It has been said that one should stop and smell the flowers. But what earthly good is the beauty of a flower? Isn't beauty only for sissies?! Even Plato said much art appreciation is just a way of flattering the senses. Our culture seems to have taken this viewpoint to heart. We struggle a lifetime to acquire comfort, pleasures, bank accounts, homes, and cars. The irony is that this is not what we really want — it is something we only believe we need. What we really want is to live secure and loved in a world of harmony. How could this be possible without an appreciation of beauty?
So you say: "Get me some beauty and I will appreciate it!" You already have it — nature serves it up gratis, always and everywhere. We are immersed in beauty, awesomeness, and mysteries. If we are unaware of it, we are the weak link. As psychiatrist Wilson Van Dusen said in Emmanuel Swedenborg: A Continuing Vision:
If you have been in and out of mystical experience you know the heart of any aesthetic experience which takes you there is to stop whatever you are occupied with, to relax and ease into a feeling of having endless time, to look, and then to be open to and accept what is suggested, to respect what is revealed. Look at your hand and its billions of cells, of lives. Marvelous!
The same life that animates the trees also animates us. What an honor to share this with the trees, the grass and the clouds, to participate in this supreme wonder.
We breathe, we take in and expel the world around us every second, whether we think of it or not.
Here we are, a mystery looking at this mystery, appreciating this mystery!
To practice this is the easiest of yogas. You don't have to sit motionless, bend yourself into a pretzel, or pay a fee. It is very enjoyable. It makes one be and feel beautiful. It makes one become aware of the perfection and utter benevolence of existence and bestows peace of mind so that earthbound problems achieve their proper place — from being monsters that greatly disturb us, they are relegated to the status of mice in the basement.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2005; copyright © 2005 Theosophical University Press)
Atrue reality exists in the heart of things. Underlying the seemingly ordinary events of our lives sublime forces are at work. There may be occasions when they are sensed more strongly, often when we are expressing spiritual qualities of soul — true love, compassion, and courage, for example. The divine essence flows mysteriously through all beings and things, forming one cosmic Life. It sustains and moves them all ever higher in their natural cyclic growth. Every situation, every activity, has this sacred spiritual potential.
The core of our being is immutable and cannot be harmed, defiled, or destroyed. This eternal, primal source is the wellspring of all truth, wisdom, love, and enlightenment, and is recognized in the world's many myths, mystery schools, and religious traditions. Its sacred presence can be known and directed only by a superior spiritual awareness, which we can embody by striving to be unselfish and pure in heart. — John Van Mater, Jr.