Give All to Love

In sum, an appreciation and quest for beauty and love are the only methods and techniques available for both salvation and a fulfilling life. As long as beauty and love are known and understood, nothing else really needs to be known or understood. There is the beautiful and lovable on one hand, and the detestable and the ugly on the other hand, both of which are self-evident and self-explanatory. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “The giving of love is an education in itself.” 

As the medieval Islamic scholar Al-Ghazali wrote regarding love: 

“Know that the root of love must first be recognized as to what it is. Know that the meaning of love is the inclination (mayl) of one’s nature to something which is pleasant. If that inclination is strong, it is called passionate love. Hatred is the loating by one’s nature for something which is unpleasant. Wherever there is no “pleasant” or “unpleasant,” there is neither love nor hatred.” 

The three things which are most pleasant to a true connoisseur of beauty and love, as the Prophet Muhammad said, are “women, sweet scents, and the delight in formal prayer.” Edmund Burke also defined beauty and love along the same lines as Al-Ghazali, when he wrote: “The true opposite to beauty is not disproportion or deformity, but ugliness; and as it proceeds from causes opposite to those of positive beauty, we cannot consider it until we come to treat of that. Between beauty and ugliness there is a sort of mediocrity, in which the assigned proportions are most commonly found, but this has no effect upon the passions.”

It has also been written that: “Beauty is an extension, a reflection of Divine Infinitude and as such melts the hardness of the heart and removes the obstacles before the mind leading to liberation and deliverance.” And as Sigmund Freud wrote, poets and writers are the ones who are more fit and qualified than anyone else to depict and set the “conditions of love” and thus depict and portray reality for everyone else. As Freud wrote:

“Writers indeed have certain qualities which fit them for such a task; more especially, a sensitiveness of perception in regard to the hidden feelings of others, and the courage to give voice to their own unconscious minds. But from the point of view of knowledge one circumstance lessens the value of what they tell us. Writers are bound to certain conditions; they have to evoke intellectual and aesthetic pleasure as well as certain effects on the emotions. For this reason they cannot reproduce reality unchanged; they have to isolate portions of it, detach them from their connection with disturbing elements, fill up gaps and soften the whole.” 

Freud added that writers have what is called “poetic license” to portray reality in the manner in which they choose to portray it. In turn, science seeks to achieve what art and aesthetics has achieved, but in a more diminished and uninteresting form. Great minds have also made a distinction between beauty and love on one hand, and desire and lust on the other hand. As Otto Weininger argued, these two sets of qualities or states “are two different, mutually exclusive, indeed diametrically opposed states, so much so that at those moments when a person loves, the idea of a physical union with the loved one seems completely unthinkable to him.”

And as Frithjof Schuon wrote: “Beauty, love, happiness: man yearns for happiness because Beautitude, which is made of beauty and love, is his very substance.” The worst things that can possibly happen to anyone, arguably, is an appreciation, acknowledgment, and recognition for beauty that is downplayed and ignored and a love that goes unrequited. But not all is lost. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in a poem titled “Give All to Love”:

Give all to love; 

Obey thy heart; 

Friends, kindred, days, 

Estate, good-fame, 

Plans, credit and the Muse,— 

Nothing refuse. 

’T is a brave master; 

Let it have scope: 

Follow it utterly, 

Hope beyond hope: 

High and more high 

It dives into noon, 

With wing unspent, 

Untold intent: 

But it is a god, 

Knows its own path 

And the outlets of the sky. 

It was never for the mean; 

It requireth courage stout. 

Souls above doubt, 

Valor unbending, 

It will reward,— 

They shall return 

More than they were, 

And ever ascending. 

Leave all for love; 

Yet, hear me, yet, 

One word more thy heart behoved, 

One pulse more of firm endeavor,— 

Keep thee to-day, 

To-morrow, forever, 

Free as an Arab 

Of thy beloved. 

Cling with life to the maid; 

But when the surprise, 

First vague shadow of surmise 

Flits across her bosom young, 

Of a joy apart from thee, 

Free be she, fancy-free; 

Nor thou detain her vesture’s hem, 

Nor the palest rose she flung 

From her summer diadem. 

Though thou loved her as thyself, 

As a self of purer clay, 

Though her parting dims the day, 

Stealing grace from all alive; 

Heartily know, 

When half-gods go,   

The gods arrive.

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