The Meaning of Knowledge and Insights in Our Life

Art is important aspect of human life. Art gives people inspiration, helps them to pass feelings and ideas and makes their life beautiful. I used to treat art like a form of expression which helps people to realize their fantasies and emotions. But after I discovered the ancient art of Oriental countries I found art that the art may become the form to pass philosophical ideas and it can become the means to pass knowledge and deepest realizations about the world. I remember one work of art which had a deep impact on my perfection of art and in my outlook.

When I saw the figure of Dancing Shiva I was amazed by its beautiful looks and deep philosophical meaning of the figure. Dancing Shiva or Nataraja  belongs to the Chola period of Indian Art. Shiva Nataraja is one of the most popular deities in India. Shiva belongs to three main gods of Hinduism, he presents the aspect of destruction and transformation in the Trimurti- three main gods of Hinduism. The figure of Dancing Shiva or Nataraja presents basic philosophical ideas of Hinduism. Art and religion were closely interconnected in Ancient India.

Religion had major impact on the life of Indian people and this was reflected in all forms of Indian art including sculpture. Shiva Nataraja not only presents a wonderful work of sculpture, but also delivers a religious message to people who can understand it. When I saw this sculpture of the first time I was really amazed how every detail, every gesture may be so informative and contain the entire philosophical concept or idea. The sculpture of Dancing Shiva presents the basic ideas of Hinduism. Hinduism is based on the idea of liberation when personal soul, Atman, reaches liberations and unites the Ultimate soul, or Brahman. Hindu people want to leave the circle of lives and deaths called samsara and reach liberation nirvana. All these ideas are reflected in the figure of dancing Shiva. In the sculpture of Nataraja Shiva is depicted dancing in the fire circle. All details of the sculpture have very important meaning.  All together they can give deep insight into the religious system of ancient India. There is a legend which explains the meaning of Dancing Shiva. According to this legend once Shiva visited forests where heretical sages lived. Shiva wanted to challenged them and prove the wrongfulness of their knowledge. Soon the fiht started. First Shiva won a tiger. The skin of the tiger is wrapped over the Shiva’s waist on the sculpture. After this Shiva won a terrible snake and on the sculpture the snake wraps Shiva’s neck. The last challenge  appeared as an ugly monster. On the sculpture it is depicted as a dwarf under Shiva’s feet.

All there figures symbolize different stages of self perfection and different hardships which each person has to overcome on the way to liberation. Shiva’s figure is also full of symbolism. His eternal dance is a way to get a Divine experience and feel union with the entire Universe. The dance of Shiva demonstrates the union of the processes of creation and destruction. These processes have cyclic nature and they are important to keep the balance in the Universe and the sculpture demonstrates this idea in a symbolic way. The figure of Shiva presents the metaphors of time and Eternity. When I saw the figure of Dancing Shiva for the first time I was amazed by the quality of sculptor work. When I found out about the deep symbolical meaning of the each part of the figure I became even more fascinated. I realized how art can transmit important message to the people and how it can become the way to expand the limits of our understanding of the world around us.

The ideas of ancient Chinese art Feng Shuj had deep meaning on my vision of design. Feng Shuj presents different methods which teach how to reach comfort  and live in harmony with everything which surrounds us. In reality that is the main aim of the designer of the interior, to my mind. That is the reason Feng Shuj had such a deep impression on my outlook. I was really amazed to see how ancient people put much time and effort in order to investigate they place they were going to live. I can not state that I like all methods and means of Feng Shuj but I definitely like the approach used in it. In ancient China and in some other Oriental countries they treated space like a living creature and the man was supposed to find the way to live in peace with this creature. The idea of conscious space which bring use to people who dwell in it gave me a lot of new understanding according to may profession. I found out that Chinese and all other adherents of Feng Shuj believe that it can bring one third of success people reach in their lives. These means that our live is one-third conditioned by the things which surround us. Since designers are the people who created the interior for other people they possess wonderful ability to bring use and bring positive influence to lives of other people. I believe that despite methods may differ the core idea will be the same. Conscious approach to the work of designer may help to choose the best variants which will not only look beautiful and interesting, but also will bring use to people who will live there. Chinese knew this centuries ago and I was really impressed by this information when discovered it for myself.  In Feng Shuj interior is the instrument to influence human luck. Good setting can bring positive changes into the life of people who live in this house. I believe that this knowledge may bring use to me and to people I am going to work with. Latest research prove that things which surround us influence our conscious and subconscious and thus influence our life. This means that latest researches prove facts discovered many centuries ago by the masters of Feng Shuj. This information had big influence on my attitude to my profession and the role of designer in general. I would like to expand my knowledge in this field and I want to combine information I already know with the idea of conscious space which can be the source of harmony and good luck. I think that despite the methods may differ the main approach to the role of designer will be the same. These ideas gave me a lot of stimuli in my profession and had big influence on my outlook.

