“Sat, chit, and ananda: ‘infinite being, infinite awareness, infinite bliss.’ Does the ordinary, decent, secular American aspire to that? Does he see it as within his register? There’s a special circle in Dante’s hell that is populated by souls whose only fault was that their aspirations were too low.” –Huston Smith, Parabola Magazine, Dec. 2016.
I heard this quote in a dharma talk given by Bussho Lahn on Sunday morning at the Minneapolis Zen Center. Smith’s words echoed in my mind later at the Minneapolis Institute of Art while I stood in front of this sculpture titled “Rendevous.” Created in 1981 from Indiana limestone by Apache artist Allan Houser (1914-1994), the sculpture was positioned near a colorful, woven Native American blanket.
I felt transfixed, just drinking it all in. I mean, talk about being, awareness, and bliss! At least for the moment, my aspirations were definitely not too low. And several days later, while drawing and painting the scene with pen and gouache, I experienced it all over again: sat, chit, ananda.
Art, religion, meditation, nature, music, literature...there are so many ways to raise our aspirations.