The two words “love” and “beauty” are normally spoken by us in our daily life. But do we know the real meaning while using them? No, we never think and never try to understand the meaning carried in them. Let us today think for a while what do we mean using the same word at different times with different persons? The word “Love” in fact means appreciation of beauty, but in our practical life it means differently at different times with different persons or things. The feelings of love of a father to his daughter are quite different from the love that he has for his wife. The love of a husband for his wife caries different meanings at different situations. His erotic love for the wife is timely but there exists also a real love that is developed with the passage of time between a wife and husband. The real love is also called selfless love, there comes a time in married life when a wife to her husband and a husband to his wife become so devoting to each other that they behave like two bodies with one soul. Is there any part of esthetics in married life?
Søren Kierkegaard says ‘Yes, marriage is the aesthetic in life.’ The life of a person becomes meaningful after marriage. Marriage brings happiness in the life of the couple. No other pleasure is like the pleasure when a wife gives birth to her first child and when the newly born baby, a wonderful gift of God, is in the lap of a husband for the first time.
The aesthetic in married life then starts moving towards eternity, but in order to step in that way the most important is the love that becomes real love with the passage of time between the two life partners. Kierkegaard clarifies that, ‘secretiveness and understanding are the two main aspects of the same issue, but for this one issue the most important thing is love, as the absolute condition for preserving the aesthetic in marriage.’ The three bonds of a successful married life are secretiveness, understanding and love. If these three bonds are fulfilled and maintained all the time the aesthetic in life is maintained and if broken the married life is ruined. In fact love is aesthetic in life. The literary meaning of love is also “appreciation of beauty”, and it becomes evident when we look at a beautiful flower, hear a lovely song or come across a beautiful face.
As for the term “Beauty”, it is derived from the word “beaut” which means excellent or beautiful. According to St. Paul ‘love is the fulfilling of the Law’, which means that if a person loves in real sense he or she is fulfilling the Duty.’
The world as whole with every beautiful thing in it reminds us of the source, the original Beauty that is God, Who is ‘Beautiful and He loves beauty’. The beauty in a person and in everything of the world reflects the Real Beauty. God has manifested His Beauty in all the objects of universe including man and woman. Human being has also inherited the love of beauty from God and therefore it is love that makes the man ‘existentially an authentic person’ as termed by Søren Kierkegaard, the great Danish philosopher. The man has been given the right to choose and therefore it is up to a person that in the way of aesthetic experience he chooses the right direction or otherwise. Reza S. Kazemi, the great writer and thinker of our age, quotes that Dr. Lings in his book “Symbol and Archetype” says: ‘It is God’s consciousness of His own Infinite Perfection that constitutes the archetype of all marveling at perfection.’ According to Kazemi, if we contemplate we can find that every beautiful object proves the existence of Devine archetype of Beauty and every aesthetic experience testifies to the Divine archetype of Beatitude. The origin of Beauty and Beatitude is one – the ultimate Reality. He further says that ‘it is only on the basis of initial bi-polarization of the One Reality into subject and object that one can see the archetype objective beauty and the archetype of subjective beatitude.’ The panorama of the universe is made colourful by the presence of woman as said by Iqbal in his Urdu verse: “Wajood-e zan say hai tasveer-e kaaenaat men rang.” (Woman is the cause of splendour in the universe.) This is just one verse of a poetic couplet but in it Iqbal captures the “archetype beauty”.
