You’ve heard of the halo effect, perhaps, that ascribes certain desirable traits to people who are attractive even if they don’t possess those traits, like kindness or intelligence. Though we spend a lot of time vexed by the powers of beauty and the attempts of the advertising culture to force-feed a certain type of beauty into our psyches, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Beauty, in a sacred sense is vital. It moves us. It compels us to change. It creates awe and wonder. In its true form — beauty as the divine ratio — is apparent in the smallest creature as well as in the solar system and planets, and beyond.
The contrived, politicized, patriarchal vision of beauty has nothing to do with the real thing. Airbrushed automatons plastered on the covers of magazines don’t represent the Da Vinci-esque ratio of perfection, nor the true beauty of nature. This beauty doesn’t tear us down. It rebuilds us.
A Japanese study, released by the University of Kyoto and published in Public Health, entitled, ‘Psychological effects of forest environments on healthy adults: Shinrin-yoku (forest-air bathing, walking) as a possible method of stress reduction‘ describes a link between walking in forests and reducing chronic stress, but why?
Leonardo Da Vinci used the divine proportion or golden ratio (also known as the Fibonacci sequence) in many of his own works, including his sketch of the Vitruvian Man, even before his collaboration with Pacioli, but even this artist was simply copying the beauty evident all around with eyes to see.
This divine architecture reminds us, even at a subconscious, cellular level that we need to align with it. This is why it is so pleasing to us when we see such exquisiteness on a simple walk in the forest. This beauty offered by nature is in every flower, in seed heads, pine cones, the organization of tree limbs, and in sea shells, but it is repeated even in galaxies. When we make contact with this divine beauty, we innately know if we are in alignment with it, or have somehow strayed from its inherent message.
Beauty, in its true form, is our touchstone to Creation. Animals, bees, bird flight patterns, human faces, even hurricanes are formed with these proportions. It is nature’s template for physical reality. The more imbued with beauty that we are, the more beautiful we become – because what we focus on, becomes our reality.
More importantly, beauty speaks to the soul. It has no value to our mortal bodies. We can’t eat it, or sell it – not the real thing. It doesn’t provide us warmth on a cold night but it does provide us nourishment – the kind that most of us are sorely uninformed we need. All that is beautiful leads to God. A reverence for nature, the creative arts, the keeping of a beautiful home, even.
We don’t need artificial intelligence or a billionaire’s dollars to remake a city. An artist’s hand and a few seeds can cover barren walls, and give us a sense of peace. Beauty makes us act differently. As one writer explains,
“If you’re in an environment where there’s a bunch of waste on the ground, it’s easy not to care for that place, to add your filth to the existing filth. By making a place beautiful, which often means simply peeling back the layers of what is already there, we remove the distractions. We are able to see the existing beauty more clearly, and we are able to start to begin to care.”
Beauty observed in the world around us makes us act more beautifully. We think more beautifully. We are reminded that we are the instruments of the Divine. Will you plant flowers, or will you plant trash. Will you re-create the divine or destroy it? Because we need beauty more than ever.