The halo or nimbus.  You have no doubt seen these depicted in art.  These symbols are found in ancient and modern Christian, Buddhist and Hindu art.  Perhaps these are also found in the art of other religions as well (Sikh, Jain, Bahai, Muslim, Jewish). 

Is the halo or nimbus signifying spiritual development, or, is the halo depicted in religious art (mosaics, frescoes, in bas reliefs on the stone walls of caves (as in India), and even in some sculptures) an attempt to convey the aura of the person, the spiritual radiance or spiritual energy emanating from a spiritually advance person?  Perhaps both the signifying of advanced spirituality and capturing the radiating spiritual energy are intended.  Holiness is linked to spiritual growth and advancement and to love.

In Hinduism or Vedic philosophy, nescience, or spiritual ignorance/darkness, is to be avoided.  We are to strive towards the light of higher consciousness and overcome or outgrow our infantile spiritual ignorance.  (Atheism is spiritual ignorance and immaturity.)

We are ultimately beings of light.  To uncover that light, to dwell within that light, and to act from that heightened and enlightened perspective, we must evolve spiritually to a higher level of consciousness.  Then, we can ourselves be beacons of light and truth and love to those around us.  (It seems to me, that the lazy man’s way does not work.  It must be an affront to God when we insist He do our work for us.  We need to make the effort ourselves and then God will aid us.)

We are sparks of consciousness that come from God.  Whether you believe that we were created in the image and likeness of God, or you believe that we are part of the Lord’s marginal energy (as in Hinduism), you recognize that our spiritual nature is what links us to God.

examples from religious art

One example of the halo in religious art is seen in this painting of Jesus and His mother, Mary.  (In a rather rarely used approach or artistic device, the artist uses the halo to add titles for Mary and Jesus in Latin.)  We do fondly remember the art history courses we took at university many years ago.

 

 

(And, yes, we are well aware that there are many people today who deny Christ’s divinity and claim that He was just one of many avatars through the ages, or that He was merely a highly spiritually developed human and nothing more.  Such views and a discussion of these are beyond the scope of today’s essay.)

In an impressive example from modern Hindu art, we see Lord Krishna as residing within each and every atom in the material universe.  The Lord permeates His creation, yes, but also has a supremely transcendant personality and stands above and apart from His creation, in addition to being resident in each person’s heart or soul.  Thus, one must be careful in concluding that devotees of Krishna are mere pantheists; they are not.

 

 

other related thoughts

These are questions that each of us must evaluate in the privacy of our own thoughts.  But, people ought to ask spiritual questions and not merely go through life “eating, sleeping, mating and defending” as in the life of an animal.  (Srila Prabhupada, founder of ISKCON (1896 – 1977), was fond of warning his readers against living their lives at the animal level of consciousness.  We credit him for the eating, sleeping . . . .  quote above.)

As difficult as it is in these terrible and spiritually dark times, please strive to live a loving and constructive life.  See the immortal soul or spirit in the other (independent of the other’s physical appearance or condition).

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