ON RASTA ART

” “Art.” By “art” is meant the ability to perceive the things of God and to be sensitively aware of the sacred in life; it is a man’s inherent ability to see through the apparent to the real, to separate the false from the true, and to discern the good; but not only this. It is also, and essentially, the power of communicating knowledge, and a knowledge which is basically neither the learning from books nor sheer doctrine, but a mystical experience. Elders of the movement say that they will only accept a man with this “art.” “Not every man with a beard is a Rasta- man-We take a man with art. ” In a sense, also, “art” means the art of understanding the minds of other men. This is something inborn, which cannot be acquired by study and good works if it is not already there, but which can be sharpened by discussion with right- minded people and by ritual observance. A man may discover it in himself after living the major part of his life in dis- solute unawareness. It was there all the time, but he did not know it. The more men can learn about themselves and their natures the more they can draw out this skill and develop it. When a man is expounding doctrine movingly, or praising God in powerful fashion, his listeners call out “Art I Art I Mighty art I Ja Rastafari I” Nothing can make up for the absence of art. In the words of one Rasta informant, “Some have all the zeal of God, but not the knowledge.”

Found in Doctrine,  from: Protest and Mysticisim: The Rastafari Cult of Jamaica

Author: Sheila Kitzinger
Source: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Autumn, 1969)

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