The tremendous charm of finite beauty in woman is man’s weakness, therefore if a man is unable to hold himself fast against the charm of the finite beauty and drifted towards having unrestricted pleasure moments, he is bound to be drowned in an ocean of destruction. According to Kierkegaard “when choice is performed (in the right direction), the self is transformed to a higher sphere than the aesthetic. The self then reaches the ethical and religious spheres of consciousness. But when the self reaches these spheres, the aesthetic stage is not completely eliminated. The self lives in the happy synthesis of the three modes of existence, namely ethical, religious and aesthetic. The three become united in an alliance and become mutually interdependent, with the religious spheres as the dominating factor.” In the universe everything is a symbol of beauty including Man, for whom God himself says as ‘the Best of His Creation’. Since God loves beauty it comes to mean that Man is the most loved creation of God. “And how beautiful is that God who is spirit also loves the earthly love”, remarks Kierkegaard. The love of God to Man is not like the love of a person whose love is a sort of desire to own someone or something that he loves. His love is altogether different to what we call love in this world. The German lady saint Annemarie Schimmel explaining God’s love quotes a verse from the Qur’an, “He loves them and they love Him.” She adds that this verse ‘had granted the later generations the proof not only for mutual love but for mystery that God’s love precedes any human love. The Divine love desires nothing in turn. It is Love for the sake of love. God’s Love to the human being is imminent in the act of loving ‘thy neighbor.’ Iqbal also believes that culture is religion and religion is love. He regards love as the essence of life and poetically explains in his following Persian verses:
زندگی را شرع و آئین است عشق
اصل تہذیب است دیں دین است عشق
دیں نگردد پختہ بے آداب عشق
دیں بگیر از صحبتِ اربابِ عشق
(Love is the law and ritual of life,
the root of culture is love and love is religion.
Religion does not mature without love’s schooling,
Learn religion from the company of the lords of love.)
To Iqbal the field of love is too vast to be calculated or imagined. He says that love is a cosmic force, which moves the heavens and the stars; it is operative in the entire universe. In Iqbal’s poetry the word “Ishq” is used as the superlative degree of love. I cannot resist in quoting below another four beautiful verses of Iqbal on the subject of love:
عشق کی گرمی سے ہےمعرکہ کائنات
علم مقامِ صفات، عشق تماشائے ذات
عشق سکون و ثبات، عشق حیات و ممات
علم ہے پیدا سوال، عشق ہے پنہاں جواب
(The whole campaign of the universe is by the heat of love.
Knowledge is the state of attribute; love is the seeing of essence.
Love is the peace and stability; love is the life and death.
Knowledge is an open question; love is a secret answer.)
The beauty is one of the attributes of God, Whose wisdom willed to bring His beauty into object form. On one side it is aimed at making the earth a living place for man and secondly the beauty to become a test for Man who is given the power and the right to choose. God has manifested His Beauty in the all the objects of universe including man and woman. Human being has inherited love of beauty from God and it is this love that makes the Man existentially an authentic person. A philosopher of our time named Reza S. Kazemi quotes from Dr. Ling’s book “Symbol and Archetype”: ‘It is God’s consciousness of His own Infinite Perfection that constitutes the archetype of all marveling at perfection.’
According to Kazemi if we contemplate we can find that every beautiful object proves the Divine archetype of Beauty and e very aesthetic experience testifies to the Divine archetype of Beatitude. The origin of Beauty and Beatitude is the only One – the Ultimate Reality. He says, ‘it is only the basis of initial bi-polarization of the One Reality into subject and object that one can see the archetype objective beauty and the archetype subjective beatitude.’
As already described earlier the humanly love has different meanings with different persons at different times, but God’s love to human being is altogether different from humanly love. God’s love is divine love, which desires no return of any kind from man. Divine love is absolutely selfless and, therefore, if somehow man demonstrates selflessness in love it becomes real love. Explaining the ‘work of love’ Kierkegaard says: “The work of love to recollecting one who is dead is thus a work of the most unselfish, the freest, the most faithful love. Therefore go out and practice it; recollect the one who is dead and just in this way learn to love the living unselfishly, freely, faithfully.” Erotic love is a desire for life but it ends with the death of a person if wrongly used. On the other hand real love does not end with the death. ‘It is the spring that flows into an eternal life,’ says Kierkegaard. The Prophet Muhammad used to visit graveyard quite frequently, which is a lesson of love for every one of us. “Death is love in itself, posited as a moment of God and this death is the reconciliation. In it we are able to intuit absolute love.”