How the Arts Transform Consciousness

“Developing mastery in an art influences how we think about challenges and see the world. Every one of us has the potential to be an artist, to harness and express our innate wisdom and creativity.”


You’ve probably noticed how the most beautiful paintings, music and poetry evoke a sense of connection, peace and gratitude. Great works of art celebrate and express the beauty of Nature, that “the universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper,” as Eden Phillpotts put it.

With the best art we are reminded that we live in a Creative Universe that is itself a work of art, filled with masterpieces of rivers, stars, mountains, children, clouds and flowers. The greatest artists, poets and musicians down through time (like Picasso, Walt Whitman, Mozart and Van Gogh) have tried to communicate this message to us. That art surrounds us everywhere.

They encouraged us to look carefully, and to develop our own creative potential. When we dance, paint, sing or write poetry we are are participating in the creative life of our Universe. We are living in tune with the wisdom of Nature, expressing the songs of our hearts.

To develop your creative potential is important, because if we do not express ourselves creatively we are more easily hypnotized by the propaganda of this “consumer age” which tells us that happiness and meaning comes from the pursuit of money, from purchases and ownership of “products” created by others, not by ourselves.


This is one of the biggest threats to human happiness and freedom, a lie that too many of us have swallowed. We need to understand how the deceptive propaganda of “materialism” has infiltrated our media, governments, education systems and all modern forms of culture.  

1349907417_baronsThe “art” of marketing and deception has dominated the industrial age, where skilled “commercial” artists, engineers, politicians and scientists help manufacture “campaigns” and products to intentionally trick our senses, to get us to think the way they want, to vote a certain way, desire (rather than create) material products we often don’t need, for the benefit of wealthy investors and large corporations.

In recent decades, very creative people have intentionally designed media technologies to be addictive, encouraging human beings to spend hours sitting in front of television sets, peering into computers and cell phones, buying and consuming “manufactured” items that can harm our bodies and dull our minds.

Powerful political systems and much of the global industrial economy are rigged like Las Vegas, engineered by con artists who ignore their destructive effect on the natural environment and human communities, while feeding us fleeting pleasures, unhealthy foods, economic lies, endless wars, shiny objects, sexy images and unsatisfying experiences…

Our participation in these rigged political, cultural and materialistic games leaves us feeling empty, unworthy and unhappy, forgetful of our creative nature and own true potential, always wanting more, more, more…

Harry-Potter-and-Lord-Voldemort-harry-potter-and-lord-voldemort-7529984-1024-768It’s as if certain “dark arts” have been developed by political wizards, media witches and technology sorcerers, like something out of the Star Wars, Hunger Games, Matrix or Harry Potter stories.

Politics has definitely become a “dark” art form, where the most charismatic and financially connected excel. As with the marketing of products, they have creative teams whose job it is to deceive us, to push our buttons, so as to make us feel helpless, patriotic, fearful, angry or inspired.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes many a nation’s wealth is looted and citizens become powerless, as crime, homelessness, poverty, suicide and other social problems are left to fester and grow. Forgetful of their own power and possibility, it’s as if most people have been sleepwalking through life, slaves to those who have hoarded wealth and power.

Since the mainstream media is controlled and owned by the wealthy, their teams of creative media artists assist with this, news stations designing stories to present a specific narrative, often of good vs evil (and of course our side is always good).

thThey celebrate the heroic acts of our warriors, hiding photographs of the “collateral damage” of each new war campaign, the suicides of returning war veterans, the dead bodies of women and children who were unfortunate enough to belong to the group of fellow humans the spin doctors have labeled “the enemy.”

Cooking and food production are an art form, practiced and passed down by our ancestors across the centuries. The purpose was to create meals that were both healthy and delicious. Nowadays, large corporations dominate food production, engineering unhealthy foods packed with ingredients that our bodies crave, but that are toxic when overeaten.

Human consciousness is shaped by all of this, individuals and nations numbed and hypnotized by the scary stories, unhealthy foods and images being fed, the deceptive narratives and products designed by the creative people working for those who seek to dominate us for their own financial benefit, not ours.

sungha-jung-sungha-jung-17204895-640-426How then to break free? 

Three things can be most helpful (in my opinion), for breaking free from of the indoctrination and productions of intentionally manipulative cultural systems.

