Why Beauty is a Spiritual Necessity
Let’s start with a poem — once told, you will see it is required reading. Words alone can smooth our rough feathers if they carry the power of unseen forces.
CONVERSATIONS IN THE MOUNTAIN
If you were to ask me why I dwell among green mountains,
I should laugh silently; my soul is serene.
The peach blossom follows the moving water,
There is another heaven and earth beyond the words of men.
Love never lets go. It tugs at us, as if there’s a bit in the mouth, calling us to finish our dream life and tend to Paradise — the understanding there’s another world more vital and fulfilling which contains the waters of life we need to quench our secret thirst.
Li Po’s poem is all about that attending, a recognition of beauty, of nature, as he says, of another heaven & earth.
But while we are so focused on our own heaven, our own earth — our careers, self-image & reputation, our frantic need to keep busy, even our precious children — we miss it.
You can tell by the poem, it is patient, always present, & the gift of free will & the curse of the top-heavy mind is that we have all the time in the world; not in this one but that one.
For how can consciousness, that which is never born & never dies, be concerned? It has forever to wait for us to explore all the facets of mortal life, revolving as Victim-Persecutor-Rescuer, until we finally get off the ride.
‘Do not get bored of peace,’ says the great sage Nisargadatta — for we do — and he knew it — until we don’t anymore, until it is peace & beauty we wish for more than anything. It has to get down to the wire.
In stepping outside of time — through prayer, therapy or dream work, journaling and creativity — we open ourselves to inspiration making a home for divine messengers who have been waiting to get through all along, like some alien species telling humanity to wake up.
In this way, we can build a bridge or a funnel between our world & the next; we can become transmitters of messages not just to ourselves but to a world in desperate need whose inner eye is blinded.
What renders us blind to a greater universe both within ourselves and outside? Thinking, which we term ego, really just a stream of thought that impresses upon us our own seriousness, our need to conquer and climb like Capricorn’s thorny goat.
But it is not quite as simple as thinking, rather it’s the adoption of conditioning & concepts that we fail to question which really imprisons us, bolting the door so fiercely we devalue ideas that run counter to our own dream & easily defend the indefensible.
The Ancients knew the value of beauty that can throw a spear piercing the mind & startling those lost in their own thinking & conceptions, just like Li Po’s poem.
It is not up to us to work it all out even though that is what science demands; that we lead from the head. Yet without wisdom, without container & context, we are just ants imagining we are kings of the world.
To allow yourself to be penetrated is scary; it’s why most people prefer the rational to the numinous, the peer-reviewed from the deep knowing of the intuitive.
The mind has usurped the divine world and believes it will get away with it. In our hubris, we imagine we do everything, can save the world & everyone in it. We forget we do not birth ourselves, breathe ourselves or even choose when we go to the bathroom.
Consciousness does everything! As helpless babes, it keeps us alive ensuring most of us get through adolescence & into adulthood. Yes, our parents assist, but life itself is the real doer.
In the end, everything happens & will continue to do so when you are no longer in this body &, I am sad to say, utterly forgotten.
Man’s spirit is born to venture to the invisible — that’s why we spend billions exploring space while neglecting the many mansions within that still await our adventuring.
We all go through a series of initiations in order to land on this side of life. The first brings us from the Piscean void where nothing is, into this world of form, kicking & screaming our resistance.
‘The deepest cause of our discontent and of our confused yearnings is the loss of Paradise,’ states the Jungian elder James Hillman: no wonder we scream our way into life.
We are all bivalves, partly in this world while keeping a foot in the beyond. Yet the essential bleeds through, our urge for spiritual perfection migrating into our work, our body etc.
All of it is because in truth, whether we believe it or not, deep down we bear great love with us and want to find it a home here, even when the threat of war looms and we seem to aspire only to hell,
Nevertheless, the ecstatic vision of the Sufis tells us transcendent joy is close at hand & that we need look no further than ourselves.
I see a centrifugal force, worlds grow around it, circumferences of consciousness like bandwidths caressing the Earth. In my vision, each person only understands those within the same bandwidth & can easily be led to hate almost everybody else.
‘Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do,’ refers to this difference, which imagines we are separate — separate enough to easily kill one another. That’s where we find ourselves, misunderstanding all we see.
It is only the inner life that can change that.
For many years, I was stunned by my family’s blindness & walked away, until I understood it was not that they wouldn’t hear me, they couldn’t; their antennae were not tuned my way.
When we understand people can only work with what they can see, what they are conscious of, we can both understand & forgive, finally realizing we are all where we are meant to be.
In this way, we can help lift others to what Jung called ‘an evolutionary leap,’ helping them incorporate more inner light — not the false reflected light of the world which deceives, but the true Para-Atman light of the soul itself.
We are in the fight of our lives, all because of myopia & misunderstandings, but the poets know — you could do worse than to read them.
Copyright Simon Heathcote
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