Huston Smith quote from his 1957 film about India:
"In India art is religion , religion art.
Her arts are strictly utilitartian.
Their purpose is to inform and transform.
Inform us of the way things truly are.
Transform us into what we might truly be."
You said in your film that for India art is religion, religion art. Help me to understand that.
Plotinus said that the soul that beholds beauty becomes beautiful. And the Indians I think would agree with that. We must realize that through the ages most Indians were illiterate. And that meant that their sacred texts were not in written words for the most part, they were in sculpture, painting, dance, temples with their beauty. The truths came through, not so much the mind with its cerebrations, but through the eye, through the ear, and kinesthetically, through the dance form.
India never had the notion, until our century, of art for arts sake. Art was a spiritual technology. And it is really very miraculous how art makes easy what otherwise would be very difficult. Now what is otherwise difficult, and the answer is how to behave decently to one another. Sometimes that's easy, but not always, or the world wouldn't be in the shape its in.
But art, as I say, when its great art, and really working, what it
does is to transform us to a different state of consciousness from
which the world looks very different. And from that different way
in which the world looks, we find spontaneously that we want to
behave decently. When you go to a museum and just wash your eyes
in just great beauty, you go out in a different place, the world
looks differently. And it is literally true that a mean or
despicable act is just unthinkable.
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