Plato, an outstanding ancient philosopher gave his own concept of insight and he expressed this concept in his famous works. Plato’s philosophical credo is based on the theory of Forms and Ideas. According to this theory we can not perceive true reality with our senses.

Reality we see not is only a dim reflection of true and higher reality, which exists as the  Realm of Ideas. Human senses can not perceive this kind of reality and we see only the way it is reflected on our Realm of Forms.

Plato uses the allegory of the cave to explain the mechanism of human perception. According to this allegory Plato compares all people to prisoners who live in the cave and can not even turn their heads. They can see only the wall of the cave. There is a fire set in front of them.

Some person who sits behind the prisoners holds the puppets so that their shadows are reflected on the wall behind the prisoners. So, the prisoners can not see real objects, they can see only the reflections of the puppets, their shadows on the wall. This way prisoners do not see real objects and do not hear them. They see only their reflection on the wall and can listen only to the echo of their words. The prisoners don’t know about real objects and they perceive their shadows as only true reality. They believe that reflections they see on the wall are real objects since they know nothing about the Realm of Ideas. The prisoners think that they see the objects of the world but in reality they see nothing but shadows. As states Plaot: And if they could talk to one another, don’t you think they’d suppose that the names they used applied to the things they see passing before them? (Plato, 515b2). This way any perception would be wrong because prisoners can try to perceive and explain only shadows since they can not see real objects.

This happens to all people because all of them can be compared to prisoners who do not know other Realm.

If the prisoners are realized and are able to turn their heads, they will be able to see real objects and to understand that before they could see only shadows. Such new realization would be insight and would let them to realize their previous era and to see the truth.

Plato gives hints which help people to understand the truth about reality. In his allegory the prisoners are realized and after this they become able to turn their heads. Plato wants other people to understand their positions as prisoners and to turn their head to the source of the shadows. This can be done with the help of our minds. Our thinking mechanisms can become that tool which would let us to understand the difference between true reality and shadows we see. First people should realize that they do not perceive true reality but rather see its reflection. This would be insight into the true knowledge which would help people to pass to true knowledge. After they realize their contemporary position they will be able to pass to the source of ultimate reality and after they will be able to see true objects, not only their shadows. Insight or true knowledge will become available to people and they will get the opportunity to grasp the reality as it is, not in reflection.

Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament presents religious view on the knowledge and human destination. The concept of knowledge is presented in Genesis through the story about Adam and Eve’s expel from the Garden of Eden. Genesis describes the creation of the world and the first man and woman. Genesis also tells a story of expel from the garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve have perfect life in Eden. They were happy and knew no fear and pain. God gave them exact instruction about their live. But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die (Genesis).  They had no problem till serpent proposed them to try the fruit from the tree of knowledge: When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis) Eve tried the fruit and proposed it to her husband. After God found out about this he became really furious and made Adam and Even leave the Garden of Eden. In Genesis the knowledge is depicted as a privilege of God and those who try to touch sacred knowledge become severely punished. Adam and Eve live in innocence under protection of God. They had all benefits of life in Paradise, they knew no fear and pain, they were immortal but they did not have the freedom of choice. The fruit from the tree of knowledge made them mortal, they experienced suffering and pain but they got free will. Knowledge in Genesis is depicted as a source of problem. In Christianity desire to know something against the will of God is treated like something sinful. All people now have to pay for the sin of Eve, who tasted the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Obedience to the will of God is a very important quality in Christianity. Knowledge is not as important as obedience and this idea is repeated for several times in Genesis. God does not want people to be clever and wit, he only wants them to be obedient to his will. In contrast to Oriental religions, knowledge is not treated like something good in Christianity. Knowledge in Genesis is limited by the perception of God’s will. Only those who know the will of God and follow it possess right knowledge. In Oriental religions, Hinduism in particular, ignorance is treated as the worst sin. The situation is completely different in Christianity where Adam and Eve are punished for the attempt to reach knowledge. In Genesis there are many passages where true knowledge is regarded as the understanding the will of God. Only those who follow the will of God may be able to get his mercy and to get his bliss. The notion of knowledge is totally different from the notion of knowledge in the most Oriental religion, where knowledge is regarded as a desire to understand the Universe and to understand the main processes which take place in the Universe. Christianity insists on the obedience and does not pay much attention to knowledge as long as people follow the will of God.

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