This artwork is made of thousands of screws and nails driven into two wooden human forms. When I first saw it I didn’t think much of it, but on closer inspection I started to appreciate the depth of its insight. My interpretation is, first, it alludes to our essential selves being deeper than — and covered up by — our thoughts, feelings and perceptions.
And second, because there are so many nails and screws so close together — creating the illusion of looking soft and fuzzy from a distance — it is a metaphor for the way in which we as human beings perceive the world and life.
On a superficial level the pleasures of the world seem to give us everything that we could possibly desire: nourishing us physically, intellectually and creatively. We may even convince ourselves that worldly pleasures can go so far as to nourish our body, mind and soul. This delusion, however, is put to rest once and for all when we realise the limit of material pleasure; that the pleasures of body and mind can never fulfil the spirit. No matter who or what, each and every object of enjoyment in this universe is limited and temporary, and therefore can never give us the lasting and infinite happiness we all yearn for.
The comfort of modern-day life seems soft and cozy from a distance, but the closer you get to it the more mechanical, hard and impersonal it gets, just like those nails and screws. The more we desperately try to find lasting happiness in limited pleasures and comforts the more we realise the futility of trying to do so, and that to satiate our need for infinite happiness sooner or later we must to turn to the spiritual for ultimate solace.
An offshoot of this is the current digital age. Seeing the bulk of our information as digital (or digitally printed) means we subconsciously see this information as pixilated, which adversely affects our sense of wellbeing because we are constantly given the message that we are living in an artificial world. This is the same for music too. Digital music files are bereft of much of the depth of sound that we get from live music, or even previous music media such as CDs, cassettes and vinyl.
Real sweetness lies in the depths of the real world — in the depth of reality — and the ultimate reality is the spirit inherent within each and every one of us. Until we learn to quench our thirst in that universal flow we will ever-remain thirsty and the sweetness of the universal nectar will ever elude us. But sooner or later it is inevitable for each and every one of us to search for, find and realise that greatest sweetness within us and within all beings and all things. Our only destiny is the one and only universal consciousness inherent within all life’s consciousness, and the sooner we make the attempt to realise it the sooner we will attain our ultimate fulfilment. Meanwhile, by propping up the illusion of a soft and fuzzy material reality catering to our every whim and desire, we continue to deny ourselves the eternal reality that will put an end to all whim and desire.
P.S. The day after writing the above I read this by Sri Daya Mata, one of Paramahansa Yogananda’s disciples:
“It is not possible to satisfy the soul’s thirst merely by reading about truth. One must drink deep from the Fountain of Truth — God. Self-Realisation means just that: direct experience of God.” (Sri Daya Mata)