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The contemplation of beauty causes the Soul to sprout wings Plato Most of us know in our bones that beauty

matters. As an artist, its long been my belief that beauty might even be the most important elementbeing at the center of everything real: love, grace, compassion, kindness, gratitude. We connect with an inner state of happiness, even if fleeting, when we experience beauty in its purest form: the beauty of an open heart, the innocence of children, the astonishing limitless wonder of the natural world, the human-made beauty of inspired art, music, poetry and architecture, the beauty of the Light that sustains us within and without. We know now that happiness can have a positive effect on physical wellbeing. Happy people tend to live longer, and laughter is good medicine. If the contemplation of beauty really does cause the soul to sprout wings, it might be wise to consider that it may also have a role in the healing of the body. What beauty causes YOUR soul to soar? Send us an image, song (see comments) or a few words of beauty, and with your permission we will post them. Here are a few images of beauty I like (photos are copyrighted by me unless otherwise stated). Sue Memhard, M.Ed., Founder/Director, The Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation

Only in the Contemplation of Beauty Is Human Life Worth Living


(Plato, Symposium 211d) I am an aesthete; that is the one sin I confess to. If I do have a public message, it is that aesthetic factsbeauty, style and elegance, grace and connectednessare crucial to life. Alexander Nehamas in an interview with David Carrier in Bomb Magazine, 1998

Platos Ladder of Love The Ascent to Beauty Itself (Symposium) Well then, she [the goddess Diotima] began, the candidate for this initiation cannot, if his efforts are to be rewarded, begin too early to devote himself to the beauties of the body. First of all, if his preceptor instructs him as he should, he will fall in love with the beauty of one individual body, so that his passion may give life to noble discourse. Next he must consider how nearly related the beauty of any one body is to the beauty of any other, when he will see that if he is to devote himself to loveliness of form it will be absurd to deny that the beauty of each and every body is the same. Having reached this point, he must set himself to be the lover of every lovely body, and bring his passion for the one into due proportion by deeming it of little or of no importance. Next he must grasp that the beauties of the body are as nothing to the beauties of the soul, so that wherever he meets with spiritual loveliness, even in the husk of an unlovely body, he will find it beautiful enough to fall in love with and to cherish--and beautiful enough to quicken in his

heart a longing for such discourse as tends toward the building of a noble nature. And from this he will be led to contemplate the beauty of laws and institutions. And when he discovers how nearly every kind of beauty is akin to every other he will conclude that the beauty of the body is not, after all, of so great moment. And next, his attention should be diverted from institutions to the sciences, so that he may know the beauty of every kind of knowledge. And thus, by scanning beauty's wide horizon, he will be saved from a slavish and illiberal devotion to the individual loveliness of a single boy, a single man, or a single institution. And, turning his eyes toward the open sea of beauty, he will find in such contemplation the seed of the most fruitful discourse and the loftiest thought, and reap a golden harvest of philosophy, until, confirmed and strengthened, he will come upon one single form of knowledge, the knowledge of the beauty I am about to speak of. And here, she said, you must follow me as closely as you can. Whoever has been initiated so far in the mysteries of Love and has viewed all these aspects of the beautiful in due succession, is at last drawing near the final revelation. And now, Socrates, there bursts upon him that wondrous vision which is the very soul of the beauty he has toiled so long for. It is an everlasting loveliness which neither comes nor goes, which neither flowers nor fades, for such beauty is the same on every hand, the same then as now, here as there, this way as that way, the same to every worshiper as it is to every other. Nor will his vision of the beautiful take the form of a face, or of hands, or of anything that is of the flesh. It will be neither words, nor knowledge, nor a something that exists in something else, such as a living creature, or the earth, or the heavens, or anything that is--but subsisting of itself and by itself in an eternal oneness, while every lovely thing partakes of it in such sort that, however much the parts may wax and wane, it will be neither more nor less, but still the same inviolable whole. And so, when his prescribed devotion to boyish beauties has carried our candidate so far that the universal beauty dawns upon his inward sight, he is almost within reach of the final revelation. And this is the way, the only way, he must approach, or be led toward, the sanctuary of Love. Starting from individual beauties, the quest for the universal beauty must find him ever mounting the heavenly ladder, stepping from rung to rung--that is, from one to two, and from two to every lovely body, from bodily beauty to the beauty of institutions, from institutions to learning, and from learning in general to the special lore that pertains to nothing but the beautiful itself--until at last he comes to know what beauty is. And if, my dear Socrates, Diotima went on, man's life is ever worth the living, it is when he has attained this vision of the very soul of beauty. And once you have seen it, you will never be seduced again by the charm of gold, of dress, of comely boys, or lads just ripening to manhood; you will care nothing for the beauties that used to take your breath away and kindle such a longing in you, and many others like you, Socrates, to be always at the side of the beloved and feasting your eyes upon him, so that you would be content, if it were possible, to deny yourself the grosser necessities of meat and drink, so long as you were with him. But if it were given to man to gaze on beauty's very self--unsullied, unalloyed, and freed from the mortal taint that haunts the frailer loveliness of flesh and blood--if, I say, it were given to man to see the heavenly beauty face to face, would you call his, she asked me, an unenviable life, whose eyes had been opened to the vision, and who had gazed upon it in true contemplation until it had become his own forever? And remember, she said, that it is when he looks upon beauty's visible presentment, and only then, that a man will be quickened with the true, and not the seeming, virtue--for it is

virtue's self that quickens him, not virtue's semblance. And when he has brought forth and reared this perfect virtue, he shall be called the friend of god, and if ever it is given to man to put on immortality, it shall be given to him (Symposium 210a-212b).

What are the differences between Plato and Aristotle when discussing Beauty? Plato and Aristotles vision of beauty reflects their individual philosophy of life and is summed up well by Rachaels classic fresco painting of the Platonic academy in the Vatican. While Plato points upward to the heavens and the realm of the eternal Good, Aristotle, and his pupil gestures downward to the earth, the realm of man. It is essential to the understanding of Platos ideas on Beauty to understand that he put forward first and foremost a hierarchy of Being. The Good being the ultimate cause, from which all things have their being, "knowable things do not derive from the Good only their knowability, but also their existence and their essence, although the Good is not essence, but in dignity and power is even above Essence." Republic. VI. 509 "... But I believe it to be thus: that in the intelligible world the Idea of the Good is the highest and the most difficult to discern; but once it is discerned it is necessary to conclude that it is for all the cause of everything good and beautiful because in the visible world it has generated the light and the Lord of the light, and in the intelligible world, where it equally rules, it has produced truth and intelligence... " Republic, VII, 51 Being the ultimate, Plato saw this as the highest state to which a human could aspire. In the Republic Plato describes the famous analogy of the cave. Like Malevichs paintings, in which, "all reference to ordinary objective life has been left behind and nothing is real except... the feeling of non-objectivity." Malevich Platos ascent from the shadows of imagination also leaves behind "the visible world" until all forms, including the individual, dissolve in the sun itself, the Good. Much like the square merging in the expanse of white in Malevichs White on white. Around and from Platos absolute Good, are arranged and proceed forth its qualities, its "ideal forms": "... the equal in itself, the beautiful in itself... that is, Being... is not each of these absolute realities, being uniform in itself, always identical to itself.." Phaedo 79a Plato states the purest and closest to "the Good", infact the closest defining characteristics to it, as the Good is inexpressible and beyond definition, is firstly moderation then beauty, proportion and truth. "Therefore if we are unable to net the good in a single concept, we must use three to capture it, namely beauty, proportion and truth. ... . goodness has somehow been caught above all in moderation and what is moderate, ordered and so on... .Then again its second domain is proportion, beauty, perfection, sufficiency and everything of this kind." Philebus 65a-66a Beyond these are the essences of all created forms or Ideas as Plato puts them. It is important to note though that they are not ideas as in mental constructs, but self-existent realities: "it is clear that things themselves must contain in themselves their own permanent essence. They do not depend upon us, nor are they pulled up or down by our imagination, but they exist by themselves, according to their own essence, as they are by nature." Cratylus 386e

These eternal essences, are the causal forms of all mental and physical forms. This realm of Ideas is the realm of Being, here things are causal and eternal, below this is the realm of Becoming. Here dwell all mortal forms, mental and physical. Being created they always die, and constantly move between the two. "the old worn out mortality leaving another new and similar existence behind-unlike the divine, which is always the same and not another? And in this way, Socrates, the mortal body, or mortal anything, partakes of immortality". Thus they are always Becoming. Becoming participates in the reality of Being, but it is not pure Being. Beyond both of these is the Good, cause of both the intelligible world and the visible. To Plato it is the Good, which is essentially beautiful. "Beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting", is the radiance of this Good or as the sculptor Leonard McComb stated "the celebration of Gods radiance". This Beauty, "in every form, is one and the same", unaltered by human perception or opinion. In the Symposium Plato elaborates on Beauty, describing it is the goddess of creation, Aristotle on the other hand places reason as the cause of creation, with no mention of beauty. "Beauty then, is the destiny or goddess of parturition who presides at birth, and therefore, when approaching beauty, the conceiving power is propitious, and diffusive and benign, and begets and bears fruit: at the sight of ugliness she frowns and contracts and has a sense of pain and turns away." Symposium For Aristotle "Reason forms the starting point, alike in the works of art and in works of nature." Parts of Animals Book It is the basis upon which anything can be created. In Aristotles thought we see a negation of the divine creative power and the need for man to rely on this and instead the power of creation being put in mans mind. "Art is identical with a capacity to make, involving a true course of reasoning. All art is concerned with coming into being, i.e., with contriving and considering how something may come into being which is capable of either being or not being, and whose origin is in the maker and not in the thing made... .. Art, then as has been said, is a state concerned with making, involving a true course of reasoning, and lack of art on the contrary is a state concerned with making, involving a false course of reasoning; both are concerned with the variable." Nicomachean Ethics Book 7.10&20 A similar difference can be seen in the work of Chuck Close and Vija Celmins. Closes work speaks of the conquering of vision by reason. His large scale, systematic techniques and human focused subject matter, form a closed circuit for the vision. One is inundated by the immensity of the human mind and its total control of vision. Man being the prime mover and shaker throughout the image. Celmins on the other hand, speaks of the infinity of vision and nature. The vision being lost in the vast depth of space, desert or water. Throughout all her images one is aware of the immanent sense of infinity unconquered by thought. As Platos seeker dissolves into beauty itself, so to does the viewer become absorbed in Celmins formless vastness. This ascension towards a pure contemplation of "beauty everywhere" is described later in the Symposium; "These are the lesser mysteries of love, ... ..For he who would proceed aright in this matter should begin in youth to visit beautiful forms; and first... .to love one such form only... . soon he will of himself perceive... ..that the beauty in every form is one and the same ... ..and will become a lover of all beautiful forms; in the next stage he will consider that the beauty of the mind is more honourable than the beauty of the outward form. ... . until he is compelled to contemplate and see the beauty of institutions and laws, and to understand that the beauty of them all is of one family, and that personal beauty is a trifle; and after laws and institutions he will go on to the sciences, that he may see their beauty,... .. and at last the vision is revealed to him of a single science, which is the science of beauty everywhere... ... He who has been instructed thus far in the things of love, and who has learned to see the beautiful in due order and succession, when he comes towards the end will suddenly perceive a nature of wondrous beauty... a nature which in the first place is everlasting, not growing and decaying... ..secondly, not fair in one point of view and foul in another... ..as if fair to some and foul to others, or in the likeness of a face or hands or any other part of the bodily frame, or in any form of speech or knowledge, or existing in any other being... .. but beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting, which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is imparted to the ever-growing and perishing beauties of all other things... ... beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may... ... I try to persuade others, that in the attainment of this end human nature will not easily find a helper better than love."

The paintings of Mark Rothko also create a sense of luminous grandeur and emptiness akin to Platos vision of beauty, a vision that demands ones complete absorption within it. The austere simplicity of form and brilliance of colour reflect the gradual stripping away of diversity at each successive stage, until one goes beyond the formal qualities entirely. "I am not interested in relationships of colour or form or anything else.. I am interested only in expressing the basic human emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on-and the fact that lots of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I communicate with those basic human emotions. The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their colour relationships, then you miss the point." (S.Rodman, Conversations with Artists. New York. 1957) It is important to note that throughout the ascension to beauty itself, Socrates states; "human nature will not easily find a helper better than love." Love, for Plato, is the key to an understanding of true beauty. Diotima was an "instructress in the art of love" and their discussion begins with questions on the nature of Love. Love is described as a "great God", "like all spirits he is intermediate between the divine and the mortal", interpreting "between gods and men". But the Love "is not, as you imagine, the love of the beautiful only. " But; "The love of generation and of birth in beauty... . to the mortal creature, generation is a sort of eternity and immortality... . love is of the everlasting possession of the good, all men will necessarily desire immortality together with good: Wherefore love is of immortality. " To Plato all humankind desires for immortality and this is satisfied in a sense by creation, which is seen as a continuing of oneself. Whether it be the creation of children or art, "for there certainly are men who are more creative in their souls than in their bodies". For this creative act humans search for the beautiful, "that he may beget offspring-for in deformity he will beget nothing". This act is a desire to participate in immortality. However, to truly create eternal beauty Plato puts forward that the soul must ascend to beauty itself. There partaking of beauty itself; "he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal". Thus for Plato the contemplation of beauty enables man to exist in the eternity of the cosmos. The practice of beauty, a religious experience, a prayer or meditation on ones infinite nature. As Sister Wendy Beckett states on the artistic practice of the photographer Garry Fabian Miller. "Miller makes no secret of the fact that his art is a spiritual activity. It is a form of prayer, and equally, paradoxically, a form of proclamation" Contrasting with Plato, Aristotle believed beauty to be something rooted in an object, unlike Platos Beauty in the realm of Ideas. Aristotle considered beauty a function of form, grounded in an object or context, without an object it could not exist. "Now since the good and the beautiful are different (for the former always implies conduct as its subject, while the beautiful is found also in motionless things)... The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness." Metaphysics Book 13. (107a.34 & 107b.1) The object while being the platform for beauty was also the cause of itself. Creation does not happen for the sake of immortality or the Good. "the process of evolution is for the sake of the thing finally evolved, and not this for the sake of the process ... since nature means two things, the matter and the form, of which the latter is the end, and since all the rest is for the sake of the end, the form must be the cause in the sense of that for the sake of which... . The necessary in nature, then, is plainly what we call by the name of matter, and the changes in it." Physics Book 2. (198b.16. 199a.6,15&31.. 200a.30)

Too both Aristotle and Plato, like most of the ancient world, order or a proportion of parts was a key factor in beauty. "Soc: In every case, however, moderation and proportion seem, in effect, to be beauty and excellence." Philebus 64e And Aristotle; the main qualities of beauty are orderly arrangement, proportion, and definiteness, However, for Aristotle this "order in its arrangement of parts" exists in a relationship between several parts, one to another, i.e. in complex objects only. In contrast to Plato where beautiful objects, "are not relatively beautiful, but are so in their own right." Not to mention the fact that Platos ultimate understanding of beauty is of a "beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting," not reliant in any way upon the arrangement of matter, but on the contrary bringing forth matter and bestowing upon it order. In Aristotles thought, the quality of beauty arises out the relationship of matter, one part to another, it is intertwined with form. Jon Grooms discussion on the geometry in his paintings, would have appealed to Platos sensibilities for order and proportion: "The geometry is the vehicle that carries the message, its simplicity and directness embrace another value; getting beyond the physical to reach a higher plane." In the "visible world Plato too looks towards geometry as a means for reaching a "higher plane", these "pure" forms, are not "relatively" beautiful, but "beautiful in any situation". In essence forms which partake of the Ideas, the realm of Being. " Protarchus: Well, which pleasures would it be right to consider as true, Socrates? Socrates: Those which have to do with the colours we call beautiful, with figures, with most scents, with musical sounds: in short, with anything which, since it involves imperceptible, painless lack, provides perceptible, pleasant replenishment which is uncontaminated by pain... .. By beauty of figures I mean... not what most people would consider beautiful... the figures of creatures in real life or in pictures... . I mean a straight line, a curve and the plane and solid figures that lathes, ruler and squares can make from them... I mean that unlike other things, they are not relatively beautiful: their nature is to be beautiful in any situation, just as they are, and to have their own special pleasantness... . And I mean that there are colours, which are analogously beautiful and pleasant... . Well by musical sounds I mean unwavering, clear ones which produce a single pure phrase: they are not relatively beautiful, but are so in their own right, and they have innately attendant pleasures... .. whiteness: that even if slight in quantity, provided it is pure, it surpasses a large amount which is not pure, because it is the truest instance." Philebus 51a-58d The use of geometry with its unchanging mathematical perfection can be seen most obviously in the art of Piet Mondrian. His work encapsulates many of the forms Plato talks about, especially so-called sacred geometry like golden rectangles and proportions aswell as the pure, clear colours Plato affirms. More importantly his intention for using these forms, "the expression of pure reality," is entirely appropriate to Platos aims. "I felt that this reality can only be established through pure plastics. In its essential expression, pure plastics is unconditioned by subjective feeling and conception. It took me a long time to discover that particularities of form and natural colour evoke subjective feeling, which obscure pure reality. The appearance of natural forms changes but reality remains constant. To create pure reality plastically, it is necessary to reduce natural forms to the constant elements of form and natural colour to primary colour. The aim is not to create other particular forms and colours with all their limitations, but to work toward abolishing them in the interest of a larger unity." For Mondrian and Plato the value of geometry is its proximity to Ideal forms. The reduction Mondrian speaks of is an ascent to the Beautiful its excellence corresponding to its nearness to this Idea. However, for Plato, these physical geometric forms, i.e., a circle, will always fall short of the perfect reality of the Idea of Circle. This Idea, "Circle" or "circle-ness" itself is then subject to a higher order of Truth, Proportion and Beauty, then again to Moderation and finally to its ultimate cause the Good. Formalism along with its children Minimalism and Colour Field painting, also strove towards a priori form. Stripping away traditional religious, social, and representative subject matter, in a reductive quest for the elusive source of beauty, "significant form" as it was called. For some (i.e.: Newman and Rothko ) "significant form", was as Clive Bell described, the "expression of that emotion which is the vital force in every religion", for others plastic form in its purity held "significant form" in itself, without any reference to a transcendent source.

Plato and Mondrians emphasis on a "constant reality" is quite different from Aristotles description of the everchanging nature of beauty of a man. Where Plato and Mondrian reject the beauty of natural forms Aristotle elaborates on mans varying beauty, a beauty in constant flux. "Beauty varies with the time of life. In a young man beauty is the possession of a body fit to endure the exertion of running and of contests of strength; which means that he is pleasant to look at; and therefore all-round athletes are the most beautiful... For a man in his prime, beauty is fitness for the exertion of warfare, together with a pleasant but formidable appearance. For an old man, it is to be strong enough for such exertion as is necessary, and to be free from all those deformities of old age which cause pain to others." Rhetoric Book 1. 1361b.8 Beauty in this sense is brilliantly captured by the fleeting creations of Andy Goldsworthy. His intricate creations convey the clarity and purity much loved by both Aristotle and Plato, but much of their beauty lies in their ephemerality and constantly changing relationships. This is most definitely a beauty intertwined with form. Beauty here stands on a different ground to Plato. It is not based on a "constant reality" but on its relevance and desirability. Later in the Rhetoric Aristotle declares anything as beautiful; "which, being desirable in itself, is at the same time worthy of praise, or which, being good, is pleasant because it is good." Rhetoric This begins to push beauty into the realm of "subjective feeling", there being no eternal basis for what is "desirable in itself". In effect Aristotle does with these ideas what Pollock did with the action paintings. Where Formalism had eschewed subjective content as a means for "significant form", Pollocks paintings forced recognition that process and semiotic structure, as well as the aesthetic response and significant form, were subjects of aesthetic inquiry. A push back to the individuals subjective judgement. Beauty, being reliant on form for Aristotle and subject to human desire necessarily demands that it is perceivable by humans, to exist. "to be beautiful, a living creature, and every whole made up of parts, must not only present a certain order in its arrangement of parts, but also be of a certain definite magnitude. Beauty is a matter of size and order, and therefore impossible either in a very minute creature, since our perception becomes indistinct as it approaches instantaneity; or in a creature of vast size one, say, 1,000 miles long - as in that case, instead of the object being seen all at once, the unity and wholeness of it is lost to the beholder. Poetics 1450b.35 Not only is a "definite magnitude necessary in order that something can be regarded as beautiful, beauty is infact "impossible" if it exceeds the bounds of our senses, or understanding. Beauty while being an objective quality based upon certain natural and lawful arrangements is nevertheless dependent on a human viewer to exist, one could even say it only exist in the human mind. This notion of the comprehensibility of beauty, and its finite nature bound to form is perhaps where Plato and Aristotle differ the most. While Aristotle places it in human hands, Platos Idea of Beauty constantly points at its infinite nature, its formlessness and mans inability to fully grasp it. While man and nature create Aristotles beauty, Platos Beauty creates man and nature. "drawing towards and contemplating the vast sea of beauty... at last the vision is revealed to him of a single science, which is the science of beauty everywhere... ... when he comes towards the end will suddenly perceive a nature of wondrous beauty... a nature which in the first place is everlasting, not ... .in any form of speech or knowledge, or existing in any other being... .. or in heaven, or in earth... . but beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting, which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is imparted to the ever-growing and perishing beauties of all other things " The Symposium. While man and nature create Aristotles beauty, Platos Beauty creates man and nature. Jonah Cacioppe

2001 Bibliography Initiation into the Philosophy of Plato. Rapheal. Shepheard-Walwyn publishers. London. 1984 Minimalism in the Visual Arts The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright 1994, 2000, Columbia University Press. The Philosophy of Modern Art By Herbert Read. Faber and Faber. London 1964 The Journey. A search for the role of contempoary art in religious and spiritual life. Usher Gallery and Redcliffe Press. 1991 A World History of Art. John Flemming & Hugh Honour. Laurence King publishing. UK 1984 Philebus Plato. Edited by Betty Radice. Penguin Group. London 1982 Realism in 20th century painting. Brendan Prendeville. Thames and Hudson. London 2000

The Contemplation of Beauty: An Avenue to Communication with the Lord


HANS-WILHELM KELLING

Hans-Wilhelm Kelling was a professor of Germanic and Slavic languages at Brigham Young University when this devotional address was given on 9 July 1985. Brigham Young University. All rights reserved. Complete volumes of Speeches are available wherever LDS books are sold. For further information contact: Speeches, 218 University Press Building, Provo, Utah 84602. (801) 422-2299 / E-mail: speeches@byu.edu / Speeches Home Page

One of the prevailing and enduring challenges that man faces during his sojourn on this earth is how he can learn to effectively communicate with God. How can man open the channels of communication? How does God reveal Himself to man? What can man do to receive assurance that God is aware of man's existence and his problems? Questions such as these have been asked by men throughout the ages, sometimes very poignantly and eloquently by philosophers, poets, and prophets. Prophets, of course, viewed from the average man's frame of reference, seem to enjoy a very special relationship with our Heavenly Father and appear to communicate with ease. After all, they have direct access to the Lord and can speak with Him face-to-face, and sometimes they do so in a most remarkable and human manner. Speaking with God Face-to-Face To me, Moses is the finest example in biblical history of a prophet speaking with God face-to-face in a manner that reveals a unique and intimate relationship between God and man. Let me recall the famous dialogue as it is recorded in the book of Exodus. Moses had fled from the Egyptian court and was tending the sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro, when one day he approached Mount Horeb, a mountain which was sacred to the Lord Jehovah. Attracted by a burning bush that was not, however, consumed by the flames, Moses hears the voice of Jehovah calling him, "Moses, Moses!" and he answers, "Here am I." The Lord then warns him not to come any closer and to remove his shoes from his feet for he is standing on holy ground. Next, He identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the distinguished ancestors of Moses. . . . I am the God of thy father; the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. . . . . . . I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land . . . flowing with milk and honey. . . . Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. [Exodus 3:610] Now let us assume for a moment that we were in Moses' place and had just been given these instructions. Besides being frightened and barely able to mumble our consent, we would probably attempt to hurry as fast as we could out of the Lord's presence and carry out His command as expeditiously as possible. But not Moses. Not only does he keep his composure, which is extraordinary enough, but he communicates in an utterly uncomplicated and human way his profound reservations. In short, he says he cannot do it. And Moses said unto God, who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? [Exodus 3:11] Why should he question the Lord's choice? Had he not been carefully trained at the Pharaoh's court in the art of statecraft, administration, and leading people? And did he not know how to deal with kings and court officials? Who was better prepared than Moses? Nevertheless, the Lord understands and empathizes and assures His servant that He will be with him. But Moses thinks of new objections: "The Israelites will put me to the test

and ask about thy name." Patiently the Lord tells Moses how to reply and then charges him to gather together the elders, go with them before Pharaoh, and request permission to perform sacrifices. Again He assures Moses that He will be with him and manifest His power unto Pharaoh. Now, after this long and patient discourse, does Moses go? Listen! And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee. [Exodus 4:1] So the Lord performs several miracles to demonstrate His power and to convince Moses He indeed will be able to protect him and be at his side. Does Moses go now? Slowly we are getting the impression that Moses is not really too anxious to do what Jehovah wants him to do. And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. [Exodus 4:10] I really find no evidence in the text or in the dialogue that Moses is either slow of wit or slow of tongue, and he certainly does not seem to lack courage. I find him rather quick of wit and quick of tongue. But still the Lord is long-suffering, although I now detect a touch of impatience in His answer, which is much shorter than previous replies and has a distinct curtness to it. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, hand teach thee what thou shalt say. [Exodus 4:11, 12] Now, certainly Moses will finally go. He is running out of excuses. But no, he simply informs the Lord that He has chosen the wrong man for this assignment: . . . O my Lord, send, I pray thee . . . him whom thou wilt send [but not me!]. [Exodus 4:13] At this time we expect lightning to strike, but although the Lord becomes angry, He controls His wrath and still accommodates Moses by telling him that He will permit his brother Aaron to accompany him and be the spokesman. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. . . . And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be . . . to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs. [Exodus 4:1417] With that the conversation abruptly ends. It seems that the Lord quickly disappears and leaves Moses to ponder the momentous events that have transpired. The rest is history. I cannot help but admire and envy the marvelous relationship that prophets have with God. To speak with Him in such an honest and forthright manner, to tell Him of reservations and anxieties, and to have Him respond in a patient and understanding way must appear to most of us to be an impossible dream. Why can't we speak with the Lord like Moses? Or like Abraham, who bargained for the lives of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and wrestled from God a promise that He would spare the cities if ten righteous people could be

