3/31/21: Silence (2016) — Spirituality, Human Nature, and Art #poetry
I write to the themes. I was asked how I make unlikely connections. I don’t think about it. I write to the themes. I have gone on this Martin Scorsese kick lately. I don’t know why. It just happened. I can see three major themes in his work. Oh, I’ll add a fourth: spirituality, human nature, art, and how spirituality interacts with human nature. Oh, I’ll also add a fifth — how art interacts with human nature.
Spirituality and art are similar in that they run counter to the lowest impulses in human nature, and greatly appeal to the highest impulses. Artists and saints are special and different. They are the most powerful leaders of mankind.
This movie, beautiful to look at, and about the most important matters, cost a ton a money, and lost it all. A reader wonders why quality is not popular. Sometimes it is. Popularity is irrelevant to the artist and the saint.
The spiritual person listens to God and does what God tells him or her to do. The spiritual person is an outlaw when society is alienated from God, and a hero or sage when society is close to God. An artist listens to God, then relays God’s message to other men and women. When people want to hear from God the artist is popular. When they don’t, the artist is obscure or disliked.
God persistently inspires the words and deeds of a special class of men and women. That class persistently acts and speaks for God.
Silence is about missionaries. Missionaries can only be received by those who want to hear them. Missionary work was perverted when it was used as a means of expanding political and economic empires. Spiritual people and artists have to be very careful that they are not exploited by people uninterested in the aims of God. This is what happens to sincere and naive missionaries.
Sincerity, purity … and cunning … the spiritual person, and the artist have to understand the low motives of men, and defend themselves and their work. The Last Temptation of Christ is about a man learning about his spiritual nature, and learning how that spirituality can function in proper relation to his own human nature and the nature of all humanity around him.
Corruption, ignorance, cruelty … first bring suffering, and then lessons are learned and finally can be dealt with without psychological suffering. A level of enlightenment can be achieved where fear has been vanquished and replaced by understanding.
Suffering ends in death … or ends in silence. Christianity says we suffer and die, and then we are redeemed. Art says that we can be redeemed while we are still alive.
Spirituality and art begin when prayers, ideas and questions end. When we are no longer problems to ourselves, we can really get started. This is why Jesus is called “Master”. There are degrees of mastery … black belt, brown belt and so on. Christ got his black belt on the cross when he said “it is accomplished” and died.
Art holds the promise of attaining mastery before one dies.
Surrender like an alcoholic.
Surrender like a Buddha.
Buddhism isn’t a religion. I know nothing about it — except that it says that enlightenment is possible.
Life and death coexist in silence.
To sit silently is the ultimate act of faith. Faith is experienced, not believed.
Our authentic lives are acts of faith — when we live not as we or others think we should, but when we simply manifest who we are.Our essential natures are in perfect harmony with one another. Our ignorance is also harmonious — an overlay on reality. The fact that we struggle for understanding what is actual is a collection of discordant notes written into the symphony.
Everything is as it should be — past, present and future. Underneath every moment of my suffering, was the beauty, and wonder of my natural life.
Learning takes place in a field of conflict — inner torment and outer war. There is always something to learn … total enlightenment must be the realization that one is on the path to enlightenment. Our forward gaze is improvisation, our backward gaze is classical structure.
Love challenges power, and power attempts to destroy love. Know this. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God’s.” Sometimes, you can avoid the fight with power. You can disguise yourself in art and be invisible to harm. Sometimes life forces you to stand against injustice — to suffer physically and even die. But you can die peacefully and even joyfully if you know the score — without doubt, without psychological suffering. The martyr dies, the dude abides.
The cruel powerful do the work of God the Father, placing his spiritual and artistic sons and daughters through many trials.
God doesn’t answer our prayers. We should listen to instead of interrogate God. He doesn’t talk to us constantly. We have to be patient. Life doesn’t work. It grows.
Thomas Merton and Carl Jung merged Eastern and Western religious traditions. The truth is universal.
Religion is a cultural matter. Spirituality and art are beyond cultures.
There is an aspect to being a human being that is deeper and more elemental than society, history, ethnicity, certainly religion … and anything else that divides us.
“We find our original nature in Japan, Rodriguez. Perhaps it is what is meant by ‘finding God”.
Silence is a sequel to The Last Temptation of Christ. There need be no conflict between our spirituality and art and ordinary life.
Christ sacrificed his life to get enlightenment, and then He got it back.
Silence begins when pride ends.
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God’s.” Then you will be one. The artist speaks about Caesar’s world in front of a back light of Love.
We wear many uniforms in the course of a life. From heretic to true believer. God is the essential thing, beyond the word “God” — found in our silence.
Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas