22. Art and Morality

And thus the true poet, whether he writes verses or novels, is the greatest of teachers, not because he trains and drills the mind, but because he makes the thing he speaks of appear so beautiful and desirable that we are willing to undergo the training and drilling that are necessary to be made free of the secret. He brings out, as Plato beautifully said, “the beauty which meets the spirit like a breeze, and imperceptibly draws the soul, even in childhood, into harmony with the beauty of reason.” The work of the poet then is “to elicit the simplest principles of life, to clear away complexity, by giving a glowing and flashing motive to live nobly and generously, to renew the unspoiled growth of the world, to reveal the secret hope silently hidden in the heart of man.”


       Benson, Joyous Gard, Art and Morality


In Greek mythology the Elysian Fields was as beautiful meadow in the underworld where the blameless would go in the afterlife. There, one would enjoy a perfect and eternal happiness. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Much like heaven.


I think that it is the artist’s attempt to extract, from this world, glimpses of the Elysian Fields. But let’s face it, we are busy people, and we have little time to contemplate the things of beauty. Our attention seems most often scattered and on the “things” of life.” That’s why I believe it’s all the more important to develop the habit of restoring these glimpses of beauty in the mind. And it is my mission in the Joyous Gard Program™ to help you with that. By repeatedly calling you back to the things of beauty, my hope is that you will find your spirit to be like a gentle breeze.


Days 20-22 Guide


This weekend consider how you might help to support and more fully develop the habit of restoring thoughts of beauty. As I mentioned yesterday, try thinking like an artist by eliminating from your mental canvas all but the essential combination of things that would charm your spirit. Concentrate on finding beauty in simplicity.


© 2005, Levi Hill

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