If you had to explain to someone, without words, what the universe looked like, or what grace looked like, how would you do it?
What about the concept of presence, or cosmic power, or the force of transformation? How would you express the understanding of the Supreme Self? Or any other spiritual teaching or practice?
Our tradition uses sacred art to communicate profound truths about the nature of reality. Through the language of visual art, we create patterns, shapes, and forms that contain not just mythological symbols from the tradition, but the wisdom and living energy of the divine power it represents.
In the same way that mantras aren’t just words describing the divine, but an actual vibrational embodiment of the divine, yantras – sacred geometric forms – are visual manifestations of divine power and grace. They contain the actual energy that they represent.
Sacred art is used throughout spiritual practice in all the dharma traditions – as icons in a temple or a home altar, as visualizations for mantra and meditation practice, as an instrument of ritual and ceremony, and as a physical touchstone of blessing and wisdom.
Sacred art reaches the space in us that is beyond words and beyond our conscious understanding. It invites us to have darśana – a profound and intimate experience of the divine, where we are both seeing and being seen by our source.
In order to awaken us to the truth and to give us a tangible and powerful experience of the divine, sacred art is made in a ritual and auspicious manner. Unlike expressive art, it follows clear guidelines and requires the artist to be in a sincere, clear, and meditative state. Making sacred art is a type of ritual sādhana, a spiritual practice.
The sacred artist is actually helping bring a manifestation of the divine into physical form. It is an awe-inspiring responsibility and a blessing for all beings. And, as you can imagine, the sacred artist needs to know more than just how to draw or paint or sculpt.
Traditionally, the sacred artist needs to understand the underlying symbolism of the iconography or pattern, the mythology and associated teachings, the mantra associated with the divine power they are invoking (and how to repeat it while making the art), an understanding of inner practice, the energy of the body, how to create a sacred space, and ritual conduct.
We are honored and delighted to invite you to study and practice the basics of sacred art in our newest course: The Shapes of Consciousness: A Gateway Into Sacred Art. This 10-week global online course is an entry and immersion into the many different components involved in creating sacred art.
In this course, you will be studying directly with the teacher, Ekabhumi Ellik, and making simple drawings while refining your awareness and performing inner spiritual practices. The course illumines the basic architecture and functionality of all sacred art, not just yantras, but also figurative icons, temple architecture, and pūjās (ritual worship altars).
You do not need to have any artistic training, skill, or talent to participate – the course is designed for spiritual practitioners who want to go deeper inside and connect with divine power and wisdom. Because sacred art is such an integral aspect of our entire tradition, this course is also a mandatory prerequisite for all Living Sanskrit students who want to participate in intermediate and advanced study.
This series will deepen more than just your understanding and experience of sacred art. You will also learn about the principles of effective ritual conduct and how to create a clear and sacred energetic space within yourself and your environment. And, you will practice cultivating your curiosity, focus, enthusiasm, and ability to see the world with fresh eyes.