Japanese beauties

Beauty is inherent in the world and we have only to tune into it. Some beauty speaks particularly forcefully, other beauty exists in quiet delight. Great beauty may reside in forgotten places. Wherever it is and however it presents itself, thinking of beauty as resonance gives us new ways to find and appreciate it. Walking in nature, stopping to observe its fine points, is the obvious way to begin to tune into beauty. And yet, the natural landscape which used to be readily available has, for many, become something of a challenge to find in our urban environments. Our disregard of nature in our cities speaks to the pathology of our age. The glory of nature is seen where water meets the land, where the four elements of old: earth, water, air and the fire of the sun meet and play. The glory of nature can be seen particularly along the coast at Big Sur in California and in the islands of Hawaii. Find these places and revel in their beauty. The urban dweller visits museums, attends concerts and haunts libraries and bookstores to make up for the loss of the natural environment. The churches are largely empty as people hope to find the spirit in art, music and literature. Museums have become the cathedrals of our age, points of pilgrimage on the tourist circuit. In negotiating this world of man-made beauty, Campbell’s (1990) distinction between proper and improper art is particularly helpful. When you find beautiful art that speaks to you, observe the resonance patterns that are created. In music consider the rhythm. Is it the rhythm of the ordered clock or the romantic heart beat that drives the piece? Is there an order of form or a flow of emotions and moods?


Listen to the resonance of the voice; who is singing? Consider a great opera with its use of literature, music, drama, dance and art while recalling Huxley’s (1990) comment that the greatest works of art are those which harmonize within a single harmonious system the greatest number of significant factors of human living. Our world is full of great literature, art and music which forms part of our spiritual atmosphere. According to Hofmann, this spiritual atmosphere consists only of matter and energy — only as symbols of spirit, found in the form of spoken words and music, and matter in the form of books containing written words, and in all kinds of human arts containing paintings, sculpture and so on.


The spiritual world is made up of the contributions of countless individuals in the course of human evolution and history. It could be stored and is now existing only in the form of these material and energetic symbols in outer space (the space around us). It becomes spiritual reality only in individual human beings by the decoding capacity of the individual. (1993) Hofmann (1990) asked us to consider the interdependence of the outer world that transmits and the receivers that accept the material for our inner worlds. Both are inseparable factors in the formation of our human reality and our spiritual lives. The examples that follow demonstrate the spirit incarnate in material things. Since many fine examples of paintings, art and music are known, the following discussion will tend to focus on less obvious examples of the resonance of beauty. To help you to understand what I mean by this resonance, I want to mention just a few places of man-enhanced beauty that never fail to amaze me. To fully resonate with the beauty of places like these you must be present at the sites; pictures will only give you a hint of the wonders to be found there. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, a house he designed for the Kaufman family in Pennsylvania, is such a place. Having made reservations months in advance to visit it, I was dismayed to arrive and find myself included in a large group of unruly teenagers. Expecting the worst, I was pleasantly surprised. As we approached the house, so powerful was its beauty that the group fell silent and respectful. The Japanese sand and rock garden at Zuiho-in Zen Temple in Kyoto, Japan, designed for the ancient temple by twentieth century master Mirei Shigemori, has such resonating energy it will take your breath away The Golden Gate Bridge is another magical structure, a marvel of engineering that enhances a spectacular natural site. The Pantheon in Rome has a most remarkable two thousand year old dome that defies gravity. At the apex of the dome is an opening like an eye that lets in a shaft of sunlight that travels magically through the great space as the day progresses. In Athens, the marvelous portico of the Erechtheum has floated serenely above the city for twenty-four hundred turbulent years. The Nike of Samothrace at the top of the stairs at the Louvre in Paris takes my breath away whenever I see it. In the basement of the Louvre, look for the basalt column inscribed with the law code of Hammurabi dating from 1750 B.C. Set in stone here, for the first time in civilization, we find protection for the weak from the strong. In the code, women were granted right to own property (a relatively new right for women the United States) and the individual was considered innocent until proven guilty. Here, tucked in the basement of the Louvre, is the beauty of justice. You can’t help but get a little tingle up your spine.

June 12, 2018


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