Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beauty and art

I know it's a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) that beauty and art are life enhancing, but I wanted to explore some deeper distinctions on this, and bring to your conscious awareness the use of these as tools and filters for enhancing your life.

What is beauty?

We find things beautiful and aesthetic because at the deepest level, we have evolved to experience that which is life promoting and life enhancing as attractive and desirable. Beauty is nature's yardstick for survival.

An amoeba finds a dirty puddle as attractive, because in that environment it is safe and has lots of nutrients it can use to live and replicate itself. Humans typically don't find dirty, putrid puddles as beautiful and attractive (unless they are young boys looking for a mess to play in :). Instead, we find clear fresh pools, ponds and running, babbling streams as attractive and aesthetic.

The reason for this is that as an organism we need fresh water to survive. Dirty stagnant puddles full of amoeba and other pathogens are not good for our health and survival. Over millions of years of evolution any complex organism that accidentally evolved the desire and attraction for dirty water, would have died sooner than those that found clean, clear water as attractive. The sense of beauty and attraction to crystal clear pools would have come to dominate the population as those who enjoyed this trait managed to live longer, prosper and replicate their genes.

I know I'm simplifying things somewhat here... and there's a deep point to what I'm sharing. Our sense of beauty, aesthetics and it's expression in art and life, are pointers to that which is life enhancing. Art connects us with wellness, life, resilience and thriving.

The heart and gut mind, attraction and values

Listen to the deep wisdom of your heart and gut brains. They'll speak to you of love, attraction and deeply felt values. In Japan, there is an ancient tradition, still practiced today at the highest levels of management and society, called 'Haragei'. This translates roughly to 'stomach art' and its essence involves learning to tune into and trust the wisdom of the gut. It's also known as 'the unspoken way' because the gut does NOT communicate with words. The heart and gut communicate through hunches, feelings, tastes, desires, symbols and dreams -- through art,  beauty and aesthetics. With haragei the practitioner listens to the silence, to the gaps between words, to what is not said, to the shapes, pathways and patterns of behaviour and the world.

So learn to listen to and deeply bond with your ancient heart and gut brains. They provide an evolved wisdom that you can learn to connect with and tune into. And a powerful pathway to them is via your sense of beauty and art.

Look for the spirit of beauty rather than surface beauty

Seek beauty not in ephemeral fashions and fleeting trends, but in the deeper more enduring beauty of nature and timeless art.

Inspire yourself by surrounding yourself with wonderful works of art. Create your own art. Add value to life by gathering and creating beauty. Support those who bring beauty into our world.

Beauty is natures signpost to adding value to your life. Use it to enhance your life and the lives of those you love.

with life enhancing wishes from the heart

The Unspoken Way

The key to success in Japan is a thorough understanding of the workings of "haragei" - an idea affecting language, social interaction, and business dealings in particular. This volume examines the idea of "haragei"


  1. Grant, this is an important post. Beauty and art--often considered by many to be optional--are essential to our enjoyment of life. I believe we were created with an appreciation for them. Your "Look for the spirit of beauty rather than surface beauty. Seek beauty not in ephemeral fashions and fleeting trends, but in the deeper more enduring beauty of nature and timeless art." are beautiful words I hope all your readers will absorb and pass along.

  2. Thank you Jean, once again you get to the heart of it, beauty and art _are_ essential to our enjoyment of life and keys to enhancing every day. I too hope that everyone who reads these ideas will have their minds and lives enhanced and enriched. Sometimes one small distinction, in complex patterning systems such as human lives, can make an ongoing and spreading world of difference.

  3. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is perhaps the most common quote when you bring together the question of art and beauty as without question the context of the quote reminds us that beauty is very subjective. But I wonder in its true nature if it really is?

    Going beyond that issue in its simplest form however is perhaps where we combine the notion of aesthetically pleasing art and the nature of the universe. Many of the most simple and awe striking beauty in the world comes from the natural order of the universe. The rainbow, the snowflake, the ice crystal are all amazing example of the unique balance between order and chaos. This too applies to the beauty of music for we know there is also a range of sounds that in the far extreme is hard to equate with music but subjective interpretations always will, and the amazing splendour that's also awe striking in a Strauss Waltz like the Blue Danube or in the simple simplicity of Erik Satie's Trois Gymnopédies sometimes also called A Variation On A Theme. A pageant of beauty with the best of renditions coming from the 70s group Blood Sweat & Tears a guitar, a flute and a triangle.

    This is what makes art and beauty so intriguing in our world. A topic that always astounds me as we simply do not acknowledge it and incorporate it into our lives, our living rooms and our way of life as much as we should.

    The Positive Art Imperative, which would be Art that is constructive and promotes positive health (a topic of another blog I'm sure), is really an extension of the Positive Imperative....... which also can be broken down into its simplest understanding.

    The world needs more of this = beautiful art.
    And less of that Negative and Neutral art/visuality (new word :>) as I somehow deep down believe one promotes light and the other darkness.

    Victor Sinclair
    Positive Imperative Founder :>)

  4. Thanks Victor for your thoughtful and interesting comment. You are so so right! The world needs more beautiful art to encourage and promote positivity and overcome the effects of negativity that are inbuilt within our evolved patterns. Positive visuality in our lives and our world are not a luxury, they are a necessity.

    smiles and best wishes


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