How TM Affected My Art
by Katy Kirbach

Prior to regularly practicing TM, I knew I wanted to do something in the arts, but I wasn't certain what, or why. I was drawn to the idea of being an artist, but I was confused because I didn't understand what the artist's role was in modern society. I felt trapped and restrained by a lack of talent, initiative, and experiential and intellectual understanding, which led to a lack of artistic fulfillment.

Maharishi frequently says that it is impossible to solve a problem on the level of the problem: to get rid of the darkness, don't search the darkness for a solution, simply turn on the light. TM was the light that cleared away my questions and doubts. As I evolved as a person due to my regular practice of TM, I began to understand that artists had lost sight of their role in society and were groping in the darkness, trying in their own desperate ways to turn on the light. I saw that artists were marching and protesting in their own manner: through political art, or simply shocking, grotesque art. A sick sort of circus show had gotten the better of the art world, a show where first prize generally went to the most bizarre "cutting edge" work, or to the artist who had best marketed and packaged themselves. The art world had done an about-face, perhaps via the introduction of galleries, and the artist, and the size of the artist's ego, was suddenly more important than the work itself. The art world had become a place where "anything goes"--yet it was passť to work from life, even scorned to study painting and drawing in the traditional manner. In many artistic circles, traditional techniques discovered during the Renaissance, such as perspective, were shunned. Instead, the free, emotional, imaginative styles from the Dark Ages were preferred.

There is a good argument for shunning traditional methods, as they can bog the artist down and suck all of the life out of the work. However, I realized that I wanted a foundation to spring from: I wanted to master traditional methods, I wanted to be a master like Michelangelo, Leonardo, or Rembrandt, before I moved on to new things. It wasn't enough for me to know that someone else had mastered proportions or perspective, I wanted to do it myself, to know how it was done. My curiosity had gotten the better of me. It was the regular practice of TM, and the words of Maharishi, which showed me how to gain artistic mastery, and gave me the patience to gain it: I realized that artistic mastery was like enlightenment. It was something that was there all along, but walls had to come down to get to it: at first, I had to fight between my mind telling me that an arm or a leg looked a certain way, and my eyes telling me they looked entirely different.

Just as it is important to regularly practice TM, I learned that it took commitment to master the pencil or paintbrush: I had to sketch, look, and study. I had to have the determination to come up against difficulties and overcome them. This determination was backed up by the knowledge that Maharishi encouraged the artist to work from life; I knew that TM was a foundation for life, a basis in the Absolute, which led to success in the relative. I saw that Maharishi was encouraging art based on life as that way to build a foundation and gain mastery. That was all the encouragement I needed. However, I soon saw that mastery wasn't where art ended, it was simply where it began: as my skill increased, I began to wonder, once again, what the purpose of the artist was in the modern world.

My answer came to me gradually: first, it was based in the feeling of bliss and timelessness when deep in the transcendent. Usually, I experience the transcendent during TM, but I found myself also experiencing it as I painted. Finally, I experienced transcendence and absolute healing while standing in front of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci. After several hours in front of that single painting, I knew what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to create art that would uplift, heal, and enlighten the viewer. I wanted each painting to be a gift to the world, to act as a comfort and solace to any world-weary individual.
Several months after realizing the purpose of the artist, I came across a quote by Maharishi: "The purpose of art is to elevate the viewer, to raise his level of consciousness. The artist, while creating, dives deep within, contacts the field of pure creative intelligence, and rises to express creativity. The viewer experiences the artist's work of art from the outside and through the work of art, dives deep within himself. The work of art does not sit permanently or statically. The consciousness that the art reflects and contains bounces into the viewer and enlivens his being. Successful art keeps enlivening infinity in the people who enjoy it, and continues to resonate infinity in itself generation after generation."

I can say, with complete honesty, that the experience and practice of TM changed, and continues to change, my perception of the world, of myself, and of my purpose as a human being and an artist. TM is the greatest thing that ever happened to me, because the experience of transcendence and pure creative intelligence act as the light in my life, obliterating the darkness.

Aug 2004

 


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