How can people express the spiritual through art, music and literature? The spiritual can describe our deep thoughts and feelings, but also the things in life that inspire us, help us think about the meaning of life, and make us feel awe, wonder, and happiness. Art, music and writing, anything creative can help us share these feelings.
Walk into a sacred building like this and the first thing you might feel is: wow! This whole building is designed to give us the feeling that God is here.
In a Hindu mandir you will see murtis which are images of gods and goddesses. But for Hindus, murtis are not just statues or paintings. A ceremony is held to invite the energy of God to fill the image. Murtis are therefore always treated as guests of honor.
Hindus and Buddhists create these detailed circular designs called mandalas, which can be focused on during meditation. Christian icons are works of art that depict Jesus and other important figures in Christian history. The beauty of an icon is designed to arouse spiritual thoughts.
Jews believe that they should only pray to God who cannot be seen or imagined. So there are no images of God in a synagogue and you generally won’t find images of people there either. Instead, synagogues are often decorated with images of plants, trees and religious symbols.
And for the same reason, you generally won’t find photos of people or animals in a mosque. Muslims use other types of decoration, such as calligraphy, the art of beautiful writing. These are verses in Arabic from the Koran, the Muslim holy book.
Music! It has always been an important part of religious worship because it allows us to express our deepest emotions. Synagogues employ a cantor or chazzan whose job is to lead the singing of prayers, songs and passages from the Hebrew Bible. In a church, you will hear more modern hymns or worship songs. Hindus and Sikhs sing hymns called bhajans and some Muslims sing nasheeds, which are sung without any instruments to worship Allah with only the beauty of the human voice.
But spiritual does not necessarily mean religious. Many non-religious people would agree that the way we respond to art is spiritual but not mystical or divine. It’s a wonderful, natural response to beauty. So whatever your beliefs, you can use art, music, poetry and stories to share your feelings and ask your questions about life and what it all means.
What work of art gave you a spiritual experience?