found inside them? Or Jonah, who, much like Moses, tried to avoid carrying out a difficult mission so that God had to prepare a huge fish to transport him back to the shores of Nineveh? Then, when he had preached, and the inhabitants of the city had repented and turned to the Lord, he became angry with God for sparing the city. Can you imagine being angry with the Lord, or, even more so, the Lord understanding and forgiving such behavior? Communicating Through the Spirit I have made the point that prophets are privileged to communicate with God in a marvelously direct and wondrous manner. Such direct, face-to-face communication will forever remain an impossibility for the vast majority of mankind; nevertheless, communication with God is possible for us also. Although it is not likely that Jehovah will summon us from a burning bush, we can approach Him in the privacy of our room or some secluded spot in nature and tell Him our frustrations, our reservations, our failures, our inadequacies, and our faults. It may seem to us that such a conversation is rather one-sided, that we hear but one voice--our own. However, we can learn to hear the Lord's voice also, but we must be patient and we must be prepared to wait-sometimes for a long, long time--and we must listen carefully. Perhaps we have to struggle at first, like Enos did. And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens. [Enos 4] To Enos the voice of the Lord Jehovah came through the spirit: And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying . . . [Enos 10] In section 8 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord tells us how He communicates His will to most of us: Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. [D&C 8:2] These remarkable scriptures tell us that we can also communicate with the Father--even, perhaps, as honestly as Moses and Abraham and Jonah, except not face-to-face like Moses did, but through the Spirit like Enos. Sometimes, after we may have tried for a very long time unsuccessfully to open the windows of heaven, we might despair--but so did the prophets, even the Savior. Remember the agonizing cry when Christ was hanging on the cross and the Father had withdrawn: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [Matthew 27:46] Many of us here can identify with that soul-wrenching question. Certainly the great German reformer Martin Luther could, who, after years of painful and desperate struggle to understand God's will, was finally able to love and trust God again, when he learned to understand that Christ's terrifying forsaken state was but temporary, that Elohim had left Him only for a while to receive Him to His bosom after He had accomplished His great atoning sacrifice. When Luther finally comprehended this truth, he began to understand that the Lord had not abandoned him permanently either, but was preparing him for the work of the Reformation. We recall also the terrifying months during which the Prophet Joseph and the Saints in Missouri had to endure all manner of humiliation, degradation, and terrible persecution while he was helplessly imprisoned in that abominable jail in Liberty, Missouri. O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?

How long shall thy hand he stayed, and thine eye . . . behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries? . . . O Lord God Almighty, . . . stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us. . . . Remember thy suffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever. [D&C 121:16] Some of us, especially the older ones among us, understand this kind of communication all too well. Have we not wondered and cried: "Why hast thou forsaken me?" or "Where art thou Lord?" However, if we are humble and patient enough, we will learn that God has not forsaken us, as He did not forsake His son or His prophet Joseph. While the avenues of prophetic communication are not open to us in the same way as they were open to Moses or Joseph, and while communication through the Spirit may be difficult and sometimes frustrating, there is another avenue that is readily available to all of us--an avenue which we might try, if we have not yet done so, an avenue which will certainly lead us to experience God's beauty and love in a most remarkable way. For the rest of my time today, I wish to suggest such a way which has been a source of much inspiration and joy to me in my life and has revealed God to me. This is the way of beauty--the aesthetic experience. The Contemplation of Beauty For Latter-day Saints, the aesthetic experience (that is the experience with beauty), should have special significance, since beauty is an important avenue to the enjoyment of reality, toward learning about our own sensitivities and the deeper levels of our soul, and it is--at the same time--an avenue to encountering God and communicating with Him. Greek and medieval philosophers believed that man could get closer to the absolute ideal--we would call it God today--through contemplation of beauty. Absolute beauty, according to Plato, is not encountered on earth. However, various reflections of it can be encountered by mortal man in what Plato calls "an ascending order" (Symposium, 211). This order begins with the physical beauty of nature and art and then ascends upward through various fair forms and ideas to fair practices and, finally, to what Plato calls "beauty absolute" and which the church fathers call God. "He who has learned to see beauty in due order and succession, when he comes towards the end, will perceive a nature of wondrous beauty . . . beauty absolute" (Symposium, 211). Allow me to paraphrase what the philosopher is saying here so that we can understand it from our frame of reference. As we learn to see beauty in nature and in art we will progress in our thinking toward the author and creator of such beauty, who is God. Thus the contemplation of beauty will lead us into communion with God, which should be one of man's greatest quests. "This is the life above all others which man should live, in the contemplation of beauty absolute," says Socrates in the Symposium, or, in other words, "This is the life above all others which man should live, in the contemplation of God." He continues and says that once we have learned to behold the beauty of God we will no longer seek after mundane things like "gold" or beautiful "garments." Then he makes a profound observation on which I will elaborate: Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he [the observer of beauty absolute] will be enabled to bring forth . . . true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may. [Symposium, 212] We are surrounded by the beauty of nature, even on this university campus. How I appreciate the efforts of those men and women who labor to plant the flowers, prune the trees, and groom the lawns, and yet how many there are of us who pass by heedlessly or who mar the beauty by thoughtless action. In his prayer "For This World," Walter Rauschenbusch expresses my feelings rather eloquently:

