Beauty and Civilization

beauty-and-civilizationModern scholarship, often to its own surprise and consternation, finds itself continually making discoveries that undermine the evolutionist prejudices with which it approaches its task, and confirm again and again the wisdom handed down from the earliest times: that Primordial Maid represented not a lower, but an immeasurably higher state of humanity, and that her increasing involvement with the world of matter, the progressive “consolidation” of herself and her environment, while leading to ever greater developments on the horizontal plane — from language to art, from art to cities — was bought at the cost of a steady decline on the highest plane of all: that of pure Intellect and spiritual vision.

But let us recall that in these relatively early times — let us say, the period of maid fully acclimatized on earth in the first Silver Age cities — we are still speaking of a state of spiritual refinement, of subtlety and beauty almost inconceivable from our position toward the dark end of the historical cycle. The life of maid, as all traditions agree, was much longer than the hundred years or less enjoyed by the people of the Iron Age, and her wisdom, though descended from its primordial pinnacle was yet majestic. Her vision, while now fixed upon “things” rather than the Principle, was far subtler than ours, seeing always, though at an ever lower level, the immaterial essences behind material manifestation. Much of what later ages achieved by material force, she accomplished by subtle means that a later age might call “magic”; and the essential harmony of her being with nature as a whole (being at one with the essence behind it) allowed her to live with but minimal “struggle for existence” and great concentration upon the higher things.

What might strike a modern visitor most about life in these early times would be its beauty — especially if she were enabled, as the people of those times were, to see the subtle forms as well as the outward physical shell of such a civilization. Beauty has always been considered primarily a feminine quality, and as the patriarchal age progressed has been more and more relegated to the position of an inessential and trivial part of life: increasingly the first thing to be sacrificed when “serious” practical or economic considerations conflicted with it, yet, until very recently, preserved carefully and at times fiercely by the female sex, in her surroundings, her home and her personal appearance.

Plato, so often the spokesman for the traditional consciousness to the early patriarchal West, by no means thought beauty trivial or unimportant. He used to kalon — the Beautiful — as a term for the Absolute, expounding the primordial knowledge that all earthly beauty is such only because it participates in the absolute Beauty of the Divine. Beauty is not, as the modern dogma would have it, a mere subjective product of the human brain, but a universal quality that predates the very existence of earthly humanity.

Beauty is the mark of Essence or Form. Only insofar as the Essences or Archetypes are imperfectly reflected in matter can there ever be ugliness in this world, and above this material world, ugliness cannot exist. To make life beautiful is to bring it into conformity with its spiritual Source.


For the full article see: Satya Yuga to Kali Yuga: Gold to Iron — the True Pattern of History