There are two aspects of thing—the outward and the inward. It is purely a matter of emphasis with me. The outward has no meaning except in so far as it helps the inward. All true art is thus the expression of the soul. The outward forms have value only in so far as they are the expression of the inner spirit in man. Art of that nature has the greatest possible appeal for me. But I know that many call themselves artists, and are recognized as such, and yet in their works there is absolutely no trace of the soul's upward urge and unrest.
All true art must help the soul to realize its inner self. In my own case, I find that I
can do entirely without external forms in my soul's realization. I can claim,
therefore, that there is truly efficient art in my life, though you might not
see what you call works of art about me. My room may have blank walls; and I may
even dispense with the roof, so that I may gaze out at the starry heavens
overhead that stretch in an unending expanse of beauty. What conscious art of
man can give me the panoramic scenes that open out before me, when I look up to
the sky above with all its shining stars? This, however, does not mean that I
refuse to accept the value of production of arts, generally accepted as such,
but only that I personally feel how inadequate these are compared with the
eternal symbols of beauty in Nature. These productions of man's art have their
value only in. so far as they help the soul onward towards self-realization.
I see and find beauty in Truth or through Truth. All Truths, not merely true ideas, but
truthful faces, truthful pictures, or songs are highly beautiful. People
generally fail to see Beauty in Truth, the ordinary man runs away from and
becomes blind to the beauty in it. Whenever men begin to see Beauty in Truth,
then true art will arise.
To a true artist only that face is beautiful which, quite apart from its exterior, shines
with the Truth within the soul. There is ... no Beauty apart from Truth. On the
other hand, Truth may manifest itself in forms which may not be outwardly
beautiful at all. Socrates, we are told, was the most truthful man of his time,
and yet his features are said to have been the ugliest in Greece. To my mind he
was beautiful because all his life was a striving after Truth, and you may
remember that this outward form aid not prevent Phidias from appreciating the
beauty of Truth in him, though as an. artist he was accustomed to see Beauty in
outward forms also.
Truth and untruth often co-exist; good and evil are often found together. In an artist
also, not seldom, the right perception of things and the wrong co-exist. Truly
beautiful creations come when right perception is at work. If these moments are
rare in life they are also rare in art.
These beauties ('a sunset or a crescent moon that shines amid the stars at night') are
truthful, inasmuch as they make me think of the Creator at the back of them. How
else could these be beautiful, but for the Truth that is in the centre of
creation? When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my
soul expands in worship of the Creator. I try to see Him and His mercies in all
these creations. But even the sunsets and sunrises would be mere hindrances if
they did not help me to think of Him. Anything, which is a hindrance to the
flight of the soul, is a delusion and a snare; even like the body, which often
does actually hinder you in the path of salvation.