I wrote this many years ago. For some reason I neglected to migrate this essay to the WordPress platform when the Knol platform was shut down.
In the film “The Da Vinci Code” the character Robert Langdon says “Maybe human is divine.” The film was adopted from the best selling book by the same name written by Dan Brown. We thank script writer Akiva Goldsman for coming up with this deeply meaningful line. It is important how you say it. The intonation makes a difference. You should hear how Tom Hanks says it in the film. His voice is in perfect harmony with the spirit of the words.
Some words resonate in our minds. “Maybe human is divine” is still resonating and will continue to resonate for a long time. This is similar to mantras used in meditation. The power of the mantra comes from the spiritual charge it carries.
Many mystics, philosophers and poets have talked about the divine nature of human or the divine potential in human. What more can I say? Can I say anything original? If not, then what is the point of writing on such an overworked concept?
The point is…the words resonate deeply in my heart…the feeling overflows. The best way I can express this overflowing feeling is by saying that human is divine because human is beautiful.
The criterion of beauty is used even in science to judge the promise of new theories. The mathematical beauty is often invoked to claim that the theory is closer to the reality. Beauty is obviously at the forefront of human relations and it is the most important factor in arts and music. I don’t want to examine the role of beauty in those areas. I want to talk about an aspect of beauty that borders on the spiritual.
I am not trying to understand what beauty is. I am not trying to define beauty either. I don’t want to know the materialistic or scientific explanations of beauty. I refuse to accept the explanations that beauty is all about hormones or that beauty is all about natural selection. I don’t want to know about psychological or cognitive explanations of beauty either. Beauty cannot be reduced to its components. The reductionist approach does not work in esthetics especially when it tries to explain beauty.
What is spirituality? The best answer I can think of is that spirituality is about love. The way you love your child is different from the way you love your spouse. There is romantic love and there is devotional love. In all aspects of love there is an esthetic factor which is best described by the word beauty. Without this esthetic factor we could not feel love. Beauty is spiritual because it brings us to love.
There are infinitely many aspects of love because love is infinite. Mystics and sages tell us that the ultimate reality is the infinite ocean of love and bliss. Universes are created from this infinite ocean. When we use the word “Divine” we are referring to this infinite ocean as well. Appreciation of beauty is the easiest way to connect with Divinity. By appreciating the beauty in nature and the beauty in human we come closer to our center, we come closer to Divinity.
Is human really beautiful? How can I call the terrorist beheading another human beautiful? Surely, the terrorist is the ugly face of human. No, I cannot use the word “beautiful” to describe that terrorist because he is not human. A human being cannot be that ugly! Human is beautiful when he remembers his humanity.
During my daily walks in New York City I see faces from all races and nationalities. When I ride the subways I see even more. I am constantly amazed by the beauty of human beings. All human faces reflect a spiritual light that makes them beautiful. That spiritual light cannot be explained by biology or chemistry. There are chemical correlates of the esthetic feelings (dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, etc) but the appreciation of beauty is not caused by these hormones. Actually, it is the other way around. It is the perception of the spiritual light that triggers the secretion of these hormones.
If I can perceive a spiritual light on human faces, then there must be at least a spark of divinity in human.