The object of creative expression through art is of primary importance to the spiritual seeker. As long as art is used as a way to enhance the vital ego, achieve recognition, fame, wealth, it has little, if any, value for spiritual practice. These objectives, in and of themselves, are part of the normal life of the mental/vital man and are expected to be the goals for those who take up these pursuits. When the individual begins, first, to treat the artistic pursuit as a means of inner development and expression, regardless of external recognition, he begins to recognise the true inner growth that is possible through such activity. At some point, this may develop further into a communion, a form of dedication, an aspiration, and an expression of the deeper sense of oneness that characterizes the spiritual consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “What you write is perfectly true, that all human greatness and fame and achievement are nothing before the greatness of the Infinite and the Eternal. There are two possible deductions from that: first that all human action has to be renounced and one should go into a cave; the other is that one should grow out of ego so that the activities of the nature may become one day consciously an action of the Infinite and Eternal. I myself never gave up poetry or other creative human activities out of tapasya; they fell into a subordinate position because the inner life became stronger and stronger slowly: nor did I really drop them, only I had so heavy a work laid upon me that I could not find time to go on. But it took me years and years to get the ego out of them or the vital absorption, but I never heard anybody say nor did it ever occur to me that that was a proof that I was not born for Yoga.”

“Every artist almost (there can be rare exceptions) has got something of the public man in him in his vital-physical parts which makes him crave for the stimulus of an audience, social applause, satisfied vanity, appreciation, fame. That must go absolutely if you want to be a yogi, — your art must be a service not of your own ego, not of anyone or anything else but solely of the Divine.”

“It is your aim to write from the Divine and for the Divine– you should then try to make all equally a pure transcription from the inner source and where the inspiration fails return upon your work so as to make the whole worthy of its origin and its object. All work done for the Divine, from poetry and art and music to carpentry or baking or sweeping a room, should be made perfect even in its smallest external detail as well as in the spirit in which it is done; for only then is it an altogether fit offering.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 12, Other Aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Art, Poetry, Music, Literature, pp. 356-361

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.