The experience of art has the potential to restore the union of the experiencer with reality dissolving the dual perception of self and other. The artistic experience is a spontaneous recognition of oneness, or as Abhinavagupta stated, a tasting of our own consciousness.
The merging of art and spirituality was extensively commented upon by Abhinavagupta, an extraordinary Kashmiri master from the tenth century. He set the ground for understanding what is called rasa or the experience of art. It takes place when the mind is totally absorbed into the object of art, in a continuous process that can only occur in the present moment and with the exclusion of everything else, making the experience highly concentrated and intense. It is a state of tasting one’s own consciousness, and it is endowed with supernatural bliss.*
When we let a work of art get into our body with no rational comment, no likes or dislikes, no analysis of styles, genres or any other classification, we experience a spontaneous joy cascading into our body. We are bathed by the direct experience of reality.
*Chauhan, Kavita, Dr., Cognition of Art: In Abhinavagupta’s Abhinavanbharti, YouTube, February 16, 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyQ1rYY13Vw