Our apparently objective experience consists of thoughts, sensations and perceptions — that is, the mind, body and world.
When Awareness ‘takes the shape’ of thinking, it seems to become a thought. When it ‘takes the shape’ of sensing, it seems to become a body and when it ‘takes the shape’ of perceiving, it seems to become an object, other or world.
When thinking comes to an end, the apparently objective part of it (the thought part) disappears but its substance, Awareness, remains. In that timeless moment (timeless because the mind is not present) Awareness tastes itself as it is, unmediated through the apparent objectivity of thought. This experience is known as Understanding.
When sensing comes to an end, the apparently objective part of it (the sensation or body part) disappears but its substance, Awareness, remains, knowing itself as Love or Happiness. And when perceiving comes to an end, the object, other or world disappears but their substance, Awareness, remains, knowing itself as it is, unveiled by the appearance of objects. That is the experience known as Beauty.
In other words, Understanding, Love, Happiness and Beauty are all different names for one and the same experience, the presence of Awareness, the knowing of our own Being.
The paths through Understanding and Love (the paths of Jnana and Bhakti) are well documented but the path through perceiving is less often mentioned. The path of perceiving or the Way of Beauty is the way of the artist. It’s a path through which it becomes clear, and the means through which it is expressed, that the substance of all perceptions is made out of Awareness.
Although all seeming objects are made out of Awareness, it is not, at a relative level, the function of all objects to reveal this. For instance, the purpose of a kettle is to boil water, not to reveal the true nature of experience.
However, there is one category of objects, which are made specifically with the intention of revealing the true nature of experience and such an object is what we call a work of art. The function of a work of art is not simply to point towards, but actually to reveal the true nature of experience. As Cezanne said, to ‘give us a taste of Eternity.’
Like the words of the teaching, such objects come pregnant with their origin, the silence and love from which they originate and, as such, are tremendously powerful. So, Beauty is the experience through which we come to know and feel that all seeming things are made out of That which knows them.
Keats was right. ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty.’ The experience of Truth and Beauty are one and the same experience. ‘That is all ye know on earth.’ The mind (which is the expression of Truth) and the world (which is the expression of Beauty) are one. That is, the apparent ‘knower’ and the apparently ‘known’ are one.
Whether we recognize it or not, this is always our experience. It is, as Keats says, ‘all ye know on earth’ — the knowing of our own Being in and as all seeming things. ‘…and all ye need to know.’ Yes, this knowledge alone, if deeply considered and made one’s own and subsequently applied to all circumstances, is all that is required to lead a sane, happy and loving life. Keats was rather more economical with his words than I am!
The great artists of the past, of whom Keats was one, were perhaps the vehicles through which this knowledge was communicated most powerfully in our culture but it is not their provenance alone.
This experiential knowledge of the true nature of experience is, in fact, known by all but sometimes seemingly forgotten. However, it is never far from the surface and even in popular culture — music, fashion etc. — we see this same longing for Love, Beauty and Happiness, all of which are simply variations of our longing to return to the true nature of our most intimate being.
When this Love, Beauty and Happiness is seemingly veiled by the appearance of the ‘I’ entity, it cries out all the more loudly. All around us in our culture we hear these ‘love cries’ all desperately searching in the wrong place for what lies at their heart.
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~ by Rupert Spira