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As a self-proclaimed fashionista I recently took a good hard look at my love for fashion and beautiful things. I tried to reflect on the “why” of my attraction, to search inwardly for and hopefully find the real, deep, and more complex reality of the reason behind my strong gravitational pull toward beauty.
What is true for me in this world, I realized, is that I think of my life as essentially spiritual in nature, and that all things -- even fashion -- stem back to an attribute of God I love and admire.
I ask myself why I "die" when I see a beautifully designed garment, a stunning piece of architecture, or a powerful work of art. The answer? Something deep inside me responds to beauty, and that beauty brings with it a feeling of happiness, joy and ultimately love:
It is natural for the heart and spirit to take pleasure and enjoyment in all things that show forth symmetry, harmony, and perfection. For instance: a beautiful house, a well designed garden, a symmetrical line, a graceful motion, a well written book, pleasing garments -- in fact, all things that have in themselves grace or beauty are pleasing to the heart and spirit...
Beauty is an attribute of God. Look around you – the natural world absolutely without question has the power to stun us all with its beauty. God perfectly fashions all things, from the famous sunsets of the Serengeti to the gorgeous and perfectly architected Toco Toucan bird in the Brazilian savanna. If you really look at the entire creation, God never ceases to amaze us with His creativity and wonder. Human artists, designers, painters, sculptors and musicians can channel that beautiful love God has for us to create perfect and diverse beauty in every direction we gaze.
Appreciating this beauty, regardless of where you find it, reflects our spiritual connection with nature. Beauty ultimately proves the existence of a Creator, the ultimate artist, the Master of all organized symmetry and asymmetry, of light, and perfection.
“When the heart is filled with love everything seems beautiful & delightful to us.”
To reach this transcendent happiness and love can give us the spiritual contentment that allows us to appreciate all the beauty we see, regardless of how great or small or wherever we happen to experience it. If we open our minds and our hearts, we will see beauty and take from it that spiritual sustenance we all long for.
Monetary value or imposed rules or prejudices can’t contain beauty. True beauty comes from the diverse blending of all the elements of nature and its mystical components. This variety gives us true freedom to have that profound feeling of euphoria our spiritual nature requires:
Consider the world of created beings, how varied and diverse they are in species, yet with one sole origin. All the differences that appear are those of outward form and color. This diversity of type is apparent throughout the whole of nature.... Let us look... at the beauty in diversity, the beauty of harmony, and learn a lesson from the vegetable creation. If you behold a garden in which all the plants were the same as to form, color and perfume, it would not seem beautiful to you at all, but, rather, monotonous and dull. The garden which is pleasing to the eye and which makes the heart glad, is the garden in which are growing side by side flowers of every hue, form and perfume, and the joyous contrast of color is what makes for charm and beauty. So is it with trees. An orchard full of fruit trees is a delight; so is a plantation planted with many species of shrubs. It is just the diversity and variety that constitutes its charm; each flower, each tree, each fruit, beside being beautiful in itself, brings out by contrast the qualities of the others, and shows to advantage the special loveliness of each and all. - Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks. p. 51-53.
I believe that physical beauty has a purpose -- it leads us toward spiritual loveliness, which in turn leads us to experiencing the love of God. The beauty we all see, hear, feel, and taste affects the reality of our spiritual, and very real, existence. So next time you hear that beautiful piece of music which makes you incredibly happy or indulge in that culinary delight you love, remember that your reaction isn’t merely a physical experience but rather a spiritual one!