The Path and the Destination

Bill Viola, artist extraordinare and seeker, was asked to select objects from the Asia Society’s collection a few years ago for a show called The Creative Eye. Here he responds to the 17th century Gandavyuha Manuscript from Nepal:

If you engage in travel you will arrive.
-Ibn Arabi (1165-1240)

When the need to know becomes stronger than the need to be, when our immediate surroundings cannot fulfill our desire to see beneath the world of appearances, when the comforts of home become oppressive and counter-productive, we have no choice but to engage in travel.

The book tells the story of a young man named Sudhana who is compelled by the very source of Wisdom to set out on a path that takes him through a series of encounters with various teachers and spiritual guides, eventually leading to enlightenment….In the end, none of his teachers have the ultimate answer for him, forcing Sudhana to continually move on and reminding us that incomplete efforts and even failures are priceless elements in an accumulated whole, and that living with a sound question is more important than possessing a temporary answer. The path is always more valuable than the destination.

3 Replies to “The Path and the Destination”

  1. “purity in mind and purpose of the artist….” is an evocative statement that counters the prevalent commercialization and commodification of art. A work that strikes a chord of wonder and recognition of subtle truths in our experience seems to be rare and also seems to me of being of such a nature that it goes beyond the decorative, entertaining or propagandistic. To me they seem to be “objects”, or created phenomena, which evoke feelings and reactions of reverence very simply and directly, and are conducive to contemplation. It is as if unseen strings bind the reciever to the artwork and establish an imprint on his soul.
    Bill Viola’s work, the little I have experienced of it, has that effect on me.
    “Dharma Rasa” a collection of Canadian poet Kuldip Gill (Nightwood Edition) also has left such a pervasive effect on me. It does seem that along the journey of a life, one comes upon such nuggets, often quite by accident, rather than by design, and this makes the journey have so much potential for joy, as well as other varied emotional responses.

  2. What you have written resonates and reiterates with my own point of view. It is comforting and reassuring to find another cotraveler, someone who also longs for art that can be felt in the body and can bring the insights that are often larger than the domain of spoken language.

    I don’t know Kuldip Gill’s work but I ordered a copy of Dharma Rasa as soon as I read your recommendation. Thank you for steering me to her.

  3. Imagine my surprise to find my book Dharma Rasa mentioned here – I hope you were able to find a copy. Dharma Rasa is a traveller and has taken on its own life after it left my hand…a joyous life that is always a surprise to me. It’s like a bird in flight and seems to land in places far and wide…I had no idea it would be mentioned by someone across the border of this continent. And, it led me to your art which is inspirational to me. I’m spending time viewing it just now…and I have some favourite pieces I go back to…Thank you for being here.

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