We thank thee [O Lord] for our senses by which we can see the splendor of the morning and hear the jubilant songs of love, and smell the breath of the springtime. Grant us, we pray thee, a heart wide open to all this joy and beauty, and save our souls from being so steeped in care or so darkened by passion that we pass heedless and unseeing when even the thornbush by the wayside is aflame with the glory of God. [A Rauschenbusch Reader; the Kingdom of God and the Social Gospel, compo Benson Y. Landis (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957), p. 151] This ability to see, this vision--the contemplation of beauty absolute--has been the pursuit of the poet, the painter, the musician, the prophet--in short, of the sensitive man. Yet it is very difficult for most artists to successfully translate the vision into reality, and only some have been blessed with that ability. One of these is Michelangelo, who beheld the glory and beauty of God and revealed it to us in the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and in the statues of David, Moses, and the Pieta. Here the vision has been painted in brilliant color and chiseled in glorious white Carrara marble. The ideals of youth and wisdom and courage and beauty and godliness have been cast into perfect form, the harmonious fusion of idea and form perfectly achieved. Such a miracle stirs our soul to the very depths because here we encounter beauty in its sublimest revelation, in the realization that God has revealed Himself in the form of this magnificent art. And as we thus confront David or Moses or thePieta--or, rather, as they confront us--we communicate with God. We are made aware of our own capacity to feel and to love, to feel the majesty and grandeur of God and His magnificence-feelings that are difficult to describe. Perhaps you have not yet experienced such feelings as you were confronted with great art or great music or great literature, but perhaps you have as you contemplated the "driving clouds, the constellations in the sky, or the everlasting hills." Again, it is the poet who verbalizes this experience in language that uplifts us. As he views the stars and the galaxies moving in their appointed ways, his soul begins to expand and yearn for union with the Creator: Und meine Seele spannte Weit ihre Flgel aus, Flog durch die stillen Lande, Als flge sie nach Haus. (My soul spread out its wings widely and was lifted up as if it were to meet God in our heavenly home.) [Joseph von Eichendorff, "Mondnacht," in Gedichte (Stuttgart: J. G. Cotta, 1957), p. 306] As we are humbled by the grandeur and magnificence of beauty in art or in nature, we are at the same time also elevated and lifted up--brought home, as the poet says, brought into communication with the Lord, who is beauty and truth. It is only through the morning gate of the beautiful that you can penetrate into the realm of knowledge. That which we feel here as beauty we shall one day know as truth. [Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, quoted by Charles N. Douglas, Forty Thousand Sublime and Beautiful Thoughts, vol. 1 (New York: The Christian Herald, 1904), p. 152] Out of this dual mood--humility and exaltation--arises man's awareness of his own inner depth and of his internal resources and the realization that the author of the sublime beauty and of the feelings of exaltation is God, the creator of heaven and earth. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very [beautiful]. [Genesis 1:31]

Actually, as you know, the scripture does not read "beautiful" but "good," but the beautiful and the good are really one and the same, and the philosophers, of course, have made us aware of the intimate relationship between the aesthetic experience and morality. Let me recall Plato's profound statement in the Symposium which I quoted above: The observer of beauty absolute, the person who beholds eternal and divine beauty "will be enabled to bring forth . . . true virtue" so that he becomes "the friend of God" and, in a sense, "immortal." Only through the contemplation of beauty--divine beauty, not the beauty of the world and of fashion, which is so prominently displayed around us today--does man become good. In one of his sonnets, Michelangelo, the painter of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, expresses this idea: Any beauteous thing raises the pure and just desire of man from earth to God, the eternal font of all (see The Sonnets of Michael Angelo Buonarroti, trans. John A. Symonds [London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1878], nos. LIV and LVI). This was also the credo of the German idealists, Goethe and Schiller, who believed that there is no more powerful antidote to sensuality, wickedness, and selfishness than the adoration of beauty, and they considered beauty at once as the ultimate and the highest aim of art and literature. You may have noticed in your own experience with divine art or music that a calmness descended upon your soul which gradually stilled all passion and selfish desire. The next time you view a magnificent work of art, or the expanse of the universe at night, or as you listen to the words of an inspired poet or prophet or the sublime chords of a musical composition, take inventory and watch if that calmness does not descend upon your soul again. Do we not resolve in those moments to become a better person? Does not the Spirit of Christ--or the Holy Ghost, if you wish--draw us toward the bosom of the Father and purify our soul? I would like to emphasize that I am not speaking of fads or fashions, the type of art and music and poetry and dress and grooming and behavior which is frequently identified with a particularly popular group or pseudophilosophical movement. Some call this beautiful, but I do not. Here, I believe, beauty and grace are sacrificed all too often to vulgarity and temporary fixation, and we would seek in vain for inspiration or a lifting up of our soul. That beauty which uplifts and ennobles is godlike and unchanging and transports us into His eternal divine presence. It makes us aware of His glory and majesty, it makes us feel the warmth of His love, which manifests itself in Christ, who atoned for us on the cross and opened wide the doors leading into the realms of everlasting beauty. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day . . . when . . . I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description. He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness . . . beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. . . . His whole person was, glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. [Joseph Smith--History 1:14, 17; 31, 32] These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical. [D&C 76:70] And if your eye be single to my glory [my beauty], your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and his own way, and according to his own will. [D&C 88:6768] May we draw near to the Lord and feel communication with Him as we learn to reach Him on His level and in His sphere.

I pray that the Lord will unveil His face and His glory unto us when we contemplate His beauty as it is revealed in the art of the masters and the splendor of nature that surrounds us, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Studies In Comparative Philosophy


by Swami Krishnananda

Plato
To Plato, worthy disciple of Socrates, philosophy is the 'dear delight', which aims at the knowledge of the Universal Being, Reality. Sense-perception cannot reveal the nature of Reality but gives only appearance. True knowledge is knowledge that knows itself as knowledge, knowledge based on reasons, knowledge that is sure of its own ground. Evidently, Plato here means by knowledge that which is not dependent on its contents or external objects and which corresponds with the ideal consciousness of the Reality propounded in the Vedanta. Consciousness, to the Vedanta, if it is to be genuine, knows itself alone as the Absolute Being. This knowledge is above sense-perception and is identical with existence itself. It is 'chit' (Consciousness) which is the same as 'sat' (Existence). Plato's vision of the genuine knowledge of True Being is the Indian sage's Darshana (vision) of the Absolute. To Plato, love of truth is aroused by the contemplation of the beautiful ideas. Contemplation of beauty is the way to the contemplation of Truth. Love of Truth creates a distaste for sense-objects and raises us beyond sense-perception, from the particular to the Idea, the Universal. The Idea or the Notion is inherent in the Soul, it does not come from senseexperience by way of induction. Man, to him, is the measure of things, for in man's soul are imbedded universal principles or ideas which are a priori. If, by the contemplation of beauty, Plato means dwelling upon objects of sense, which appear beautiful to perception, the Vedanta would deny that such a contemplation is the way to the knowledge of Reality. For beauty is not objectively existent and it has its being in certain relations brought about by the contact of the subject and the object. Beauty is a relative value and not an absolute principle. Here, we discover a great difference between the Greek conception of the meaning and value of beauty and the Indian view thereon. The constitution of beauty changes itself when the constitution of the perceiver of the beauty is changed in relation to the objective conditions which play an important role in the enjoyment of all aesthetic values. But, if Plato means by beauty the Reality underlying things, the Vedanta has no objection to accepting that the contemplation of beauty is the way to the realisation of Truth.

