become individual for you and for me. But it is also collective. And there’s a great opportunity for distraction! I can comment on how well I think you are practicing the art, and I can complain about how it’s all going together—all distraction! Uranda was undistracted, and so we have the thriving physical form of Sunrise Ranch today. We have the body of people that we call Emissaries of Divine Light today, because of his focus for those years, and more.
That focus prepared us to meet all the things that we have met over these years. It is why we are still here. The strength and clarity of that essential vibrational pattern that he brought through, with whoever was available to bring it through with him, has been strong enough to sustain the onslaught of human culture as it is, arising through all the people who came to be with him and then who have come to Sunrise Ranch and have been with the Emissaries. Some of that onslaught has been through you and through me, if we’re to get honest about it. But there has also been the practice, the deep practice of the art of living that some of us, at least, have taken seriously—at least seriously enough that the vibrational pattern is sustaining itself.
So I call upon the artist in each of us. Ultimately that artist is the Divine, the individualized aspect of the reality of God that is you and is me. That is the artist. And so we call upon that reality and let it be operative through us, and then there is the natural synchronization of God Being through us all.
We are practicing the art of living for all humankind.