Beyond Unicorns and Angels


New Age Mush is easy to spot, mainly because it offers very little variety. There are now literally hundreds of CDs available with titles like Dolphin Rainbow Suite or Angelic Symphony. The covers display the same narrow range of what’s acceptable: soft pastel colors, a unicorn, dolphins, rainbows, throw in an angel or two, and that’s it, you are an artist. Not long ago, with time to kill, I was sitting in a store that specializes in such heavenly offerings. I sipped celestial tea with organic almond milk, surrounded by crystals, angel cards, affirmations, a million kinds of smells to balance the chakras. Soothing music played in the background: soft choral harmonies, slow repetitious melodies created on synthesizers to sound like a choir of angels. Maybe the occasional tinkling bells, nothing too jarring. No messy body fluids here, please. One track gave way to another, with no perceptible change of mood. Finally, after more than an hour had passed, I went to pay for my tea. “This CD goes on a long time,” I casually remarked to the celestial tea maiden. “Oh, no,” she smiled serenely, “the machine is on auto shuffle. We have more than five hundred CDs loaded. It goes to a different CD at the end of each track.” In my hour, which had seemed like six, I had probably heard music from a dozen different albums and artists, yet they all sounded exactly the same. I left the store in search of Guns N’ Roses and a beer.

Art that tries to be spiritual attempts to draw us into the etheric realms, the higher chakras, while amputating the darker sides of life. We may feel soothed, we may feel calm and harmonious, but we rarely feel deeply connected when we choose one narrow band of living and reject the rest. And why would we want to do that? What is it that makes unicorns, dolphins, rainbows, and a soft chorus of angelic voices more attractive as the content of art than, say, despair or frustration or wild, crazy, up-all-night, dance-till-you-drop chutzpah? Or even murder? Why choose to censor reality?

In contrast, translucent art, in fact all great art, does not choose, and that is what makes it great. It opens its arms wide enough to embrace the pus and puke of the underworld, and the harmony and glitter of the heavens, and finds no real difference between them. All one taste. All equally real. And all a dream. It is this willingness to surrender to the full spectrum of reality, in its small triumphs and its dismal defeats, that gives really great art its depth. The content is secondary to the willingness to include it all, no matter what.

New Age Mush remains superficial not because there is anything wrong with angels and dolphins, but because the choice to retreat into a soothing pink corner of the playground is often made out of weakness, a flinching from meeting life in relaxed openness. Art then becomes more a carrier of that closure itself than of the celestial world it has fixated on. Dividing the world into light and dark, into the welcomed and the resisted, creates suffering simply in the enactment of the split.

Art that truly welcomes the dark and sinister as freely as the celestial, and that neither fixates nor pulls back from either one, communicates that feeling of unconditional acceptance itself, the surrender to reality that brings us home to ourselves, yet again.

This is from the #1 National Bestseller, The Translucent Revolution.  Get your copy here.

picture credit: unicorn pictures


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3 Responses to “Beyond Unicorns and Angels”

  1. Kit August 10, 2012 at 4:19 am // Reply

    thank you Arjuna..!! finally somebody said it! thank you.


  2. Douglas Raglin August 10, 2012 at 5:08 am // Reply

    Yeah This struck a cord with me, thanks for putting into words what I have felt so often.
    Within Enlightenment-awareness without transition or change-the universe of appearances and possibilities, whether of samsara or nirvana, arises with nothing to renounce or attain. In the experience of yogins who do not perceive things dualistically, the fact that things manifest without truly existing is so amazing they burst into laughter.
    Longchen Rabjam


  3. Cat August 25, 2015 at 5:16 am // Reply

    great read … the purpose of art; to raise frequency, rather than wallpaper over exactly what needs transforming most. The 2 most powerful artworks I’ve done to date are 1) the face of a woman powerfully shouting out her ancient deepest rage (it shakes my core every time I see it, still), and 2) a white horse galloping in the snow … as you so rightly say, art embraces everything, and the journey upwards and forwards in the moment is through releasing the gunk, to then dance with abandon in the pure clean fresh air.


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