As an expression of beauty, awe, and awakening, art has always played a great part along our journey to our Higher Self. Throughout the world, holy places have been built to hold the polar tensions of spirit and matter, inner and outer space and light, as well as the community that shares the transcendent experience within the architectural space.
Assagioli noted that:
“Matter is the highest form of Spirit and Spirit is the lowest form of Matter.”
In this way, spirit seeks matter to express the full beauty of the transcendent. Assagioli also noted that Plato, Plotinus, and Christian mystics have recognized and proclaimed that “beauty is the essential attribute of the Supreme.”
However, beauty holds a paradox, as we often and easily can become tied to the form beauty takes. While the external form of something or someone beautiful can captivate and fascinate us, we can become overwhelmed with the desire to possess it. We see this fascination working against us all the time – in the way the advertising industry entices us to buy products and movie star images sell us magazines.
But Assagioli shows us a noble way to overcome our sensory attachment to beautiful things. First we must enlarge our idea of beauty across the horizontal plane to include more and more forms. And then we must elevate our eyes vertically from the form, to its cause – to its invisible and infinite source.
Assagioli quotes Plato to illustrate this idea:
“One needs to progress from love of a beautiful form to love of all beautiful forms and of physical beauty in general, then from love of beautiful bodies to love of beautiful souls, beautiful actions, and beautiful thoughts.
As one ascends through moral beauty, one will reach the point where a marvelous eternal beauty appears, free form any corruption, absolutely beautiful. This beauty does not consist of a beautiful face, a beautiful body, a thought or any particular science or art. It resides in no other being than itself, neither in heaven nor on earth, it simply exists in itself in eternity and exists for itself in absolute, perfect unity.”
Assagioli suggests that our first step up the Platonic ladder is to spend time in nature. As we learn to notice the infinite variety and beauty of natural phenomena, we learn to really see more and more beauty – and expand our understanding of it.
We can also spend more time looking at art. “The true function and goal of art,” Assagioli says, “is to reveal the hidden beauty or the divine imprint in all things.” Great art helps us to recognize the seal of divinity on all matter.
Ok, dear Catherine, I read it. Thank you for your article. The role of beauty is beautifully presented. Thank you, yes indeed it is this reciprocity between spirit and matter that makes it possible for beauty to take form…. beautifully. It sanctifies matter…. Might we say that this reciprocity between spirit and matter has already been illustrated by J.-Christ: He was Spirit (of the Father) in its densest form – which is only possible by redeeming/saving it, purifying that matter constituting the form ?
What I am pointing at is that “Matter is the densest form of Spirit and Spirit is the most subtle form of Matter.” is an occult axiom Theosophy brought back to the attention of the public. All spiritually oriented people, even Einstein in his famous equation (Energy is matter at the square of the speed of light), have taken it for granted. And it is important to bring it into everyday life, as your article so beautifully does, because the more people become aware of this, the more will they recognize the (Christ-) Spirit in themselves… And behave accordingly…
Dear Isabelle, Thank you for your encouraging words and insightful comments. You are a great teacher of psychosynthesis as it appears in all its manifestations. Love, Catherine
As for the union of Love and Will, it suffices to quote the words of Crowley “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.” Or in the words of Saint Augustine, ” Love and what thou wilt, do.” (Dilige et quod vis fac)
Thank you for all your comments. It feels like you have a lot to say. Have you tried putting all your thoughts about beauty into an essay of your own? I encourage you to do so. With gratitude, Catherine
I would like to answer to you in a comprehensive and exhaustive way, but as you know, every form of language is unsatisfactory, insufficient. That’s why we try to adopt meta-languages that belong to art, poetry, esoteric and occult symbolism and so on.
The Being is
And belongs to the Unity
And every representation of that Unity cannot truly represent that Unity.
By paraphrasing Rūmī once again, whatever much I try to expound or explain beauty, when I come to beauty itself I am ashamed of my explanations…
Writings only go for Literature in my opinion.
“You are masterpieces of yourselves, you cannot produce a masterpiece.” Carmelo Bene said.
Muħammad was “a waking Qur`an” according to Ā’ishah.
Ibnʿ’Arabī’s masterpieces cannot be read and understood without mastering the language in which they were originally written.
Abū al-‘Alāʾal-Maʿarrī’s masterpiece, Risālat al-ghufrān (“The Epistle of Forgiveness”) cannot be translated without being misinterpreted since «traduire, c’est trahir»
You can only read the Divine Comedy from the Anastatic copies of the Original manuscript, when the written part tends towards the spoken one.
I wish I have never learnt how to read and write
I wish i could sing extemporary verses like the poets of Baghdad in Its Golden Age did, or at least improvise in the same way our traditional illiterate storytellers did in Sicily until a few years ago, but I need to be free from profane occupations and commitments and be immersed in a full hermitage in wilderness first and foremost in order o achieve that.
Sadly, “modern man, in his attempt to reduce the time and expand the space, has lost the both of them.” (M. Fukuoka)