It was one of the most influential philosophers of all time, Dostoevsky, who said in his novel ‘The Idiot’ that beauty will save the world. For Dostoevsky, “beauty” transcends aesthetics, and is what inspires the best in us, our aspirations for what is good and true, and what connects us to each other.
Beauty is underrated in today’s world and we seldom stop and get a real sense of it. It’s in the banana, every smile and even in the swirl of a tea cup. It’s in the breeze, the clouds, the birds and also in the rays of sunshine. It’s in blades of grass and can be seen within the twinkling of an eye or the wag of a tail. Beauty is even in the beast.
Beauty savages and softens our hardened exteriors. It melts away the defences and creates cracks through which the power of beauty pervasively invades our souls… beauty, as we are detailing it here, is not really about all of those marvellous and wonderful things. It is about the beauty it creates within us. This kind of beauty I speak of here creates passionate and living light in dark places.Mark L Lockwood
Seldom do we sense this beauty with anything more than the 5 senses. Yet, these simple things of beauty can deeply be felt when we experience them with our extrasensory abilities; that is our intuitive ability to connect with them contemplatively and recognise their beauty is within us as well – within all things, and that there is divine unity in all the diversity we can perceive. Not surprisingly in the book of Genesis‘s opening chapter the refrain so quietly insistent states, “And God saw that it was good,” contains a Hebrew word which may be translated either as good or as beautiful. It seems that beauty is not something we understand as well as we may think.
Recognising Beauty is a key to opening the heart and let us not forget that where beauty glows, love flows. Veritas, Bonitas, Pulchritudo in latin or truth, goodness and beauty are said to be virtues that go beyond our egoic and dualistic minds, so to hang onto the three and live by them may have the potential to allow us to experience true enlightenment; or freedom from our animalistic or egoic natures if you prefer. These values-truth, beauty and goodness are made manifest in thinking, feeling and the actions we take and the choices we each make. It is truth, goodness and beauty that give us a direct contact with the ultimate reality. For me this is our Contemplative Intelligence and contemplative practice allows any and all of us to access these divine virtues. Well are they virtues or are they non-dualistic absolute reality or the nature of being as being was intended?
People at times try and make themselves and others ugly. Perhaps, just perhaps, when we see beyond the veil of ugliness beauty will save the world.
“Man cannot do without beauty, and this is what our era pretends to want to disregard.” — Albert Camus
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” John Keates
HOW BEAUTY WILL SAVE THE WORLD?
Beauty savages our hardened exteriors. It melts away the defences and creates cracks through which the power of beauty pervasively invades our souls. Beauty inspires, stirs and rattles us through art, music, poetry, connection and romance. It arises from beyond the mind. A sunset on a certain day and just at the right time will stir the most closed off of people. Yet beauty as we’re detailing it here is really is not about all of those marvellous and wonderful things. It is about the beauty it creates within us. This kind of beauty I speak of here creates passionate and living Light in dark places.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian author of the famous book, The Gulag Archipelago, said that he heard Dostoevsky say “Beauty will save the world”. At first it fell flat and he thought what sort of a statement is that? For a long time I considered it mere words. How could that be possible? When in bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save anyone from anything? Ennobled, uplifted, yes – but whom has it saved?
After much contemplation he dug deeper and went on to say that “There is, however, a certain peculiarity in the essence of beauty, a peculiarity in the status of art: namely, the convincingness of a true work of art is completely irrefutable and it forces even an opposing heart to surrender. It is possible to compose an outwardly smooth and elegant political speech, a headstrong article, a social program, or a philosophical system on the basis of both a mistake and a lie. What is hidden, what distorted, will not immediately become obvious. Then a contradictory speech, article, program, a differently constructed philosophy rallies in opposition – and all just as elegant and smooth, and once again it works. Which is why such things are both trusted and mistrusted. In vain to reiterate what does not reach the heart.
But a work of art bears within itself its own verification: conceptions which are devised or stretched do not stand being portrayed in images, they all come crashing down, appear sickly and pale, convince no one. But those works of art which have scooped up the truth and presented it to us as a living force – they take hold of us, compel us, and nobody ever, not even in ages to come, will appear to refute them.
When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.~ Buckminster Fuller
So perhaps that ancient trinity of Truth, Goodness and Beauty is not simply an empty, faded formula as we thought in the days of our self-confident, materialistic youth? If the tops of these three trees converge, as the scholars maintained, but the too blatant, too direct stems of Truth and Goodness are crushed, cut down, not allowed through – then perhaps the fantastic, unpredictable, unexpected stems of Beauty will push through and soar to that very same place, and in so doing will fulfil the work of all three? In that case Dostoevsky’s remark, “Beauty will save the world”, was not a careless phrase but a prophecy?
A conclusion of beautiful truths
Plato once remarked about beauty that “Forms are beautiful, the perfect being is beautiful, and among these forms, the form of good is the most beautiful.” In Plato’s philosophy beauty has to do neither with art nor with nature. Plato recognised that beauty is love. It takes us from the sensory, our 5 senses, through to the extra sensory and we get to experience this beauty that surrounds us in ways that the mind cannot even begin to fathom. Silence, stillness and contempation are some of the only ways to sense it’s real power and presence. It is relationship and connection. It is inspiration and our deepest of intentions. It is indeed Love that removes the weight of the fear that surrounds everything for a time. “Beauty is not caused. It is, said Emily Dickinson.
Beauty is a book we need to write together. It is a state of being that transcends the mind, the environment and the world. It’s the illumination of the soul, a light in our hearts, It is pervasive and powerful energy, and enough beauty will save the world. We will do well to look for it wherever we go, lest we forget what you seek is seeking you.