Essence of Beauty

   

"An awakened consciousness understands that beauty is an expression of that great law
of harmony and equilibrium that gives
order and rhythm to the universe."
 
 




~   Beauty  ~
   

                                                      
                                         by Dorje Jinpa

 

 

 

Untitled - Dorje Jinpa

 

  

      One of the greatest catastrophes to befall humanity occurred when it lost its belief in beauty!  What makes this catastrophe so great is the fact that almost no one seems to notice.  Art, the one great avenue of culture that could elevate the quality of life, that could help develop and refine the feeling side of our nature, has degenerated into entertainment, fashion, novelty and worse.  Art has lost even the idea of beauty.  This is due in part to the dogma of materialism, which believes falsely, that because beauty is ‘in the eyes of the beholder,’ it must therefore be an isolated purely subjective phenomenon relating only to the individual.

      But we must remember that the deeper aspects of the subjective universe are collective, universal and therefore have a greater reality than the outer so-called ‘objective’ universe.  The idea behind what Jung called the ‘collective sub-consciousness,’ can also be applied to the collective super-consciousness.  The academic says that because beauty is subjective it has only make-believe significance.  An awakened consciousness understands that beauty is an expression of that great law of harmony and equilibrium that gives order and rhythm to the universe.  Beauty is a universal principle.  To perceive the beautiful is to perceive a subtle truth.  Beauty, therefore, is the direct expression of the spiritual evolution of consciousness. 

      The Teacher and author of the Agni Yoga Books has indicated that whenever we perceive something that is not beautiful we should know that it is a manifestation of that which opposes spiritual evolution.  The truer the manifestation of the archetypal pattern, the more beautiful will be its appearance in form.  Therefore, when our creations conform to the archetypal pattern behind Evolution, they will be beautiful.  Likewise when we attune our consciousness to beauty, so that it fills us with joy and wonder, we are attuning ourselves to that higher truth which lies behind the manifestation of spirit in form.  The creation of beauty, therefore, aligns the artist with those spiritual forces that move all life toward perfection.  “If the creative manifestation arises from the Eternal Pattern,” writes Plato, “it will be beautiful.  If it arises from an [arbitrarily] created pattern it will not be beautiful.”1

      Perhaps the time is ripe for a radically new art movement, one that will affirm beauty as the golden mean between the evolution of consciousness and the creative manifestation of that evolution in form.  When the principles of beauty are accepted once again, as they were during the great Renaissance of Europe, science, art, and the spiritual quest will merge into one great creative endeavor for the benefit of the world.  “We shall not understand art,” says Rudolf Steiner, “as long as we do not sense in it the longing to experience the spiritual through its expression as beauty."

      Art and beauty are just as necessary to the evolution of consciousness as language.  If language is an expression of the mind, then art is an expression of the heart.  Heart and mind, which are the two archetypal aspects of the consciousness principle, must evolve in harmony together.  The problem is the mind has been given all the emphasis, in contemporary culture, while the feeling side of the consciousness is all but ignored.  This imbalance is largely due to our present education system, which develops the concrete mind but leaves the education of the feeling nature to the entertainment industry.  Thus instead of elevating and fine tuning our feeling consciousness, that it might be directed toward a higher quality of life, we allow this essentially sacred nature to be debased to the point where we can no longer recognize the harm it is causing. We are creating a race of intellectual giants, who are at the same time, emotional cripples.  A dangerous combination!
   

  The perception of beauty is not dependent upon the intellect, but rather upon a refined and expanded heart consciousness.      


     According to Plotinus, the great Greek philosopher, beauty arises in form when it corresponds in likeness to the divine idea from which it arose.2  This is why the forms of nature are more beautiful than the forms created by humanity.  The creations of nature correspond with the divine archetypal nature while the creations of human beings, for the most part, do not.  Plotinus has said, “When a good man sees in a young person a trace of a virtue, as an inner reality that is also within himself, he is delighted.  He is delighted because he perceives beauty.”

     Just as the complete archetypal pattern of an oak tree is contained in its seed, the acorn, so too the archetypal pattern of a perfected human being is contained within the seed of his spirit.  It is this divine seed that provides the fiery impulse, direction and rhythm of our evolution.  Through the clear-heart perceptions of a broadened consciousness, we can become aware of these archetypal patterns of perfection within ourselves.  The joy that arises during the first stages of illumination is due in part to the glimpse we receive of the indescribable beauty of these patterns.  These divine archetypes are not only beautiful, but as Plato has indicated, they are the very essence and standard of beauty!

      The more beautiful the appearance of a form the more closely will it correspond with spiritual truth.  To strive for beauty, then, is to move toward those conditions in our physical and psychic world that correspond with the spiritual path.  By refining our perception of beauty, we move closer to the joy of realizing that our true identity is identical with the essential nature of all life.  “The closest to perfection,” says the Teacher, “will be the path of beauty."3

 

 
Dorje - Untitled 2
 

 

      Robert Hughes, in his TV special on PBS, American Visions, described a particularly beautiful work of art by saying that in it “all opposites unite in poetic synthesis.” This statement could have been used, just as accurately, to describe a law of physics or even a high and very subtle metaphysical truth.  Beauty is the perception of the natural creative expression of essential unity.  When it is perceived that the essence of natural law is simple and beautiful we will begin to experience the beauty of higher truth.

