christopher vasey naturopathe
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The Nature of Beauty

In our society today, as we strive for rationality, profit and return we tend to forget about true beauty and even consider it to be somewhat of a luxury. The short-term fashion trends in clothing, in the arts and in architecture, the confusion of styles dominating the present time, all puts one’s sense of beauty to the test. What is in fact truly beautiful? What is beauty in the first place? What rightful place should it occupy in our lives? Of what use is it to us human beings?

What makes a work of art beautiful?

Although it is easy for each and every one of us to say that something is beautiful, at the same time it is much more difficult to explain why we find it beautiful. This can even lead to disagreements when we try to justify the beauty of a work of art with someone who does not share our opinion. After all, what is the valid criterion for evaluating the beauty of a painting, an object or monument? Is the perception of beauty something that is purely subjective and unexplainable?

Confronted with this question for a long time, human beings have researched the subject, leading to the discovery of a number of criteria and rules on which to base the beauty of artistic productions.

In paintings, for example, the colours, the shades and forms must correspond to the rules of harmony. The composition of the painting is subject to the rule of the golden section, which allows the surface of a painting to be divided up harmoniously for beauty and balance. This same rule is also applied to architecture. In music, composers must take into account the rules used in producing tonality and chord, as well as sequencing chords in order to produce a harmonious sound.

It is important to note, however, that most people are not aware of these rules, yet in spite of this are able to discern beauty. Where does this come from? Could our sense of beauty be innate? And if this is the case, where then within us is this centre that can perceive beauty?

What within us is capable of perceiving beauty?

Before going any further, let us establish a clear distinction between the actual ego of the human being, the non-material spirit and the instrument at our disposal for the duration of our incarnation here on earth in the flesh: the brain. The distinction between the spirit and the brain is the key that allows us to answer a multitude of questions that preoccupy us as human beings. As we are about to see, it applies equally here to the sense of beauty. The spirit allows us to have a wide and overall view, while the intellect on the other hand, which stems from the brain, works in an analytical fashion. It processes information in sequence, which is why we cannot think about two things at once. Also, the spirit can sense, can be inspired, can have intuitions, whereas the intellectual faculties can only think, dissect and reason.

Therefore, beauty, which is a complex connection between different parts of a whole, a connection which enables these parts to work towards the final effect of a harmonious combination, is something much too vast to be grasped by the analytical faculties of our intellect which is only capable of processing one thing at a time. It is therefore not our intellect, but our spirit, which perceives beauty.

It is, moreover, noteworthy to mention that the definitions of beauty given in dictionaries, more often than not refer to the beauty we perceive within rather than the rules applied to the perception of beauty. Beauty is what awakens admiration and satisfaction deep inside of us , while ugliness produces a disagreeable feeling and can even go so far as to arouse disgust in us. It is clear that the brain, comparable to a computer in the manner in which it functions, is incapable of feeling admiration or disgust. Only something such as the living human spirit is capable of experiencing this.

The spirit within is that which is able to distinguish beauty. But where does beauty come from in the first place?

According to materialists, creation and all it contains arose out of chaos and is the result of random chance. However, upon studying how creation actually works in order to reap all of its benefits, they discovered that unchanging and immutable laws ruled it: the laws of chemistry, of physics, of biology…and of beauty.

Now, the mere existence of these laws proves that creation cannot be the result of random chance. This presents an impossible contradiction between the theory of chance governing creation and at the same time being subject to definite laws that are responsible for a constant natural order. Would it then not be more obvious to say that an intelligent power had organised creation with foresight and in a sensible and logical manner and that this intelligent power is the Creator Himself? Looking at it from this perspective has, at least, the merit of rendering the beauty in creation that surrounds us more comprehensible.

In fact everything that is connected with nature and is therefore the work of God, is indeed beautiful. There is scarcely to be found a landscape without its own beauty and greatness. All of the rocks, the flowers and the plants as well as every animal each possess their own beauty. Better still, this beauty persists throughout all the constant transformations that take place in nature. Every season is beautiful. Animals are just as beautiful when they are born as when the reach maturity. The leaves on the trees are likewise just as beautiful when they are all folded and pale in their buds, when they are green in the summer or again red and yellow in the fall!

Where does beauty come from we have asked ourselves? Beauty flows from the Creator. Could, what issues from His Hand, be anything but beautiful? Where does ugliness come from? If everything God creates is beautiful, where then does ugliness come from? Let us first of all take a look at the things that we consider to be unpleasant. Certain cities or buildings are unattractive. There are also machines, clothing attire and other such objects resulting from human activity that are unsightly. Some paintings, works of art and music pieces lack harmony and good taste. But words, expressions and attitudes can be displeasing also, just as some people are physically or inwardly without beauty.

At a closer glance, this list however, contains only elements that can be linked with human beings. Where does this come from since man too was created by God? Should not he himself, as well as all he does, be beautiful as is displayed in nature? It would invariably be the case if man belonged directly to nature, the latter being entirely governed by the laws put into it by the Creator and therefore able to function solely within these laws and produce, among other things, beauty, which is inherent in these laws.

