Friday, July 8, 2011

Love: The Saving Force

Disclosure: I am a Christian who accommodates other global faiths. I like to think that the spiritual jewel is multifaceted.

I am also a humanist. One definition puts it this way:

"Contemporary humanism entails a qualified optimism about the capacity of people, but it does not involve believing that human nature is purely good or that all people can live up to the Humanist ideals without help. If anything, there is recognition that living up to one's potential is hard work and requires the help of others. The ultimate goal is human flourishing; making life better for all humans, and as the most conscious species, also promoting concern for the welfare of other sentient beings and the planet as a whole. The focus is on doing good and living well in the here and now, and leaving the world a better place for those who come after."

In light of this admission there is an interesting article by Holland Cotter for the NYT about an art exhibition in Brooklyn entitled "Vishnu: Hinduism's Blue-skinned Savior." It provides a vivid perspective about Hinduism with its three gods, Vishna, Brahma, and Shiva who lead the pantheon.

"Shiva is an indisputable star, thanks partly to some exceptional luck with branding. The sculptural image of him as a high-stepping dancer has always been, and for very good reason, a hit. Brahma, by contrast, has only the vaguest of visual profiles. There aren’t many images of him, or temples in his honor. His fan base even in India is small; his celebrity, what remains of it, is left over from antique times.

Purely in terms of power, Vishnu is every bit Shiva’s match, though again, appearances can be deceiving. In sculptures and paintings — and I’m simplifying here — Shiva tends to look active, Vishnu passive. Shiva creates new life by stamping up a storm; Vishnu does it by lying down in a milky sea. Even standing still, Shiva looks flexed and sexy, but the earliest images of Vishnu in the show give exactly the opposite impression."

Vishnu seems to gain the most attention with his descent to earth in 10 different forms or avatars. #9 is through Buddha.

Holland concludes, "Once you’ve grasped the idea that love, that saving force, is the show’s true theme and have immersed yourself awhile in that thought, carry it back through the galleries. Look at everything through a lover’s eyes. Confusions may begin to lift. Wariness may begin to ebb. Images that the first time around seemed stiff and cold may start to feel warmed to life by energies coming from you don’t know where."