‘Withdraw into yourself and look; and if you do not find yourself beautiful as yet, do as does the sculptor of a statue …
cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is shadowed …
do not cease until there shall shine out on you the Godlike Splendor of Beauty; until you see temperance surely
established in the stainless shrine.
Plotinus , Ennead, 1, 6, 9.
It is all too easy to invoke the image of a complete,featureless void as a contrast to the persona (Greek for “mask”, actually)
we carry, as Armour and utility set – into the world. If we think upon matters spiritual, we reject as a reflex – every flaw,
every ambiguity, every complication; sitting here thinking about the spiritual in man we are ourselves that flaw, that ambiguity,
that complication – that cloud before our eyes of vision. So looking within becomes an escape into judgment and rejection,
the more we reach the more bleak our self become, the more possessive we grow on an unconscious level. Modern man has
evacuated the superior value into pasts long exiled to memory and futures beyond imagination, his images becomes mere
abstractions, with the added density of number, measure and taxonomy. Thus images are emptied before they are truly
inspected, in the light of our vision. For images have a relationship with their transcendent cause, whose imprint they
have become in the world of the Psyche. Wherefore, instead of being invoked at the threshold into the contemplative
life; wherein the Logos, through which everything came into existence – becomes life and light to every man that enters
into this world; and remembered every time a holy book is opened – Theophany has been buried in the sciences of history
and comparative study. Events outside of the soul motivates the soul to reach towards solutions that are directed towards
outward things, the more concrete the situation is experienced as exterior and outside the extension of self – the stronger
the measure taken to make concrete and opaque the contents of its interior. I intend with this observation nothing less than
provide a diagnosis of the tendency to ignore the relational information contained in the treasurehouse of images which
remains the nature of our religions – the relations become visible when external judgment is suspended or detained, wherein
we can observe what they are in the light of what we know are, and hopefully also determine the relationship that which
we know has being, through being alert to our actual existence, within ourselves. The featureless, empty void, while allotting
all kinds of calm and peace and harmony to the mind – says precisely nothing about what is real, about others, and about your
self, or any kind of soul. There is a season for it, just as there is a season for the Angelic, and for Theophany – for visions,
revelations, interior dialogue and exchange. Beauty has no place to go but into the heart by the awakened eye of vision,
and this eye can only look when it reaches, and this reaching towards necessarily needs an object, a subject,an other.
Knowledge of relations requires a transparency of self – not the annihilation of self, we know others through our selves
, using the experiential, emotive and self-cognitant in us as a medium.
The theophanic vision requires a capacity for this recognition, which is determined by the measure of this knowledge; both as it
relates to ourselves, as it relates to others, and in which way it ever reaches towards the divine in either of them.
If we withdraw into ourselves, and strip these our selves naked of all that is appended to them, all that garbs them because
we wish to conceal this nakedness – we should be able to see Beauty not only in these our selves, but also in others.
These other human beings will thereafter no longer appear as strangers and unknown, but intimately known and familiar
by way of this recognition.
Plato writes, in his Phaedo:
“It seems to me, if anything else is beautiful besides the Beautiful itself, it is beautiful through
nothing else than that it participates in that Beautiful: and all things I say likewise…
Nothing else makes it beautiful than the presence or communion of that Beautiful…
but that all beautiful things are beautiful by the Beautiful” (Phaedo, 100d4-8)
Thus recognition of the Soul, unattended by its tormentors, the passions and authorities, opens up Beauty at the level
of our participation; and likewise, recognition of Beauty in the Soul between us, opens up the Soul at the level of a communal
participation in Beauty.