One of the most fundamental characteristics of human nature is a soul’s desire to explore reality and search for meaning in the universe – the mind longs to understand. Language is the medium by which we can think about and describe our understandings of reality. Over some previous posts, elements of the language of science were discussed, desirable features to help express meaning. But this is not the only language. Poetry expresses meanings, relationships, and underlying truths of reality with a different kind of precision and clarity that science can’t. The language of religion, too, though not always keeping with the same type of unambiguity that science has, nonetheless is rational and consistent, albeit a different kind. It arouses noble sentiments, empowers and inspires the reader, and reaches the deepest roots of human motivation through its appeal to a human being’s innate attraction to beauty.
Knowing that words, thought, and actions are all linked, what types of thoughts and actions can the languages of poetry and religion develop within someone?
The human being’s ceaseless search for meaning and truth is borne of an attraction to beauty. Contentment comes from discovering beauty within the existence of a thing, a concept, a relationship, an experience, a melody, an action. Is not part of the drive of science or philosophy the beauty – the order, symmetry, subtlety, simplicity – reflected in descriptions of reality?
Beauty, like all concepts, can be interpreted within a framework. Consider a materialistic interpretation of reality. Our innate attraction to beauty would have to come from the evolutionary process – certain characteristics increasing fitness and thus creating attractive impulses. As language developed, these impulses created the concept of beauty. This interpretation reduces beauty to a source of pleasure – whether manifest as crude physical or as sophisticated intellectual; as a stimulus for action; as a collective culture of excitement and thrill. Regardless of its form, it is controlled by ego and unable to transcend this limited earthy existence.
Under the assumption that the human soul exists and that it lasts beyond this brief association with a body, then attraction to beauty becomes a main force that governs the journey and evolution of the soul towards perfection – the beauty of perfection. The pleasures and experiences of this type of beauty can be used as indicators of spiritual progress.
In this context, how can we view the concepts of love, knowledge, unity, justice?