Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

Beauty cover

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Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, John O’Donohue, Harper Perennial, 2005

Beauty does not linger, it only visits.
Yet beauty’s visitation affects us and invites us into its rhythm,
it calls us to feel, think, and act beautifully in the world:
to create and live a life that awakens the Beautiful.
Beauty is a gentle but urgent call to awaken. Bestselling author John O’Donohue opens our eyes, hearts, and minds to the wonder of our own relationship with beauty by exposing the infinity and mystery of its breadth. His words return us to the dignity of silence, profundity of stillness, power of thought and perception, and the eternal grace and generosity of beauty’s presence. In this masterful and revelatory work, O’Donohue encourages our greater intimacy with beauty and celebrates it for what it really is: a homecoming of the human spirit. As he focuses on the classical, medieval, and Celtic traditions of art, music, literature, nature, and language, O’Donohue reveals how beauty’s invisible embrace invites us toward new heights of passion and creativity even in these uncertain times of global conflict and crisis.
This delightful book is an excellent complement to Universalist Radha-Krishnaism. It seems that which O’Donohue calls “Beauty,” I call “Radha-Krishna.” It is filled with such brilliant gems as the following:
All the frailty and uncertainty was seen to be ultimately sheltered by the eternal beauty which presides over all the journeys between awakening and surrender, the visible and the invisible, the light and the darkness. (2)
At first, it sounds completely naive to suggest that now might be the time to invoke and awaken beauty. Yet this is exactly the claim that this book explores. Why? Because there is nowhere else to turn and we are desperate; furthermore, it is because we have so disastrously neglected the Beautiful that we now find ourselves in such terrible crisis. (3)
As Frederick Turner puts it, ‘Beauty . . . is the highest integrative level of understanding and the most comprehensive capacity for effective action. It enables us to go with, rather than against, the deepest tendency or theme of the universe.’ (7)
In contrast, beauty offers us refreshment, elevation and remembrance of our true origin and real destination. In this sense, the Beautiful is the true priestess of individuation, inviting us to engage the infinite design that shapes our days and dreams. She does not force on us any manufactured coherence towards which we must falsely strain; this is the diametrical opposite of all forms of fundamentalism. She invites us to surrender so that we can participate in the forming of a new and vital coherence that is native to our desire. In such unsheltered and uncertain times we yearn for this order and coherence, which brings the emerging forms of our own growth into rhythm with the concealed order of creation. (8)
The Beautiful stirs passion and urgency in us and calls us forth from aloneness into the warmth and wonder of an eternal embrace. It unites us again with the neglected and forgotten grandeur of life. (13)
There are many other fine examples I could give, but I recommend you purchase the book. I deeply resonated with it and found it most pleasing to my soul.

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