The purpose of this essay is to critically examine the ways by which Beauty is revealed to the human consciousness and how this impacts its expansion and evolution from an individual and collective standpoint. Three main aspects of how Beauty is revealed is identified and situated in the context of its impact on the evolution of human consciousness.
Keywords: Beauty, Consciousness, Humanity, Evolution, Physical, Creativity, Art, Emotion
A Beautiful Revelation
From the dawn of civilization, humankind has always sought to answer the question “What is Beauty?” This simple question has perplexed philosophers, theologians and scientists alike and has resulted in the postulation of numerous definitions across different disciplines. What has emerged is an abundance of terminological ambiguities that neither satisfactorily encapsulate the underlying essence of Beauty, nor provide for any critical insight into its revelatory aspects. Perhaps this is because Beauty has myriad expressions that are revealed to the human consciousness at different levels or stages of its evolution. This essay will examine three revelatory aspects of Beauty and situate them in the context of the ongoing evolution of human consciousness.
As sentient beings in a physical universe, we perceive reality through sensory perception from which we construct and make sense of our world. In doing so, we interact with nature and each other which necessarily opens us up to what we come to know as Beauty. This element of truth is more than a mere ideation or construct of the human mind. It aids in the evolution of our species from a physical, emotional, and spiritual perspective by how it is revealed to us.
We can approach the concept of Beauty as being revealed to us in three primary ways. First, because we are part of the natural world, we perceive Beauty through our senses. When we employ these senses via sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell to our environment, our consciousness can become aware of Beauty as it is revealed in nature. Hence symmetrical patterns inherent on a butterfly’s wings or on a nautiluses’ shell can appear to be beautiful to us because of their aesthetic qualities. Similarly, the sound of rustling leaves or the taste and smell of food, or even the sensation of wind upon exposed skin, can all be perceived as being beautiful.
This particular revelatory aspect of Beauty can be viewed as Topical Beauty. Topical Beauty is the physical manifestation of Beauty as revealed to us solely via our senses. This aspect of Beauty exists in the natural world and is apparent to us from a mathematical standpoint. For example, symmetry can be perceived in the face of a young woman or man and harmony can be gleaned from the acoustics of natural or manufactured sound. The sensations of taste, touch, and smell can also be measured and quantified in a scientific manner.
Such beauty however, is topical because it is revealed only on the surface of what we deem to be reality. In other words, it can be construed as the proverbial “tip of the iceberg”. It is expressed in nature through geometric patterns and is readily observable and measurable to all. Topical Beauty thus represents the physical aspect of Beauty.
The second way in which Beauty is revealed to us is through works of art. When the consciousness of humankind engages in creative pursuits, we are able to perceive the revelation of Beauty on an emotional level. Thus when we listen to one of Chopin’s piano concertos, we can come away feeling deeply moved by the beauty of the piece’s arrangement. Similarly, when we look at a Van Gogh painting, it can have a profound emotional effect on us because it possesses the capacity to elevate our consciousness to a level that is at once both physical and emotional.
When artists engage in creative endeavors, they are opening their consciousness to the apprehension of Beauty that exists in the sphere of imagination and wonder. This is outside the purely physical realm and enables the mind to transcend it by acting as a conduit through which Beauty can be revealed to us from an individual and collective standpoint.
Art forces us to look beyond the physical and allows for the evolution of human consciousness beyond its material limitations. When we have achieved such depth and breadth of consciousness, Beauty is revealed to us Sub-Topically. At this stage, Beauty has the power to move us in a physical and emotionally way simultaneously. Thus some individuals may weep at a musical concert or be left breathless upon seeing a sculpture, while for others; touching a quilt their grandmother made years ago can move them in a very deep and personal way.
Once revealed, Sub-Topical Beauty allows for the evolution and transcendence of human consciousness beyond the purely physical or emotional. This is because it engenders capacity building by elasticizing our consciousness through art. We can no longer just apprehend beauty via the senses, but we can now feel it in the very core of our being. This further enables us to partake in the beautiful for when we create, we beautify.
Upon reaching this level of consciousness, we are now in a position to understand how Beauty is revealed to us in the third way. When we engage in acts of virtue, whether towards other humans or to other species, we perceive Beauty that transcends emotion and reason. In such instances, the laws of nature do not apply since there is no inclination towards self-gain. Our actions become altruistic and in doing so, they beautify us collectively.
When we show compassion to the other, we engage each other in a beautiful way. When we impart kindness or tenderness to others, there need not be an aesthetic quality to such acts for us to find meaning and beauty in them. When we show love to an animal, it beautifies the human in us. When we forgive, our mercy allows us to redeem and beautify the other and this in turn, beautifies us. Understanding and perceiving Beauty in this manner allows for not only an expansion of our collective consciousness, but a deepening of it too. As human beings, we are flawed creatures. But, if our imperfections are what make us human, when we consciously engage in a virtuous act, it is our humanity that ultimately makes us beautiful.
This third way of perceiving and understanding Beauty thus transcends the physical and emotional. It is, in effect, apprehended by our consciousness intuitively. Such beauty affects us spiritually since we begin to see the other in ourselves and better understand our interconnectedness with all forms of life, human or otherwise. This is what I call Intuitive Beauty.
In conclusion, the apprehension and understanding of Beauty is directly linked to the evolution of human consciousness. As we mature and evolve as a species, so too will our capacity to beautify and become expressions of Beauty ourselves both in a concrete and abstract manner. Our pursuit of knowledge inevitably opens us up to the possibility of finding elements of verisimilitude from a physical, emotional, and intuitive perspective. In this respect, our potential to find Beauty within ourselves is, ultimately, one of humanity’s most profound endeavors.
Jeevan Bhagwat, See Bios Section for more information -
Contact Information: @j_bhagwat