      Once it is realized that the laws which govern art, and the laws which govern physics, and the laws which govern the natural growth of the spirit, are the same laws, we can begin to apply the discoveries made in one field to any other.  This law of universal analogy is not a new idea.  It formed the basis of Hermetic Science, “As above, so below.”  But for the past 300 years the scientific method of isolating that which is being investigated into smaller and smaller compartments, though seemingly necessary for the advancement of science, has served to hide for a time the underlying synthesis and holistic beauty of natural law.

      If poetry is the language of feeling, then the finest poets are speaking the subtle language of the heart.  The Zen poet Daito wrote:

 
When the eyes hear
And the ears see,
No doubt we will cherish
How naturally the rain drips from the eaves.                
 

      When our perceptions go beyond what is normally registered by the senses, perhaps we will begin to understand and delight in the beauty of natural law. Dante, in the opening lines of his Paradiso, says:

 
And as I looked deeply into the infinite,
I saw the scattered leaves of the universe 
Gathered together and bound by love into one volume.
 

      The evolution of consciousness is motivated primarily through the law of attraction.  It is through our attraction to the qualities of spirit that we find the upward way.  The spiritual life is attractive to a refined consciousness because it is so beautiful!

      Reverence, love, and the realization of beauty are expressions of a fiery heart.  A love for higher truth opens the door to clear perception and as understanding dawns we begin to see just how beautiful these spiritual principles really are.  This opens the door to the sacred even wider until we are literally flooded with revelation, the beauty and grandeur of which are beyond description.

      Plotinus taught that the inner vision could be awakened by first looking to all that is beautiful and virtuous in life.

 
Shut your eyes and awaken that pure inner vision, which all men possess yet few make any use of.  And what does this inner vision see?  When it is first awakened it cannot at first perceive that which is so radiant with light.  And so the soul must first be trained by looking to the beauty in the life around him, then to beautiful works, not those that the arts produce, but the work of Goodness itself.

Then look to the souls of those who produce good work.  And how is this beauty [of souls] to be perceived?  By first looking for it within yourself.  If you do not see it there, then just as a sculptor cuts away here and polishes there, till it becomes a beautiful statue, so you too must cut away the excess and straighten the crooked and clear away the dark, making it bright and never stop working on your inner statue till the divine glory of virtue shines out through you, until you see self-mastery enthroned upon its holy seat.

If you have become this, if you see it clearly and will be at home with yourself in purity, then there is nothing hindering you from becoming one with the essence of everything while yet remaining wholly yourself, nothing but pure light, not measured by dimensions, either large or small or greatly expanded, neither bounded nor unbounded but everywhere immeasurable because greater than all measure and superior to all quality…  It is necessary that the perceiver and the thing perceived be united before true vision can exist…  You must become beautiful and god-like if you wish to see God and Beauty.
 

      “Any feeling can be cultivated,” says the Teacher.  By cultivating a sense of beauty we can begin to experience a portion of those beautiful truths and spiritual laws that stand behind the laws of nature.  Only a heartfelt experience of the beautiful on earth can prepare us to experience the fiery beauty of the spiritual worlds.

      The beauty of spiritual truth is so vast that the closer we approach its central mystery, the greater is the realization that there will always be more to experience and understand.  The nature of beauty cannot, of course, be described in words beyond stating that it is experienced as a profound bliss and that behind all the inner and outer trappings of life it ever remains at the very core of our being.  The awakening heart consciousness experiences joy for it perceives the beauty and grandeur of its spiritual nature.  “The bliss of the yogi,” says the Teacher, “is ecstasy over beauty.”

      In the 1950's an American visited a monastery near Mt. Fuji, in Japan, to practice Zen.  After several weeks of nearly continuous Zazen meditation he discovered that the only way he could judge his progress was by looking to see how beautiful Mt. Fuji appeared as he walked through the monastery gardens.  Beauty is the best yardstick for measuring one’s progress on the path, not intellectual progress, but spiritual progress.  To judge our progress by whether or not we can accurately debate the subtle distinctions of a spiritual teaching can be deceptive, for often our understanding is merely intellectual.  The perception of beauty is not dependent upon the intellect, but rather upon a refined and expanded heart consciousness.  Buckminster Fuller puts it like this, “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty, but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”

      Says the Teacher, “Precisely, the heart can open the entrance into the Higher Worlds.  No special asceticism is needed.  Love, labor and beauty are within the reach of all.”

________________

Dialogues on Nature

The Ennead I.6

Fiery World III, 23

January 2014




The paintings that appear in this article are by the author.


See also The Coming Avatar, The Spiritual Hierarchy, and A Synthesis of Alchemy

 by Dorje Jinpa.