John-O'Donohue-on-Beauty-and-Music

The late John O’donohue was a philosopher and poet from the west of Ireland who passed away in 2008. For 20 years he was a Catholic priest; ordained in 1979, he left the church in 2000. He also spent several years studying the philosophy and completed his PhD in philosophical theology in 1990. Those of you familiar with the name John O’donohue may have read his most lauded piece of literature “Anam Cara”, which speaks about celtic spirituality and philosophy. Part of this is the Celtic belief or way of being if you will, that understands beauty as manifestation of the divine and is found everywhere and in everything. 

 

To hear O’Donohue speak about beauty is in fact so beautiful in itself, as if he gracefully embodies the very concept that he masterfully describes. 

“Beauty isn’t all about nice loveliness.. Beauty is about more rounded, substantial becoming, so I think beauty in that sense is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.”

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Photo by Nils Nedel on Unsplash

For many of us the concept of beauty has become stained by the unrealistic standards of physical beauty, the sexualisation of all things including the sacred things and the toxic competitiveness and constant comparing that goes on in our modern societies. So to read John O’donohue’s reflections on beauty feels deeply nourishing to me like taking a deep drink of cool water on a hot day. Something in the passion and reverence he holds towards beauty runs very deep. 

Many of us are to some degree crippled by the societal pressures and modern  cosmetic standards that have us mixed up about what beauty really is. We lose our passion to create and we lose touch with our own unique beauty and power. The wheels might start to spin as we get caught up in comparing ourselves to others and their manicured online avatars. This weight builds above us and corners us in. We feel an immense pressure to perform, but of course, our inner child, our creative essence, is only more stifled by this pressure. 

John O’Donohue’s pure and enthusiastic passion for beauty and everything aesthetic is a timely reminder about the importance of appreciation. A remembering that everything we see and hear around us is in fact a manifestation of the divine, and in embodying this deepening of appreciation we are simultaneously opening ourselves to be touched by the same fountain of divine, unlimited creative energy.

“The deepest dream of silence is the beauty of music and word.”

John O’Donohue

This touches me very deeply, like all of us I’m sure, I feel I lived a good portion of my life living only partially; yet to relax into a deepening of acceptance, where the space and spontaneity of being allows us to let more beauty in. Where the veil of judgment is lifted and we can more deeply see and touch and hear all of the beauty all around us. Music is the expression of this elation in sound. The Celtic music of Ireland is such a wonderful example of where art encapsulates all of the joy and suffering of a culture, the appreciation for the land and myriad more matters of the soul simultaneously. 

Our next curated playlist will be of Celtic music of Ireland so keep an eye out, and do yourself a favor and go and read more about the wonderful teacher John O’Donohue.

“Music is what language would love to be if it could.”

John O’Donohue

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