Very few in the world link religion with art or art with religion, but, in point of fact, art is much more important than an average person realizes it to be, in spite of the saying, that art is what man makes and nature is what God makes. But I would like to say that nature is what God makes as God and art is what God makes as man. The artist who has arrived at some perfection in his art, whatever be his art, will come to realize that it is not he who ever did, it is someone else who came forward at every time. And in the perfect things that the artist produces he hardly can imagine that it is produced by him, he can do nothing but bow his head in perfect humility before that unseen power and wisdom which takes his body, his heart, his brain and his eyes as its instrument.

          Whatever be that art, be it music or poetry or painting or writing or whatever manner, whenever beauty is produced it must not be thought that man produced it. It is through man that God finishes His creation. Therefore art is not only an imitation of nature, it is an improvement upon it. Therefore there is nothing that is done in this world and in Heaven which is not a divine immanence, which is not the divine creation. It is the dividing of that divine work that makes that perplexity which separates man from his Lord.

          In the first place, all things that we see in this world, all our occupations that we engage ourselves in willingly or unwillingly, that all leads us to accomplish a certain purpose. No doubt there are certain things in life in which we accomplish a greater purpose, and that can be accomplished by an inspiration from within. Art is a domain through which inspiration has a great facility to manifest. In order to become spiritual it is not necessary that man should be very religious or extra good. In order to attain to in inspiration what is necessary is love for beauty. What is art? Art is a creation of beauty, in whatever form it be created.

          As long as an artist thinks that whatever he creates in the form of art is his own creation, and as long as the artist becomes vain over his creation, he has not learned the true art. For the true art can only come by one condition, and that condition is that the artist forgets himself, he forgets himself in the vision of beauty. And there is one condition when his art can be still more valuable, and that condition is that the artist begins to recognize the divine in the art. As long as the artist has not realized it he has not touched the perfection of art. The artist in the true sense of the word is the king of a certain kingdom which is even greater than the kingdom of the earth.

          There is a story known in the East, that Farabi was a great singer, a singer who was invited to the court of the Sultan. The Sultan received him very warmly in the court, and as the singer entered, the Sultan went to the door to receive him. On coming in the drawing room the Sultan asked the singer to take his seat. "Where shall I sit?" said the singer. The Sultan said, "Sit in any place that may be fitting to you." On hearing this he took the seat of the king. No doubt, it astonished the Sultan very much, but after hearing his art he thought that even his own seat was not quite suitable. For the kingdom of the artist is everywhere, where beauty prevails. As beauty is everywhere so the kingdom of the artist is everywhere.

          But art is only a door, a door through which one can enter into a still wider area. The religions have at different times considered art as something outside. But this has been very often a kind of fanaticism on the part of religious authorities. And it is not only in the East, but in the West and the East that one finds a kind of idea existing to separate art from religion. It does not mean that all religions do it, nor does it mean that any great teacher of religion has taught it. It has only come from people who have not yet realized the beauty of religion, except its form, they have forced its simplicity on it. No one who has touched the depth of religion can ever deny the fact that religion itself is an art, an art which accomplishes the greatest thing in man's life; and for that art to be made void of beauty - there cannot be a greater error than that.

          In the first place, we can see in the ancient times in all the Hindu and Buddhist churches and pagodas there was music, there was poetry, there was sculpture, and there was painting. At the time when there were not printing presses nor could books be brought out on philosophy and religion, if one can find any scriptures expressing the ancient religious and philosophical ideas, it can be found in the ancient art. For instance, the mysticism and the religion of ancient Egypt, of which so much has been spoken, and so little has been known, if there is any sign of it to be found, it is not in a manuscript, it is found in art.

          Besides, the ideas of the ancient Sanskrit age are yet to be found in India in engravings on the carved stones, rocks, and temples. Very often travellers from the Western world go to the East in order to see how far the art has attained its perfection, but very few really know that it is not only that the art came to a certain perfection, but the art has been given as something to communicate to those who can read. Besides that, the art of ancient Greece, it is the sign and proof of their great perfection - divine wisdom. Every movement that you see in the Greek pictures, it is not only a graceful movement, but it has a meaning, and every little statue in its action denotes a great meaning if only a person can read it.

          But from this we come to learn that in order to make the work of art, and in order to be able to understand the work of art, for both intuition is necessary. And it is the very thing that today the human race seems to be losing more than in any time in the world's history. One might ask what is the reason that man has lost that intuitive faculty? It is because man has become so absorbed in material gains that he has, so to speak, become intoxicated by the earthly life, and intuition, which is his birthright and his own property, he has lost from view. It does not mean that it has gone out from him; it only means that it has become buried in his own heart.

