The arts can be immensely helpful in therapy, in spiritual
growth, in your meditations. But it is taking a hard and long way
unnecessarily. The shortcut is: first, meditation, and then out of
meditation comes creativity of its own accord. Otherwise, it is a
long journey; even one life may not be enough.
For example, the paintings of Picasso are nothing but his nightmares, as if somebody is not painting but vomiting. It has helped him to relieve himself of his tensions, schizophrenia, paranoia and all kinds of mental repressions. But it is not of much use to you. In fact, if you go on looking at a Picasso painting for a long time, you will feel sick, because it is vomiting. You will start feeling nauseous. This is not real art.
The people who created the Taj Mahal - that is real art. They were Sufi mystics who knew what meditation is. And they created the Taj Mahal in such a way that if on every full-moon night, exactly at nine o′clock in the evening, you just sit looking at the most beautiful architecture in the whole world, you will find suddenly you are becoming silent, peaceful, serene. Something is transpiring between you and the Taj Mahal.
Gurdjieff used to call the Taj Mahal, objective art. It means: created by people who are fully aware, able to create something which can help people to grow. He would not call Picasso an objective artist. Picasso is a subjective artist, he is just throwing up whatsoever is in his mind. It is not going to help anybody. Picasso feels relieved, but for how long? Soon he will gather tensions again. Soon he will be again in a state of insanity, and then he will paint. Painting is a release for him.
The people who built the Taj Mahal - it is not a release for them; it is their experience. And they are trying somehow to make something which can also give you the same experience - at least a glimpse of it.
In India there are many places of objective art, and it is obvious why they are in India - because for ten thousand years the country has been involved with meditative techniques. The caves of Ajanta and Ellora... there are many caves; the whole mountain has been carved. Great caves have been made into the mountain. A line of caves - perhaps thirty or thirty-five, and each cave has its own beauty; not just beauty, but its own meditative fragrance from a different angle.
In the last cave, Buddha is lying down just before he died. It is a long statue - perhaps thirty feet long. Just sitting by the side, alone in the cave, you can again feel something that must have been felt by people who saw Buddha dying - the release of his light, the release of his soul becoming universal. Somehow the statue gives you an insight into it.
Tourists miss it. It is not something that you simply go in and have a look and then rush into another cave. That is simply idiotic. And most of the tourists are idiots. Most of them are old women having nothing to do. Perhaps they have finished their husbands - now there is nobody even to nag. India is full of old women from all over the world.
Tourists cannot understand it. You have to sit down. You have to be quiet and silent. The cave is very cool - remains cool even in the hottest summer - and outside is the lush green valley. If you can sit for an hour or more, then perhaps some glimpses of objective art will be felt.
There is one cave in Ajanta which has been made of special stones which are musical. You can just hit them with your hand, with your finger, and you will be surprised that they resound just like a guitar. If you are really a good musician, you can create any music on those pillars in the cave, on the walls of the cave.
But if you are not a musician, no problem: you simply sit there. Once in a while a breeze comes in, and with the breeze there is a murmuring music in the cave. And it is so soothing. I have never known anything that can be so soothing to your mind, to your heart, to your body - so relaxing. This is objective art.
But your question is, "Can art help somehow in being more healthy spiritually? Can it become a therapy?" Yes, it can; vomiting is a therapy. And when you are feeling nauseous, it is good to vomit, have a good vomit, and you will feel clean. The nausea is gone. But this is not something of great help. Please go vice versa: first meditation, then out of meditation there is a spontaneity of creativity.
Right now you don′t know even what areas of creativity can bring out your potential for spiritual growth. To paint? - everybody is not a painter. To write poetry? - everybody is not a poet. To play music? - everybody is not a musician. How are you going to choose in your confusion? But if you are silent through meditation, utterly silent, suddenly you feel a tremendous urge to create something, to become a musician.... It comes spontaneously!
I know one of the great musicians in India - it is inconceivable, the way he created music. You know the name of Ravi Shankar - Ravi Shankar married that great musician′s daughter; Ravi Shankar is his disciple. He was capable of creating music with anything. He would start hitting just two pieces of steel, and you will be surprised how many and how beautiful were the sounds he could create out of it. He was a born musician.
A meditator finds his potential and starts moving towards it. Then poetry or dance or sculpture - whatever happens spontaneously - is objective art. It is your contribution.
It will help you to grow spiritually. It will be your real therapy, because growth is therapy. It will give you authentic spiritual health. And, by the way, it will help many other people who can for a few moments sit silently, listen to your music, or watch your dance, or see your painting. They will be immensely benefited because your art will give them a certain direction towards meditation.
So my suggestion is, everything starts with meditation. And if you try other things, you will be going on a sorry-go-round for many lives, round and round - I cannot call it a merry-go-round - but you will never reach to your center.
The first and the foremost act of a sannyasin is to reach to his center, and then leave everything to that experience to explode in its own way. Then you are natural. Then whatever you do is helpful to you and helpful to others. This is the only love, compassion that you can share with humanity.