The love of Truth mentioned by Plato, which is said to bring about a dispassion for objects of sense is akin to the nitya-anitya-vastu-viveka (discrimination between the real and the unreal) mentioned in the Vedanta, as the precondition of real vairagya (distaste for senseobjects). It is this love of Truth, devotion to the Eternal, that gives life and value to the sadhana or spiritual practice undertaken by the seeker of knowledge. It is this, again, that raises the individual to the Universal by bringing about a total transfiguration in the individual. The Vedanta says, as does Plato, that this viveka (understanding), the higher discrimination, does not come through the senses but wells up from within the Soul when the mind is sufficiently purified by freedom from the lower appetites. Viveka is a priori knowledge in a higher sense. Knowledge, according to Plato, is the correspondence of thought and Reality, or Being. The universal idea of Truth, goodness and beauty, for example, must have objects or realities corresponding to them. The idea is an ideal which must be real and have an existence, independent of some thought. This highest rule or Truth is the object of genuine knowledge, different from mere opinion in regard to the world which is changing, fleeting, transient, mere appearance. True Being is unchangeable, Eternal. Here Plato brings Heraclitus and Parmenides together and transcends them in his higher idealism. Plato declares that knowledge of Eternal Being is true knowledge. This knowledge is identified with thought, conceptual thought, which alone is said to grasp the Eternal. True knowledge is conceptual knowledge. According to the Vedanta, lower, relative knowledge consists in the correspondence of thought and its object, but in the higher, universal knowledge there is no correspondence but identity, for, in universal knowledge the knower and the known are one. The Vedanta would accept rather the coherence theory in its epistemology than the theory of correspondence, as far as trans-empirical knowledge is concerned. But it has no objection to the correspondence theory as far as empirical knowledge is concerned. The Vedanta metaphysics accepts, in agreement with Plato's, that the objects of thought cannot be absolutely unreal and that they ought to have realities behind them. This is true even of ordinary thought, for all thought in the world of experience is tremendously influenced by the materials supplied by the senses. The unchangeable Eternal of Plato is the kutasthanitya (immutable Reality) of the Vedanta, to which true knowledge is not conceptual or mere thought, for such knowledge consists in Self-realisation where thought expires in experience. In his famous 'Doctrine of Ideas' Plato holds that the Ideas behind particulars are the essences, the substantial realities existing as the archetypes of all things. These Ideas are

not mere thoughts in the minds of men, but are independent, and even the Thought of God is dependent on these eternal transcendent essences which exist prior to all things, unaffected by the changes characteristic of the appearances. The particulars of Plato are copies or imperfect representations of the universal Ideas. The universals such as horseness, manness, etc. exist independent of horses, men, etc. These ideas constitute a well-ordered relational cosmos and do not merely form some disordered chaos. There is an organic interrelatedness among these Ideas which are all logically arranged to be finally subsumed under the Supreme Idea, the Idea of the Good. The Idea of the Good is the ultimate cause of all causes and is the absolutely real Being. Truth, Reality and the Good are the same. Plato holds that the unity of the Good is meaningful only when there is plurality, and that there can be no plurality without unity. The universe is a logical system of Ideas, an organic unity of spiritual entities. This system is determined by the absolute purpose of the Idea of the Good. Philosophy is conceived by Plato to be the pursuit of the knowledge of the Idea of the Good in this rational system of a moral and spiritual cosmos. It is natural that a doubt should arise in the mind of a careful student of philosophy as to the validity of Plato's view that the universals such as horseness, etc., are prior to and exist independent of particulars, such as horses, etc. We arrive at the idea of the universal, e.g. horseness, by perceiving through the senses particular objects, e.g. horses. It would thus appear that we arrive at the universal through the particulars by way of induction. Unless Plato is accepted to have had a supersensuous intuition of universals, his theory of the universals as preceding the particulars cannot be logically established. Plato says his ideas are not mere thoughts existing in men's brains but are independent realities. There is no way of justifying this view when the universals are confined to the abstract notions which people have of the general behind particular objects of sense-perception. The Vedanta would not agree with Plato in holding the view that even God's Thought is 'dependent' on these universal Ideas, though God's Thought is the cause of the manifestation of the physical universe, which process the Vedanta terms Ishvara-Srishti, and which becomes the basis of men's having the notion or idea of universals. If the particulars should be mere imperfect copies or shadows of the universal Ideas, the latter should not be confined to any faculty that is present in the particulars, including men, but should be given extramental realities ranging beyond human perception. This is exactly what Plato does, but he seems to identify these universal Ideas with these notions of the general, such as horseness, which cannot be given an independent reality of their own. Plato's Ideas can be independent realities only when they constitute the very stuff of God's Thought and not something on

which even God's Thought is to depend. If the universal Ideas are not God's Thoughts, they must be men's thoughts, in which case they cannot be eternal realities. It is not necessary for the Vedanta that the unity of the Real should be based on plurality, for, to it, plurality belongs to the relative world which does not affect the Real even in the least. There is no permanency in plurality, and what is not permanent is not real. Even according to Plato, the rational universe is an organic system in which case it is necessary to posit a universal consciousness existing as the Soul of the universe. It is hard to understand how the unity of this Soul can be dependent upon plurality of any kind. We can try to bring about a reconciliation between Plato and the Vedanta only by making the Ideas of Plato Ideas in the Mind of God, which are causes even of human individuality and not such universals as horseness etc., which are mere abstract notions. And we have also to understand by the Good not the ethical principle of goodness but the Absolute justification behind it, the supreme good and blessedness of all beings.

Plato (Continued)
Plato's world of sense is not an illusion created by the senses but is reality of a much lower order than the Ideas. To the Vedanta, the world is ishvara-srishti, a creation of God, and is vyavaharika-satta or empirical reality, which has the value of practical workability. The world is not an illusion created by the mind of man as some extreme subjectivists hold, but is a reality co-existent with the body of the Virat, the grossest appearance of the Creative Consciousness. The Vedanta makes a distinction between cosmic creation and individual imagination, technically termed ishvara-srishti and jiva-srishti. It is the imagination of the individual that is the cause of its bondage and not the mere existence of the universe as an object of perception. To the Vedanta, the world and the individual are co-relative realities which arise simultaneously and also vanish simultaneously in the realisation of the Absolute. The two do not have between them the relation of the superior and the inferior or of cause and effect. The individual is a part of the universe and it is only the imaginations of the former that can be called illusions, not the presence of the latter. Plato posits another principle, namely, matter, different from the Ideas, which forms the appearances constituting phenomenal experience. By itself matter or the sense-world is qualityless, nothing; it derives values from the reality of the Ideas which give form and value to it. To the Vedanta, the phenomenal world consists of nama-rupa, names and forms, and has by itself no other quality, no essence or substantiality other than satchidananda, or existence-knowledge-bliss, which is the threefold constitutive

