94 THE EXPERIENCE OF BEAUTY AND THE SUBLIME

A Discourse

by Alireza Nurbakhsh

Our experience of beauty and the sublime in the world is a gateway to our experience of the divine, which in turn gives rise to our love for God. Though they are often spoken of together, beauty and the sublime can produce different effects in the human heart and mind. For the Sufis, beauty and the sublime are two aspects of the same Reality. Loving God means loving both aspects of this Reality.

We need a critical approach to our experience to make sense of it and avoid any pitfalls set by our own emotions and self-interest. A blind acceptance of our experience and its spiritual significance could push us towards fanaticism. In some spiritual schools, including Sufism, it is the community and ultimately the guide or the teacher who can provide the correct insight to unravel such experiences and ultimately help people to make a positive change in their lives. The validity of such experiences rests in how they can help us through the process of purification of the self and spiritual advancement.

This can happen only when we see the beauty in others, and following the example of the Sufis, we let the experience of beauty take us to the state of perpetual and unconditional love.

PHOTO © JORDAN HAMMOND

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