Great Construction

Religion and Art (Essays on Faith)

    Until the present it has been thought by many that there is not much connection between religion and art, but I do believe this way of thinking to be greatly mistaken. Indeed, the mission of art should certainly be to raise human sentiment, cause life to be more abundant, and make living pleasant as well as significant. For any person with even a rudimentary appreciation of the beautiful and artistic, to look at the flowers of spring, the turning colors of autumn, and the views of the ocean and mountains brings forth indescribable pleasure. It is no exaggeration to say that our ideal, paradise on earth, is a world of art, encapsulated by the phrase we use often, a world of truth, virtue, beauty. The arts are the expression of beauty. What could be the reason such a precept has been rather overlooked until now? Astonishing talent in the realm of beauty has been manifested as can be seen in the priests of antiquity who created paintings, sculpture, and architecture. Among these personages, the one who produced the most magnificent works as a sponsor of religious art was Prince Shotoku. When they view the architecture of the Horyu-ji temple in Nara and the paintings, sculpture within, most will probably agree with me of how wonderful it all is and that it is difficult to imagine it was created one thousand two hundred years ago.
     On the other hand, many saints and great priests have appeared in the world in order to proselytize the Law while leading a life of self-denial, in coarse garb, eating plan food, so this is probably why it came to be thought that art and religion were not closely related. Truth and virtue were manifested but not beauty.
     For that reason, I do want to encourage the arts.

Essays on Faith (Shinkō Zatsuwa), page 8, September 5, 1948
    translated by cynndd

        *             *              *

“Shūkyō to Geijutsu,” which appeared originally in the Japan Kannon Church publication Essays on Faith (Shinkō Zatsuwa),  September 5, 1948, and later while Meishu-sama still living, was reprinted in Gospels of Heaven (Tengoku no Fukuinsho), page 9, August 25, 1954, has previously appeared in translation. Citation is given below for reference.

“Religion and Art,” Religion and Art, 1955, page 9.

“Religion and Art,” The Glory, Number 026, January 10, 1960.

“Religion and Art,” Foundation of Paradise, 1984, page 248.

“Religion and Art,” A Hundred Teachings of Meishusama, no date, page 33.