Is an artist only the person who paints, plays an instrument, cooks or writes? An artist produces beauty by being apt in a certain skill. Living skilfully is living as an artist, and usually this action only operates for a few hours of the day. These few hours contradict the rest of living, in which there is monotony, disorder, conformity or conflict. So is this really an artist?
A man who plays the guitar but keeps his eye on fame isn’t interested in his music, only exploiting this talent to be famous. The “me” becomes far more important than the music, and so it is with the painter or writer with their eye on money or status. These people are skilled in their particular fields, but it’s the rest of the vast field of life, which is disregarded.
So how does one live a life of skill and beauty? Living is action, just as playing an instrument is, sculpting, weaving or writing. When this action breeds sorrow, friction, jealousy, greed or conflict it ceases to be skilful.
So the question is not who is an artist, but can every person live a life of artistry, of beauty?
We can’t just cultivate a small corner of a huge field, and seek to escape to this small corner for our beauty and joy. We’re concerned with the whole field of life.
Artistry is to be completely awake, and skilful in the entire field of life. Any kind of job can breed artistry – what matters is if you’re awake. Are you awakened only by circumstances? By challenges, planned weekends, playing an instrument, meeting friends? If you’re awakened by an event – a cause – then you become dependant on it. And when you’re dependant on something you are allowing yourself to be put to sleep. So dependence is the end of skill, of artistry.
Love is the only thing that is causeless, that is free. It is beauty, skill, art. Without love there is no art. When the artist is playing beautifully there is no “me”. Skill in action is the absence of the “me”, the ego. Art is the absence of the “me”. The absence of the “me” in living is unconditional love, and beauty, and creation, which is living skilfully in the whole field of life.