Artists and Twofold happiness

The great masters of the fine arts understood very well the concept of twofold happiness. They knew that an individual who has achieved happiness in this world has reached self-actualization with the gift of peak experiences. The same individual has also vanquished all human fears and desires with no further needs.

The same great artists also knew that those who have achieved happiness in this life are able to pass back and forth between the everyday world and the spiritual world. The artists knew that this ability to exist in the two worlds is only achieved by those who have reached happiness in this life – a state reached by capturing and delivery a gift for the betterment of one’s community or society.

And, the actual seizing of the gift for the common good is the action that is encouraged by the graces of Faith, Hope, and Charity. These three graces are the virtues that lead the individual from happiness in this life to happiness in the next life – with the connection being the adventure to deliver the captured boon or gift for the benefit of others.

While it impossible to depict visually what happiness in the next life looks like, the great artists come very close, as close as they can, to capturing true happiness.

Take a look at the following painting by the French painter Degas.

The ballet master is self-actualized exhibiting peak experiences. He has no further needs or desires. He exists in two worlds – the everyday and the spiritual (none of the students is looking at the master – at that moment he exists in a separate spiritual world. More importantly, he is able to deliver to the girl ballerinas his education and compassion for the study of ballet. Even the dancer in the middle of the painting is estactic – the music is not even playing at that moment captured by the painting. And we will never know if the girl completes her “en pointe” successfully (it is hidden by the girl’s tutu in the foreground): but it doesn’t matter.

The point of the painting is not the dancing ballerinas but the depiction of twofold happiness – a depiction that is at the far boundary of artistic greatest. What we are witnessing is the closest that anyone can illustrate of happiness in this life (the everyday world) and happiness in the next life (the spiritual world).

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