Friday, July 5, 2013

Sacred Geometry

Out to dinner in this Medieval town in Catalunya waiting for my gazpacho, I found myself gazing out the window at a triangular wall leading to a curving street. The church bells were ringing, the children playing, the folks hanging out on their balconies with the drying laundry. I felt my spirit lifting simply from the act of witnessing a sacred geometry. Aesthetics matters. We feel differently in a Cathedral than we do in Costco, a different person on a outdoor rooftop restaurant in Santorini than at a formica table in Burger King, connected differently writing on a Balinese verandah than in an office cubicle.

While I was pondering this, I remembered an article a friend sent me called Fractals and Baroque Dance. After dinner, I opened it up and found this:

“The Ancients have taken into consideration the rigorous construction of the human body, elaborated all their works, especially their holy temples, according to these proportions; for they found here the two principal figures without which no project is possible: the perfection of the circle, the principle of all regular bodies and the equilateral square— from De Divina Proportione by Luca Pacioli, illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci.”

The article goes on to discuss how “thoughts, emotions and psychological states are expressed by angles within the body as well as lines in space” and evokes the image of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man outlined in a circle, square and triangle, the meeting of the spiritual with the material. Exactly my thoughts as I sipped my gazpacho!

My whole life I’ve been searching for the ways to live well, to live wholly, to live fully. Thank goodness I never found THE way, because that would have been an illusion and would have immediately narrowed me to the full range of glorious possibilities, trapped me in a cage, however well-decorated, that I would have had to cling to in fear that I might have made the wrong choice. But between dogmatic fanatacism and “whatever” are all the things that make my day shine a bit brighter. All kinds of music, both listening and playing, Zen meditation, children—all of them—good food, good company, time outdoors, lifelong reading habits of great literature and stirring poetry and stimulating non-fiction,attention to doing things well and artfully with an eye to aesthetics etc. etc and again, etc.

Like all people, uplifted myself, I’m convinced that others will be too and what starts as a personal preference turns quickly to a social program and my plan to improve the world. “If only everyone understood the nuances of Chopin, the intricacies of Art Tatum, the soul force of Coltrane, if only everyone had experienced an Orff program or gone to a Zen retreat or shopped at the farmer’s market or lived in beautiful (not necessarily rich) places with architecture that cares and so on, what a wonderful world it would be.”

Of course, I’d like to think it would be a better world for all. But maybe I can just appreciate how these things sustain me and not put so much weight on its shoulders. Because I know that none of these alone really matter— inside this lovely town with its narrow curving streets and magnificent cathedral and elaborate stone work are people with the same foibles as people living in trailers or ticky-tacky suburbs. I love the work various artists produced, but the stories are out— you wouldn’t necessarily want many of them to be your neighbors or marry your son or daughter.

So I’ll leave my appreciation of a sacred geometry as an appreciation of a sacred geometry and nothing else. And then go search for my next restaurant with a good view.

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