          We are vehicles, or instruments that respond. If we respond to goodness, goodness becomes our property; if to evil we respond, then evil becomes our property; if to love we respond, then love becomes our possession; if we respond to hatred, hatred becomes our life. And so if we respond to the things of the earth so much that our whole life becomes absorbed in earthly things, then it is quite natural that we do not respond to those riches which are within us, and yet are far removed from them. Intuition is not something that a person can read in books and learn, nor is intuition a thing that one can buy and sell.

          Intuition is something which is the very self and the deepest self of man, and it can't be realized by that soberness which is desirable in life. Absence of intuition means absence of soberness. One might ask why is every person intoxicated, and what that soberness is like. I would answer, it is just like a little pool of water, when the water of that little pool is troubled, you cannot see the reflection. But when it is not troubled, then it is quiet; then you can see, when the water is clear. So is the heart of man. By the heart I do not mean the piece of flesh, by heart I mean that inner being of man which very often in the Bible is called "spirit."

          It is the calmness and quietness of that spirit which quickens that tendency of inspiration. But when the mind is troubled by worries and anxieties and responsibilities, then naturally that intuition is lost. But man asks often, "How can it be possible to leave worries and troubles out of life?" That is quite true; but at the same time if one is thinking that one cannot leave out the troubles and anxieties, one is going further and further from the Truth, the Truth which is the safety of man. Many think "If we cannot be spiritual then we shall be material; of course then we shall be more and more material, because we cannot be spiritual."

          But, really speaking, the right thing would be to strike the happy medium. If life forces one to go into material things so much, so much the more necessary is it to go into spirituality. It matters very little what religion a person claims and what faith he says he has, what way of prayers he adopts. What really matters is if he is really religious from his heart. The admission to that vehicle of happiness is by tickets. For at the door of the station they do not ask you whose son you are, what class you belong to, what are your ancestors, how much money you have.

          What they ask is for the tickets, and the same thing is there. In that field of happiness one has no entrance by saying," I belong to a very high church," or "My prayers are better than others." No, there it is not so, it is only here we hate one another by saying, "You are of a different religion, your belief is bad, my belief is good." There is no distinction there. The question is if you are sincere, if you really are seeking after Truth. Then they do not ask what channel you are coming from. They open the door; you are allowed in.

          But now coming to the question how can that art which is religion be attained. Even a religion is a kind of art. Of course, its elementary aspect makes it a religion of form. Form is the outward art, whether it is a ceremony, a ritual, a form of service, it is a form of art, no doubt. But as one goes further it is another art. Among the Sufis that art is called Akhlak Allah, which means the manner of God. The first step in life is to know and understand how to become a human being. As there are two words in the English language: man and gentleman, and there is such a vast gulf between man and a gentleman, no doubt if one bought a nice dress and put it on, he can become a gentleman very soon, but that is not what I mean.

          A true gentleman in the real sense of the word is what the word itself expresses. And what makes one gentle? Man, by nature, is just like an uncut diamond; and that diamond wants cutting in order to reflect its light fully. A man becomes a gentleman, not by becoming rich or in a high position. No, when the rough edges of his character are cut, just like a diamond, then he becomes a gentleman. And if one judged oneself, and did not judge the others, one will find how very difficult it is to become a gentleman. No doubt man keeps on in a kind of intoxication, not knowing his own faults.

          He is always busy finding fault with the others, always he is complaining that the rough edges trouble him from the others, and so the whole life goes, the life which is the greatest opportunity to rise and to become better. And that one who feels, after having the rough edges of the other hurt, that says, "the rough edges on my part must also hurt the others," when he begins to cut those rough edges, then he begins to learn the art. For other arts cannot be compared with the art of personality. The character is not born with man's birth; the character is built after coming here. But even if a person can call himself a human being, still he has not yet known that greater art still, which may be rightfully called a true religion.

          For there is another grade to pursue, and that grade is the personality of God. As soon as one seeks for the personality of God, it is different from a human personality, for in the character of man, man has to make his point of view a human point of view, but in the point of view of God, man has to make God's point of view. And it is such personalities who whenever and at whatever time they came on earth have not only taught humanity but have given an example to humanity be their own lives. Some of them known, some of them unknown, came and went away; but each one of them was accepted by some and rejected by some, none of them was accepted by the whole humanity nor rejected. But, in spite of accepting and rejecting, the Truth will prove by itself a victory. For to nothing else victory belongs.

          Victory belongs to Truth, and that victory which comes from falsehood is a false victory. The true victory only belongs to Truth, and as man more and more will probe the depth of life and its secret he will more and more realize it. Falsehood, whatever apparent success it has, has it limitations, and its end. For at every step the false person will feel falseness, and every step a person takes to falsehood he will feel his feet towards the Truth heavier and heavier. Those who will walk they will feel their feet lighter at every step they take. And it is by learning the art of life and by practising it that one is led in the path of truth, to arrive at that goal which is the longing of every soul.