However, the human being does not belong to nature but has his origin in the spiritual realm and as such is endowed with a free will. The free will is the capability of the spirit that allows it to make free, uninfluenced decisions. Thus he has the ability to make his own decisions and thereby the choice to act according to the laws of creation which, among others, conform to the law of beauty or he can choose to act contrary to these laws. Moreover, the goal of the human spirit’s existence involves learning to voluntarily adjust itself to these laws once it has become familiar with them and recognized their validity.

The existence of free will, a characteristic unique to the human spirit and not to be found among mineral or plant life, not even in animals, explains why human beings are responsible for ugly forms. It always results from our disrespect for the laws, a disrespect that would be impossible if it were not for erring human beings.

Beauty comes from above

The fact that beauty is present throughout nature and that we can perceive it with our physical senses of sight and sound could lead us to think that beauty is connected only to matter. This however, is not the case.

Indeed, in the same way human beings were created in the likeness of a superior being, so too the nature that surrounds us is but a faint replica of planes more luminous and beautiful- Paradise- situated higher up in creation. A faint replica, for it is understandable that everything in closer proximity to the Creator, be it planes or beings, is also more luminous and beautiful than that which is further removed, as with the earth. Deep down human beings have always possessed knowledge of the heavenly origins of beauty. It is revealed unconsciously in their expressions when they speak of the beauty of music, a voice, a painting or a poem as being «heavenly or divine».

The heavenly origins of beauty are also proved when we reflect on artistic inspiration necessary in creating masterpieces. Contrary to technical accomplishments produced only through conforming to what is available in the material world- therefore here belowartists in quest of inspiration open up to something from above; in former times known as the muses or today as the «creative breath». But either or, inspiration comes from above. Also, those who are endowed in a particularly visible manner, such as Mozart for example, are said to be «blessed by the gods».

Beauty is often associated with the higher values of goodness and righteousness as well, values that transcend this earth. These terms are frequently replaced, for instance, in the expression «it is not nice to tell lies» which in reality means the same thing as saying « it is not good or righteous to lie».

One of the characteristics of beauty is that we never tire of it. There is, in fact, a big difference between true beauty that touches the spirit and pleasantness, which serves to flatter or stroke the intellect. A «heavenly» piece of music remains beautiful even if we have known it for years. Moreover, our appreciation of its harmonious subtleties only increases with time. Some garden-variety melodies or songs, on the other hand, last only in passing, a sign of the social or pop culture of the moment. These are works that do not endure and are quickly replaced by others.

The same holds true for paintings, sculptures and monuments. Some are «eternal works» which stand the test of time and touch all who experience them while other works are fleeting and transient. The eternal nature of these particular works helps us in understanding why they touch our spirit. They remind the spirit of the beauty of its original home in the spiritual plane even though they simply mirror Paradise and are not an exact replica of it.

The beauty of nature, being equally eternal and unchanging differs, however, with the lasting works produced by human beings. The latter possesses something more which is not to be found in nature: spirituality. This can easily be observed when we compare an actual landscape to a painting of it. The painting is not an exact reproduction of nature as perhaps a photograph could be, but rather an interpretation of that which touched a human spirit and who sought to express it.

Whenever human beings spiritualise their artistic works, rendering them immortal, they touch upon laws and values that are shared by all human spirits and which stem from the spiritual sphere. Therefore, eternal works are not the prerogative of a race, a nation or a civilization because all human beings originate in the spiritual plane regardless of skin colour or nationality.

Beauty and Spiritual Development

Genuine beauty can only be grasped by the spirit and our sense of beauty stands in direct connection with our spiritual maturity. Therefore it naturally varies from one person to the next. In fact, the more developed a spirit is, or in other words, the more it has unfolded the spiritual capabilities placed in it by the Creator, the more it becomes perceptive and open towards that which comes from above. This also includes beauty. Not only does the spirit excel in recognizing genuine beauty but appreciates it that much more and indeed also needs it.

Spiritual development is a dynamic process. It necessitates internal changes and therefore equally brings about changes in the manner we appreciate beauty. This can be observed in a man’s life when, due to an inward transformation, he suddenly sees and grasps all the beauty that has always surrounded him but was unable to notice up until this point.

The beauty in nature stands essentially the same and unchanging as it has always been. What changes is the manner in which we perceive it. Hence, it is quite normal that what two people consider beautiful may differ. Everybody experiences the world in accordance with his or her own inner development. It cannot be otherwise. Therefore, we inevitably appreciate things differently from one another and are in no position to judge.

A reasonably matured spirit would never live in unpleasant surroundings. He would transform it into something more harmonious. Does this then imply that beauty is reserved only for the privileged that can afford beautiful places and extravagant objects? Not at all! The beauty of a home can just as well be accomplished with the simplest of objects as with costly artwork and expensive furnishings. Simplicity is a characteristic of beauty. When we are touched by something pure and beautiful do we then not say it was simply beautiful?

Beauty is often considered a luxury or non-essential to human beings. However, beauty is useful, especially here on earth. In fact, if it is true that the evolving spirit becomes increasingly aware of beauty then the opposite holds true as well. Cultivating a sense of beauty in all aspects of our lives- in the way we carry ourselves, our manner of speech and dress, the way we furnish our homes, etc… contributes to the spirit’s development and helps its spiritual ascent.

To seek and to achieve a sense of beauty which advances our spiritual maturity is an aspect of spirituality that is often overlooked and forgotten. Christopher Vasey

 

Article based on the knowledge of the Grail Message