essence and sole reality underlying all things. The world is dependent on Brahman, and independently the world is nothing. Here Plato and the Vedanta are one. The diversity of the material world is, according to Plato, the dissipated appearance of the eternal Ideas which range beyond sense and opinion. The phenomenal world is real to the extent it is informed by the Ideas. Like theprakriti of the Samkhya, Plato's matter is a realm of unconscious activity and blind causality, which is raised to the status of being guided by a conscious purpose and having an intelligent teleological movement by the interference of the rational Ideas which act here in a manner akin to that of the purushas of the Samkhya. But the Samkhya holds that matter is an eternal entity, while the matter of Plato is valueless without the eternal informing Ideas. What is real is consciousness and the degree to which consciousness manifests itself in the appearances determines the degree of reality put on by the appearances. Plato appears to feel that matter is an unwilling self of the Ideas. In the philosophy of the Vedanta, matter is not an entity isolated from the realm of eternity but is merely an appearance of the Eternal through space, time and causation. The activities of the material world are all consciously directed towards the fulfilment of the cosmic purpose of Selfrealisation. Matter is not an unwilling self but a willing cooperator in the grand scheme of the cosmos. Matter appears to be an impediment when the Spirit is forgotten, but when one consciously and deliberately puts forth efforts towards the realisation of the Spirit in one's own self, one would discover that the material universe becomes a stepping stone in the process of this grand ascent. One would however be inclined to say that Plato's system smacks of dualism, a division between the Ideal world and the real world, between the eternal and the temporal, though it is to be accepted that his system is a perfectly spiritual one. Ardent followers of Plato, however, would feel that his system is non-dualistic on account of his insistence on the sole reality of the Idea of the Good. But this is rather an interpretation than a discovery. All depends upon how much reality Plato credited to his phenomenal world of appearances. In his cosmology, Plato comes nearer to the Nyaya and the Vaiseshika philosophies than the other schools. His Demiurge merely fashions a world out of matter and mind which exist already. The Demiurge is not the actual creator of the world, but an architect like the God of the Nyaya and the Vaiseshika, an extra-cosmic being needed just to bring the existing material together to form the world. The ideas which exist as the contents of the creative mind of the God of Plato may be compared with the subtle variegated modes manifest in the Hiranyagarbha of the Vedanta. But Hiranyagarbha is not merely a fashioner of the

material existing as the subtle universe, but this universe constitutes the very body of Hiranyagarbha. Sometimes Plato calls these Ideas "That which is", the only reality. But as long as these Ideas reveal plurality in them the attribution of absolute reality to them is hardly tenable. The Hiranyagarbha of the Vedanta is not the ultimate reality but a cosmic principle which explains the unity underlying the diversified universe but itself falls under the relative categories of phenomenal existence. Further, Plato declares the dynamic character of the Ideas, their activity and creativity, which makes it clear that they are far from being the unchangeable eternal. Plato's Demiurge creates a World-Soul which imparts to the universe the character of an organism. The World-Body came into being after the pattern of the image of the Ideas which impress their stamp on the World-Soul. All these bear striking resemblances to the threefold appearance of the Creator as Ishvara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat in the Vedanta. It is, however, curious that the World-Soul of Plato is stigmatised as an evil principle, though Plato shrinks from emphasising this point too much and would easily assign the seeds of imperfection to man himself. Plato holds that knowledge is not a fresh acquisition of any new thing but a reminiscence, an anamnesis, of a previous knowledge. Sensation is not the source of knowledge; sensation merely incites the rational part of the soul to function as knowledge which is hidden in it. The soul has knowledge in it even before it comes in contact with objects through sense. It is the view of Plato that the soul has forgotten its original essential nature of the knowledge of Ideas and is only reminded of this knowledge when it contacts the copies of these Ideas in the world of sense. Knowledge is a rediscovery of what is present within but has been forgotten on account of the soul's encasement in material body. When the lower nature is overcome, the soul rediscovers its past glory of true inborn knowledge in a disembodied state. Plato thus establishes the pre-existence of the soul and its immortality. The Vedanta holds in agreement with Plato that there is a magazine of knowledge and power within us already. We have only to discover and realise it through deep meditation, and, metaphysically, it accepts that all that we know here is merely an imperfect representation of the Absolute. But it would not accept that in sense-perception there is any conscious recognition of the super-sensuous Reality. The embodied soul is not reminded of the metempirical entities in its empirical perception; what it sees is merely a presentation of material bodies which it confuses with Reality. There is no remembrance whatsoever of the

Eternal in sense-perception, though metaphysically it is true that all empirical urge is a distorted shadow of one's love for the Eternal. Plato says that the perception of sensuous beauty is an indication of the aspiration of the soul for Immortal Being. A memory of the Ideal Beauty is aroused in the soul in sense-love. The Vedanta, too, recognises the significance of sense-love in life and it can become a step towards the Eternal, when the process is consciously directed. But sensuous beauty is a distorted and untrustworthy shadow of Divine Being. It is true that the reality of the Divine is reflected in all things; but what attracts the embodied soul in sensuous beauty is not the Divine element but the possibility of a satisfaction of the imperfect side of its nature through finding and contacting its counterpart in the beautiful object. Beauty, as such, is never seen; only the objectification of desire is seen in the beloved objects. It is what the Vedanta calls jiva srishti that creates beauty in things; but Plato makes it a part of ishvara-srishti or extramental reality. There cannot be the perception of beauty without subject-objectrelationship, and in Eternal Being all relations are merged in unity. Yes; the Supreme Being is present in all things as their sole reality, but it is not what is beheld in sense-perception, though it is to be conceded that any perception would be impossible but for this reality behind things. Beauty is the result of the interaction of the modes of the incompleteness of human experience and their corresponding counterparts, which brings about an experience of equilibrium, filledness, an all-possessing feeling of repose, a sense of symmetry, rhythm, harmony, system, order and unity, which are ultimately the characteristics of the Absolute, but the Absolute is not 'consciously' experienced in aesthetic enjoyment, for here the characteristics of the Absolute are objectified and thus robbed of their true value, for the Absolute is realised in non-objective experience alone. Beauty is the reflection of the Absolute in sense-experience when the latter reveals a harmony caused by the contact of the subject with its counter-correlative; but this experience cannot lead to a realisation of the Absolute unless one is conscious of what is happening really when there is a perception of beauty, and one deliberately converts it into a stepping stone in the higher ascent.