The Artist Is an Instrument of God

We are so conditioned to effort in daily living that it’s impossible for us to imagine something to be effortless. We approach meditation in the same manner we approach other things like learning a skill. Mastering a skill requires effort, and the more effort you put in, the better you become at that skill. It’s true that you cannot become a good artist without putting in the work.

Last week I signed up for singing lessons, and the first thing my teacher told me was that without practice, you cannot become a good singer. I agree. However, even the effort in mastering a skill can become effortless if it is approached with a different attitude. And the attitude is that I practice my art for the peace it gives me; for the love of it, rather than to “become” better.

In other words, I’m not practicing the art. The art is being practiced through me. It is an expression of the infinite energy. I feel gratitude that this mind-body organism has had the opportunity to be the instrument of God – the ONE that lights within you as your own consciousness, the experience of aliveness, and not a powerful separate entity in manifestation sitting up in high heavens.

I can certainly learn and draw inspiration from accomplished artists, but I don’t desire to become like them. I’m content being myself. There is a sense of surrender to divinity where one leaves attachment to a preferred outcome. When you’re concerned with an outcome like fame, money, recognition, adulation, and so on, you separate yourself from the divinity within.

Even if you do accomplish greatness through forced effort, you are likely to remain troubled. So many talented artists and celebrities experience debilitating depression, loneliness, anxiety, and other psychological ailments. The reason for suffering is the sense of personal identification that believes itself to be the “doer” of actions. In such cases, there’s always a void (empty feeling) within that haunts the individual even after great success.

We live in times where individuality is celebrated and given more importance. It is strengthened and reinforced with alternating episodes of reward and punishment, where episodes of punishment are usually more than the rewards. It becomes somewhat of an addiction, like the slot machine in a casino. I think it’s called variable intermittent rewards.

No reward or a reward not matching one’s expectation is punishment for the ego-mind. “Only if I work harder,” “I’m not good enough,” “I have always been a failure,” “I don’t deserve success,” and it goes on and on. It’s like repeating negative affirmations all the time. Unfortunately, unable to accept what-is, a majority of us do that. The restlessness, impatience, and anxiety are all “me.”

For example, say one of your videos, songs, articles, or performances goes viral, and people put you on cloud nine. Now what? You wish to repeat your previous success, but it is not going to happen every time. The same people will be quick to pull you down and throw you in the mud. But the illusion “me” cannot accept this defeat. It comes up with rationalizations like “I will show them who I really am,” “You haven’t seen the last of me,” “I will bounce back with thunder,” etc.

All such internal dialogues are a waste of energy. The energy that can otherwise be channeled for creative pursuits. The concern with becoming and unbecoming becomes our biggest roadblock to the satisfaction of art and hinders natural progression. Therefore, one cannot become a true artist without self-knowledge.

While there is nothing wrong with experiencing pleasure and being appreciated for one’s work, taking ownership of talents, gifts, and successes, we create pride and arrogance. And at the same time, by taking ownership of failures, we create guilt, shame, and blame. Both are suffering.

Freedom is the realization that only God is the doer and not the individual. The individual is only an instrument fulfilling his or her destiny. This attitude makes our effort effortless by freeing us from the thought of consequences. It enables us to move ahead in our respective journeys, and the art or work itself becomes a meditation.

This “me” is the greatest obstruction to our creative expressions. It remains concerned with what-if, where the reality is what-is. It is precisely why even some of the most accomplished people and overachievers experience debilitating depression and anxiety. They need constant reassurances and validations. They fear becoming irrelevant and unknown. Out of hundreds of successes, one failure is enough to bring them down.

The thinking mind keeps us anxiously hooked on the likes and comments on social media or seeking validation in other forms, even when we know we have no control over these things. There is another popular piece of advice, “Work smarter, not harder. Reinvent yourself.” How smart do you think you are?

It is a separate entity with its sense of personal doership that thinks it can outdo others by being smarter. It is a fact that people who think they are smart are actually very average or even poor at their craft. We limit ourselves to petty thinking and comparisons. Comparison introduces separation, and separation is suffering. Every instrument is unique and gifted. Why compare and suffer?

Rather than saying reinvent yourself, why can’t we just be our authentic selves – the way the creator made us, and leave the reinvention to God? The impersonal energy operating through you will guide you at each and every step. If you are receptive, the universe will give you what is needed for “you.” In fact, it will open you to endless possibilities.

Therefore, I don’t impose goals on myself but go with the natural flow of things. I don’t compare myself with anyone or even myself. I simply perform and lose myself in the performance rather than worrying about my progress. Betterment and progression are something I leave to God. I just enjoy myself. Listen to a Sufi mystic singing; he becomes one with the divine. He is not concerned with people and opinions. He does not seek validation. He uses his mind and body in selfless service to the divine.

We all are artists playing our respective roles in the play called Life. No matter what you think about yourself, you are an artist – a marvel of God’s creation. The problem is that we remain so fixated on our prevalent beliefs and ideas that we never explore our creative center. Our talents remain trapped in our subconscious, which is the storehouse of infinite potential.

Out of fear, we obstruct the divine energy to express itself. These obstructions give rise to what are known as energetic blocks that further cause psychosomatic ailments. Of course, we all have our respective destinies, but we shouldn’t be afraid to explore.

When the sense of personal identification dissolves, there is no thinking about becoming or unbecoming anything. There is only complete immersion in the art or work, where the artist becomes the art. That brings true satisfaction.

The wave in the ocean thinks it can become better by becoming a bigger wave and crushing other waves, but it cannot avoid its final destination, which is dissolving in the ocean. The dissolution is pure bliss because then we become one with God, and our art or work, of any nature, can be an opportunity for that experience while we are alive.

As an instrument of God, all we can do is surrender to the will of universal energy. That is pure devotion. Once you accept this totally, there will be no concern about the outcome or what others think. The least resistance we offer to the energy, the happier we are.

Live Meditation (Announcement)

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Jagjot Singh
Jagjot Singh

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