First, to take more control over our own education, for all of us to practice art forms ourselves, to encourage our children to master a variety of arts, to read what helps us grow wiser and self-direct our own learning.

Secondly, to watch carefully what we allow into our minds and bodies, to be aware of the importance of healthy food production, cooking, eating and spiritual practices, being aware of how our daily actions (and “diets” of foods and ideas) influence our thoughts and transform our consciousness.

And third, to be a part of the wider global culture of conscious creativity that is already in motion, where visual artists, musicians, dancers, poets, teachers, story tellers and young artisans are turning away from the propaganda outlets of the corporate sphere, creating a grassroots global culture (similar to what arose in the sixties) that has the potential to help others break free of toxic influences in the coming years.

Practicing arts in a spiritual way help us to break free..

In many Far Eastern countries a wide range of spiritual arts have developed over the centuries that can help people free their minds, to become more independent from cultural dogmatism, influence and manipulation.

Yoga, meditation, tea ceremony, aikido, prayer rituals and tai chi are systems of practice designed to help free consciousness, change how we think, feel and experience the world. The “theory” behind most spiritual art forms, in simplest terms, is that our personal self is a limited and socially-constructed creation, that we are in truth something more universal, deep, formless, transcendent and unchanging.

tai chiCall it awareness, buddha nature, spirit or soul, the purpose of spiritual practices and prayers is to help us open our hearts and calm our minds, aligning our consciousness with the field of awareness in our bodies, cultivating a less rigid and fearful sense of identity.

We are all potentially creative, talented and spiritual by nature, but our capacity to develop our gifts needs to be cherished and nurtured. When that happens we begin to experience ourselves as living works of art, children of God, Nature or Mother Earth, unique expressions of the larger Universe that surrounds us and has brought all that exists into being.

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 3.18.29 PMAs we grow spiritually, socially, creatively and intellectually, we can play an important role in the larger transformation of global consciousness. 

This process of directing and transforming consciousness by our own effort, rather than being manipulated by outside cultural forces (and inner fears) takes time, patience, practice and support from others.

There are many who try to use “dark” arts to brainwash and exert control over us, to sell scary stories, to hypnotize the young and manipulate our consciousness- for their benefit, not our own.

Each of us is a potential artist, a Creative Being.

Our bodies and brains are influenced in a positive way when we practice an art form in a creative and mindful manner. When practicing an art we learn how to collaborate with others, how to improve skills, how practice leads to mastery, how to solve problems by synthesizing solutions, how to create balance and harmony in our lives.

Albert_Einstein_violin - Version 3Developing mastery in an art influences how we think about challenges and see the world. Einstein, who played the violin, said: “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”

Creative intelligence is not something limited to only academic and traditionally intellectual fields. Every one of us has the potential to be an artist, to harness and express our innate wisdom and creativity.

Multiple IntelligencesAmong nobel prize winning scientists, the great majority also practiced a creative art or craft, which seemed to contribute to their scientific success. It may very well be that what we call “genius” is a kind of symphonic intelligence, where multiple modes of intelligence and skill work together creatively and harmoniously.

Almost any field of activity can be developed as an art form, when we continuously improve our skills and approach the activity creatively.

Gardening, cooking, driving, parenting, dancing, carpentry, surgery, teaching and other creative actions become pathways to mastery when we make an effort, learn from experienced teachers and artists, practice mindfully and develop our skills over time.

Our challenge now is to shake off the chains that constrain us…

Since the industrial revolution began the mechanisms of domination and control have grown more powerful. Our educational systems developed some of the same approaches of factory assembly lines, treating children like robots or machines.

1618663_713695901995575_540537023_nWhereas children in earlier ages spent their days mastering skills alongside their parents, growing food, listening to stories, building things together from scratch, nowadays our young are programmed to comply, conform and consume. They are being tested and measured, fed ideas and objects manufactured to keep them ignorant, unhealthy and in chains.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, children are natural born learners who develop best when encouraged to develop their skills and enjoy learning. Almost any art form or creative practice will help a child to break free, to align with our natural wisdom and develop their creative intelligence. If we encourage our children in this way, we increase the chances that they will grow up to be successful, loving, happy and free.

f99eb05b2688aa8e2e75ef017ea54f7aFreedom of consciousness comes when we take responsibility for guiding our own development and the education of our children, mindfully self- directing activities during our free time, showing them how to take control of what they allow into their minds and bodies, how to question (and refuse) what is fed to them from manipulators in the mainstream culture.

