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THE IMPORTANCE OF ART

 

These days, many people seem to think that everything can be handled by science. But there are a certain number of important things which cannot be controlled by scientists, however hard they may try. Surprisingly few individuais seem to realize this.

What I have in mind primarily is art. I am not saying that there is no element of science in art. However, all creative fields of expression are based not only on intelligence, intent and effort, but also on creative genius; this includes paintings, sculptures, music, dancing, literature, plays, motion pictures and crafts.

As everybody knows, art is extremely important in human society. If there were no art the world would be as dry and uninteresting as a cold prison built of stone. For example, whenever I walk along the streets a thought comes into my mind: What if there were no roadside trees, gardens, shrubbery? What if there were no residences, stores, big buildings? What if instead the streets were lined with straight gray walls like those of a prison? Most of us would not be able to bear walking even a few blocks! The sights of houses with their different colors lining the streets; of the different features of people who are walking along the streets, with their varying expressions, attires, and ways of walking the young people dressed in the height of fashion, elderly people in somber clothes, individuals who seem to have just come from outlying areas, each with a certain unique flavor that arouses our interest. Because of the infinite vaneties of objects that catch our eyes, we can walk along without becoming bored.

When we leave the metropolitan area and take a trip into the country by train or bus, the scenery of the countryside through the windows the mountains, rivers, trees and wildflowers is sufficient to prevent any weariness. The change of scenery according to the change of season, too, helps to enrich our feelings. Indeed, the world is a huge work of art, created by both Nature and man, which makes life worth living.

When we think in this way, we come to realize that science really is a part of art in that it is doing a supplementary work; science has developed the processes by which man produces beauty in the more mundane objects. It is quite clear that art is inseparably related to and important in all parts of man's life. For this reason, our church has a much greater interest in fine arts than is usual in most religious groups, and it fosters them to an outstanding degree.

We must be aware, however, that there are higher and lower grades of art. Though equally classified as art, low-grade works help to debase character; they can even lead him to depravity. Thus, we should be cautious about such things. Creative works should always be of very high quality which can elevate man's feelings while he enjoys and appreciates them.

lt is easy to speak about this, but are there any really good public art centers in Japan? We can find scarcely any worth mentioning, as everybody knows. So that we may help to correct this fault, we are now constructing a miniature paradise that includes an art museum.

I believe the old saying, "Religion is the mother of art," expresses the true mission of spiritual work.

 

April 30th, 1952

 


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