The Artistic Brain, the Navajo Concept of Hozho, and Kandinsky’s “Inner Necessity”

International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 23 (1):1-20 (2004)
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Abstract

Most traditional art forms around the planet are an expression of the spiritual dimension of a culture’s cosmology and the spiritual experiences of individuals. Religious art and iconography often reveal the hidden aspects of spirit as glimpsed through the filter of cultural significance. Moreover, traditional art, although often highly abstract, may actually describe sensory experiences derived in alternative states of consciousness . This article analyzes the often fuzzy concepts of “art” and “spirit” and then operationalizes them in a way that makes them useful for cross-cultural transpersonal research. The fact of the universally abstract nature of traditional art is analyzed and used as a clue to the function of art in expressing and penetrating to the spiritual domain. A “continuum of representational-associational abstraction” model is introduced and described. These concepts are then applied to the author’s experiences with Navajo art and the relation between art and the important Navajo philosophical concept of hozho . A perspective on art and spirit is developed that essentially supports Wassily Kandinsky’s contention that abstract art is the expression of an “inner necessity” of spirit. The article argues for a greater sensitivity among researchers and theorists for the sublime nature of spiritual art.be induced by very different means, including contemplative practices and chemical substances, and yet have different after-effects. Taken together, these ideas lead to the cautious conclusion that some psychedelics can induce genuine mystical experiences sometimes in some people, and that the current tendency to label these chemicals as entheogens may be appropriate

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