Sandcastles vs. Taj Mahals
This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on October 10, 2016.
I have recently been preoccupied with the meaning of life, and expressed my fear that maybe all my life was spent building what amounts to a sandcastle. It was depressing.
Some of you—thank you—told me to stop and desist, that I have done a lot for the world I live in. You said that I have done my share of tikun olam, so all this self-doubt is not warranted. Stop kvetching one said. Thank you. You are probably right.
But I still hold to my point: We all create sandcastles. We climb mountains that are only in our heads. We chase imaginary rainbows we never capture. The rainbow moves. And for every mountain peak we ascended it was only to see the next mountain with the next peak.
Climbing mountains and chasing rainbows is not without benefit. That is not the sand castle I was referring to. While alive we contribute and do good, but after we die what happens to what we have created? We are forgotten or at best, our work gets reinterpreted, and often abused. Look what the Inquisitors did with Jesus’s preaching on love. Karl Marx had the best of intentions to make a better world and what did his followers implement? Gulags, cultural revolutions, and oppressive misery for the masses.
What is permanent? What is not a sandcastle?
It occurred to me that fine art is not like a sandcastle. It is recreated each time a piece of art is viewed or music is played.
I remember visiting the Taj Mahal for the first time. I thought I knew what to expect—I had seen the pictures many times. But seeing it in real life was something else. As I turned the corner at the entrance to the tourist attraction, and it came in full view, I admit, I started crying. I was moved. What I saw was so beautiful. Why is that?
I do not get so moved, energized, or uplifted by rap music or dance music. If I do it is only for a very short interval of time. Only certain music moves me repetitively. Music my mother used to sing to me, for example. I can still feel the love in her voice years later. And certain classical music I love. I get energized by quality fine art, not by the kind of paintings found on motel walls.
What is the common denominator?
These works are produced not to serve the artist, nor to serve the audience. They are created out of inspiration, where the artist is only an honest instrument, a channel, pure as can be, for the inspiration that comes from love. My mother’s music inspires me because there was so much love in her singing to me, and to her grandchildren. And the Taj Mahal was built to express the love of the emperor to his beloved wife that passed away. And what is absolute love? Is it not God?
Real creative artists will tell you they did not create their work; they were inspired in creating it. Pay attention to the word inspired, which is so close to “in spirit.” Real artists are a clean channel through which higher consciousness expresses itself.
Where is this inspiration coming from? I suggest from God. And what is God if not absolute LOVE. And God is permanent.
When what is created is created with pure LOVE, true, unconditional love it is more permanent. Not a sandcastle. That is why I said previously in my blog that I am most alive when I give of myself and yield to love—not to ego, not to money, not to fame—but to do God’s work, to do what inspires me, what fulfills my heart.
How much love is there in the work you do? How inspired are you? Do you create for ego gratification? For the bank account? Or you create whatever you do, even wash restrooms, because you cannot help it. It is stronger than you. Bigger than you. You will die inside if you do not do it? And if it financially rewarded, we do not reject it but we do not chase it.
If so, you are blessed. . . I am.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes