"Behind the Scenes"

Art as a Hidden Message

A Guide to Self-Realization
by Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters)

I'm not exactly sure when it was that I wrote this book. The fact is, I rewrote it completely at least three times. Each edition was complete enough in itself to be considered a volume in its own right. My final version, however, comes the closest to what I'd really been trying to say from the start.

My problem was how to state clearly the ideas I had to express. The book is based on a "revelation" I had when I was eighteen years old. At least, it seemed a revelation to me at the time, though I'm not so sure I'd call it that today. What happened was that I received a sudden, profound insight into the true meaning and purpose of the arts, which in my mind included every form of self-expression, particularly music, sculpture, painting, and literature, that represents an attempt to communicate something meaningful to others. My concept excluded mere decorations, however tasteful.

The insight I received was not something I could verbalize. Many decades passed before I could explain it even adequately to others. It had to do with truth, the need to express the truth with truth, and the need also to understand that truth is, fundamentally, not something negative, but joyful and uplifted. Art that is brutal, sordid, bitter, or angry—as so much of it seems to be, nowadays—is imposing a personal bias onto reality. As Paramhansa Yogananda said, "Circumstances are always neutral. They seem happy or sad according to the happy or sad attitudes of the mind." The mind itself, moreover, is naturally happy when it projects no personal expectations onto its surroundings.

The revelation I had proved to be vitally important for me in my search for truth—the search that finally made me resolve to devote my life to God.

See Also: Contents  Intro  Sample Chapter  

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