Life's True Happiness is
Goodness, Truth & Beauty
by Jef Bartow
After last month's article on death, I debated whether to include another set of principles, or just leave it at that. As I meditated, I found it rather easy to come up with another seven beyond the first nine outlined in previous articles. So, let's begin another series at this summer solstice. I believe in more than one previous article, I have outlined my perspective on human nature and happiness. Simply, humans seek security, comfort and happiness in life. The reality is that each of these is a fantasy. We may convince ourselves that we are secure, comfortable and happy, but for everyone except the rare individual living only the good karma, these illusions are temporal and fleeting. Therefore regarding happiness, I have always promoted seeking and expressing joy in life, which will lead us to its spiritual counterpart of bliss and ecstasy. I have used the word happiness in the title of this article to help ground the real states of bliss, ecstasy and joy into our normal day-to-day reality. As we will see, truth is really our reality. Further, in defining beauty we will see how it takes on a far greater dimension that we were taught as children. Finally, the term goodness completes the trinity and synthesizes that trinity into a spiritual, but not necessarily religious, principle to live by.
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This spiritual Trinity begins with Goodness. Philosophically, Goodness began with Plato's affirmation that "God is wholly good." Christian thought combined this with the "Hebraic vision of Yahweh's righteousness" into St. Thomas Aquinas’s pronouncement that "God is sheer goodness, whereas other things are credited with some sort of goodness appropriate to their natures." In his metaphysics, goodness is one of the "transcendentals,.. being predictable of every being and cutting across the Aristotelian categories." The Bible confirms this exalted position of goodness in Christ’s comments that "there is none good but one, that is, God." Many of Christ’s comments regarding good are for us to do good: "for a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit." Interestingly, Aquinas also relates goodness to Justice. "God’s Justice is sometimes called doing what befits goodness,... to be good is to be of value, where value is consequent on perfection (since we value it makes for perfection), and perfection is a degree of achieved actuality." "Good… expresses the notion of value and perfection, and thus the notion of completeness." So, doing what befits goodness is doing what is valuable and makes for completion and perfection (as much as perfection can be achieved). In living our life for goodness, we act in God's place and presence. This brings us to truth. One way I define truth is from the small print in Webster's Dictionary: "truth suggests conformity with reality, either as an idealized abstraction or actual application." The other side of truth is it's subjective nature. As a characteristic of Spirit, Truth is an all-embracing "what is." This "what is" seems to me to be without boundary. As my consciousness expands, the all-inclusiveness of what Truth is expands. Philosophically, there are also two sides of truth. There is a presentational concept of truth, which is "experience for itself," and a metaphoric concept of truth, which is "reference to something undefined or ineffable, an experience that ‘points to’ this mysterious reality." The subjective nature of Truth is intimately intertwined with intent. Our truth becomes the reality we create based on intent. Whatever we create based on intent is truth for us. There is no absolute truth, only the Truth of us fulfilling our destiny within God's Love and plan. The third piece which brings our trinity into equilibrium is Beauty. Simply, Beauty is another characteristic of Spirit. Within our personality, Beauty becomes the quality that evokes our highest sense of pleasure (joy, appreciation, elation and zeal) through its aesthetic expression in life. This pleasure is simply a material emotional counterpart to the higher inspirational bliss, ecstasy and rapture. This outer Beauty is what reveals Spirit into Matter St. Aquinas defines three conditions of Beauty: perfection, proportion (or harmony) and brightness and clarity. He equates clarity with "splendor of form." As part of the spiritual world, Beauty shines in "company with the celestial forms beyond the pale of appearances." The inner component of Beauty reveals how Beauty relates to Goodness and Truth. Abstract Beauty "bears the transcendent." Plato determined that "Beauty is a form or mode of goodness." Aristotle concurred by saying that "good and beautiful are the origin both of knowledge and the movement of many things." Plotinus zeros in on Beauty as being a "manifestation of the spiritual force that animates all reality." I integrate these views of Beauty in that Beauty is the mode of goodness (Spirit) that bears the transcendent, which is the splendor of what a form comes from. Beauty does express a godlike form shining beyond the pale of appearances. It is the perfect proportion and clarity that lies behind the appearance of forms. When one sees Beauty, one glimpses through the transparency to the reality of the One, Spirit. Having defined what each term in our principle here means, we're now in a position to delineate this principle within our principle-centered spirituality. Not so simply, finding joy, elation, bliss and ecstasy in life comes through living goodness, which becomes our truth and therefore, reveals Spirit (Beauty) throughout our actions and environment. To live goodness is to focus our attitude, orientation and behavior on what will bring value to those around us, our environment and ourselves. This value is created by bringing things fully to completion based on our best efforts and integrity. Earlier we have described integrity as involving "focus, tension and expression (simultaneously realized, consciously generated and dynamically used)." This condition of value and perfecting efforts (integrity can be equated with perfect condition) is how we befit goodness in our actions and resulting relationships and environment. The more we consciously instill goodness into our actions, the more we make goodness our truth (reality). It becomes who we are and how we live. Further, the more we first evoke and then invoke goodness into our lives, the more beauty becomes our mode of expression. Our first efforts with beauty involve making everything around us aesthetic. Doing so will he evoke a sense of pleasure (joy, appreciation, elation and zeal) in our efforts. Once we have made a habit of bringing beauty around us, this beauty within and without begins to bear the transcendent. The aesthetic appearance of forms becomes a godlike shining form of perfect proportion and clarity which continually reveals Spirit. Through further best efforts with integrity, Beauty also becomes our Truth. Together with Goodness, we evoke the inspiration of bliss, ecstasy and even rapture within us. Fantastically, these can then become our day-to-day reality (i.e. happiness, truth) in life. To finish, let me make a comment or two regarding the normal human reaction that: this all sounds like a good ideal, but it’s not very realistic. Ideals are the densest expression of the Inspirational Plane of existence. We can use ideals as a human first step in obtaining inspiration and its higher states outlined above. What I have just described in obtaining spiritual happiness through goodness, truth and beauty is now my wife’s and I reality. Comments from guests and visitors to our home environment include terms like idyllic, magical, mystical and quintessential. Webster's defines its root quintessence as: ultimate substance, of which the heavenly bodies were thought to be composed; the pure, concentrated essence of anything; the most nearly perfect manifestation of a quality or thing."