Each person has the potential to “self-actualize,” as Abraham Maslow put it, to create or discover what the Japanese refer to as Ikigai (生き甲斐), our  own unique purpose and meaning for being.

To do this we need to disconnect from (or limit our interactions with) time-wasting technologies, from unhealthy manufactured foods and violent cultures, to gravitate towards (and create) art, music, science, poetry, literature, spirituality and media that nourish our hearts, feed our souls, help our children and ourselves to grow healthier and wiser.

Pick up a musical instrument, join a local chorus, band or drum circle, start painting or gardening, take walks in nature, read more books, grow more of your own food, open a cafe with a group of friends, take up  yoga, start to cook more, sing more. Connect with others, find what provides deep meaning, speaks to your heart, nourishes your soul.

12187749_736843083113296_3295966280800936807_nAs more and more of us unplug from manufactured cultures and collaborate creatively together, we will be able to transform the world around us.

We each have the potential to become a part of a global shifting of paradigms, of human cultures leaving behind authoritarian systems, war and materialism, returning to greater creativity, compassion, peaceful coexistence, grassroots community, ecological balance and stability.

The Internet allows us to connect with others around the world and obtain information from a wide range of sources. Aligned with Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in the United States, many alternative news channels, video artists, bloggers and even some mainstream news stations are beginning to share the truth about corporate corruption and how powerful people have been using their wealth to rig economic and political systems.

This transformation of culture and consciousness is already happening, with artists, musicians, film makers and social activists being the change, collaborating together both online and offline, in communities around the world.

Similar (and connected) to what happened before in the 1960s, the seeds of a diverse but unified global culture have begun to flower. A new consciousness that demands an end to warfare, racism, militarism, ecological destruction and wealth imbalance. Celebrating both unity and diversity, this new wave is rising, in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, Southern Pacific and the Middle East.

As Gregg Braden put it: “We live in a world where everything is connected. We can no longer think in terms of US and THEM when it comes to the consequences of the way we live. Today its all about WE…”

By questioning and disconnecting from manipulative systems, developing our skills, being creative and connecting with others, it becomes clearer that we are each a work of art in progress. That every single human being is a unique expression of this great Universe, and that we were all born to be happy, empowered, creative and free.

~Christopher Chase~


Ikigai (生き甲斐): Reason for Being


Love the earth and sun and the animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others..

Re-examine all you have been told
in school or church or in any book,
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul;
And your very flesh shall be a great poem…

And have the richest fluency, not only in its words,
But in the silent lines of its lips and face,
And between the lashes of your eyes,
and In every motion and joint of your body.

~ Walt Whitman ~


See also:

 * Paradigms are Made for Shifting * Street Art for the Heart *  How We Participate in the Creative Life of the Universe  *  The Circle of Courage – Native American Model of Education * How Wisdom Grows – Educating Hearts & Minds  * “Dismiss Whatever Insults Your Own Soul” – Walt Whitman * Systems Thinking – Rediscovering Nature’s Paradigm * Perpetual Curse of the Warrior Mindset * Systems Thinking: Seeing How Everything is Connected * Shifting Paradigms: Aligning with the Wisdom of Nature *





About Christopher Chase

Co-creator and Admin of the Facebook pages "Tao & Zen" "Art of Learning" & "Creative Systems Thinking." Majored in Studio Art at SUNY, Oneonta. Graduated in 1993 from the Child & Adolescent Development program at Stanford University's School of Education. Since 1994, have been teaching at Seinan Gakuin University, in Fukuoka, Japan.
This entry was posted in Creative Systems Thinking, cultural creatives and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to How the Arts Transform Consciousness

  1. Pingback: How the Arts Transform Consciousness | I can ex...

  2. Val Boyko says:

    I really enjoyed this perspective Christopher. A well written piece … full of hope for a different future.
    Thank you.

  3. Pingback: How the Arts Transform Consciousness | Thinking...

  4. Pingback: How the Arts Transform Consciousness | Time is Art

  5. Pingback: How the Arts Transform Consciousness | meditati...

  6. A contemporary essay on Art , politics , and Education

  7. ashokbhatia says:

    An instructive and thought-provoking post!
    May I re-blog it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s