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Sacred Art: Supreme Realities

"Here in the West the nature of the world was traditionally understood with developing symbolic geometry in philosophy and art. In the ancient world architecture, music, astronomy and divination were based on a unified code of number and proportion which represented the objective foundation pattern of the universe." - John Michell, 1997 One of the current age's great downfalls is a misconstrued individualism supported by the 'information age'. Inflated egos and serious anti-knowledge, in the form of instantly disseminated garbled rubbish and mechanically repeated half-truths veiled as opinion, feed capitalist and consumerist ideologies, suffocating real creative thinking and genuine sacred values, which are universal and eternal. Much of the disasters we face in the modern world are because of our pathetic, often virtual versions of freedom and our over-empirical mind-sets. We discard our great traditions of which many are the Houses of our ancient Sacred Ways. In our increasingly perverse clambering for proof that we exist, perilously ignoring we are part spirit anyway, we are in danger of forgetting the supreme realities within the earth's sacred arts and cultures. But a little effort studying and working with universal laws and sacred arts can bring rapid changes for the ordinary guy. True creative knowledge and increased intuition (not information) is achieved with a little bit of understanding of the basic structure of the universe and the appreciation of that most elusive and misrepresented of qualities; beauty. In sacred art, beauty is an aspect of the real and not part of an aestheticism whose outlines are purely subjective. The revealed sacred visual arts such as mandalas, arabesque, symbolism, the Golden Mean, labyrinths, fractals and spirals are expressed in a myriad of traditions and cultures through their arts and architecture. With the right methodology, their inherent universal principles can be translated into natural, workable values such as harmony, cohesion, empathy, gratitude, humility and joy. Quite simply, the bigger picture becomes clearer when we study the created universe through the adornment of sacred forms. Our own beings begin to harmonise with what are essentially divine qualities. In sacred art, process and product are one and in our participation, self becomes a verb and we rise to become yet truer creators. The universe is reflected through the pure forms and dynamic equilibriums of sacred geometry and art. Through integration and self-reflection, we can literally gain structural insight into the workings of the inner self, thereby attaining spiritual wholeness. Without some working knowledge of the spirit in all things, we are doomed to eternal earthly entrapment. The principles found in Sacred Art can be a Swiss Army knife of living, perhaps creatively addressing what can even be life or death issues for us and our communities. Surprisingly to many, one of the best sacred traditions embodying the nature of the universe through its art is Islam. Islamic art is very clear in demonstrating deep universal principles, with its emphasis on harmony of form borrowed from nature and the artistic implementation of mathematics and various sciences. Like human nature, it is organic and at the same time precise. In Islam's most inward dimension, its esotericism, art plays an inextricable role. The ultimate and common object of both love and beauty is seen as none other than the Divine Beauty. Since beauty is an aspect of reality, contemplative art is therefore knowledge. Yet in our upside-down world, the very mention of the word 'Islam' in many circles creates instant discomfort and even confusion. As we know, Islam means 'peace and unity', and this manifest world is not at peace. Embedded deep in our psyche lies a dangerous irony which is constantly reinforced, largely through our connection to world events through the dissemination of enmity by the media. We even gaze entertained as corrupted elements of government fight for global unity with their so-called enemy, who has an apparently increasing stockpile of warped values masquerading as religious. Meanwhile we float gently away from the sanctified source of deeper understanding and thus microcosmically, our own personal evolution and unification. Jonathan Drury was born in Sheffield. He is an artist-educator with a background in art and design, personal development, world religions and education spanning 20 years. He designs and facilitates creative development programmes for schools, community groups and private coaching. He has travelled through the Middle and Near East, researching sacred art. )

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