We metabolize truth by the practice of learning and teaching, we metabolize beauty through appreciation and expression, and we can fully experience the spiritual nutrition of goodness through the practices of service and stillness.
The practice of truth involves the discernment of that which is most real in what we experience. Truth is like a light that illuminates the potential for progress, giving us the power to see how things really are, and thereby to improve any situation by making contact with actual conditions. The practice of beauty involves feeling the pleasure and delicious satisfaction that results when our emotions become entrained to the vibrations of universal unity found in nature and in certain forms of human art. Beauty provides a fleeting glimpse of relative actual perfection. According to Whitehead, “beauty is the final contentment of the Eros of the universe.”
And like the practices of truth and beauty, the practice of goodness can also be understood through the giving and receiving rhythm of service nurtured by stillness. Service is a way of communicating goodness to another person. But service doesn’t have to be about volunteering at the soup kitchen; the spiritual practice of service also includes all the ways that we can teach truth and express beauty. And we can receive goodness directly from its source through the spiritual experiences provided by contemplation, meditation, prayer, and worship; practices which might be collectively characterized as forms of stillness.
In my experience, the ideals of beauty, truth, and goodness represent philosophy’s finest hour — these are the concepts by which philosophy makes contact with the spiritual and helps to define the way forward from a middle ground in between science and religion. The concept of the primary values of beauty, truth, and goodness is a conceptual cathedral. And these concepts do produce spiritual experience in the way that they name and describe the “eternal forms” by which the “gentle persuasion” of evolution enacts the universe’s essential motion of consciousness seeking its source.
So it is from this perspective that we can perhaps begin to see how these primary values, these glimmers of relative and fleeting perfection, are truly the comprehensible elements of Deity — some of the most direct ways that we can experience the movement of spirit in the world.
*** this is an excerpt from an essay by Steve McIntosh entitled ‘ The Natural Theology Of Beauty, Truth, And Goodness’ on the website integralworld.net.
But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.