Truth, Goodness and Beauty
Truth, Goodness and Beauty
by Satish Kumar
Cover: Landmannalaugar, Iceland ©Zack Seckler/Corbis www.zackseckler.com
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For truth, science. For goodness, spirituality. For beauty, arts.
The purpose of Resurgence & Ecologist is to practise, pursue and promote Truth, Goodness and Beauty (TGB). This ancient trinity is our foundation. When we select our articles, reviews, poems and pictures we ask ourselves: do they meet the test of TGB? Are they true and authentic? Will they do any good to our readers? Do they embody a sense of balance and harmony, in other words, are they beautiful in themselves? We try to meet the TGB criteria as far as we can.
In doing so, we ourselves, and I know our readers and contributors also, try to bring the influence of TGB into our personal, political, social and economic lives.
Science, spirituality and the arts flow from TGB. It is the purpose of science to search for truth. In order to know truth we need science. Genuine science is more than mathematics, more than measurement and more than precision; science is all that and much more. There are more ways to know the truth than a particular methodology. Intuition, experience, insight and meaning are as important as empirical knowledge, evidence and experiment.
If we take truth to mean science, as it is practised in the modern world, then science alone is not enough. Science can be used to serve the military and money, it can be used to produce nuclear weapons, subjugate the natural environment and exploit our fellow human beings. Therefore truth, and the knowledge of truth, must be integrated with goodness: the good of oneself and of all beings. And goodness is a quality of the spirit. There must be complete unity between truth and goodness; between science and spirituality. One without the other is incomplete. The sword of truth must be safeguarded within the sheath of goodness. Compassion is a wonderful companion to truth. When they are separated, both lose out.
In the modern world there is far too much emphasis on truth, on science, on physical facts, on measurement, and not enough on goodness, on compassion, on meaning and on wisdom. The balance needs to be restored. Spirituality is not the same as the organised religious orders or a particular kind of theology, or even a particular belief system. Spirituality is about relationships, about empathy, compassion and wisdom.
Even the eminent scientist Einstein said that science without religion is blind and religion without science is lame. So why split the two?
The manifestation of truth and goodness, or science and spirituality has to be beautiful. That is why the arts need to be an integral part of human fulfillment. Science correlates to truth, spirituality to goodness and the arts to beauty.
There is a corresponding trinity: head, heart and hands. With our head, with our thinking and intellect, we comprehend truth; with our heart we experience goodness and with our hands we create beauty. Unfortunately our educational and economic systems place undue importance on the head, above heart and hands. Brainworkers and intellectuals are paid better. A job behind a desk and in front of a computer in a bank or in an office is considered to be of greater value than building a house, plumbing, furniture making, pottery, or farming. According to the prevailing ethos of our society manual work must be done by machines as far as is possible, or by cheap labour, either at home, or by immigrant workers from poorer countries. Most ‘manually manufactured’ goods are expected to be made in countries like Bangladesh by poorly paid artisan craftsmen and women; the economy of a country like England aspires to be transformed into a ‘knowledge economy’. This is a very unbalanced state of affairs.
Our society needs a bigger picture – a holistic vision. The hallmark of a balanced society is to honour and respect mental work and manual work equally. We need both. Only then we can develop our head, heart and hands in total harmony; science, spirituality and the arts need to be in complete coherence leading to the trinity of TGB – truth, goodness and beauty – as an integrated whole.
Through Resurgence & Ecologist magazine our writers, poets, artists, readers and supporters are on this challenging journey. This is our holistic vision. And this issue is no exception. Particularly I recommend the article by Charles Eisenstein who urges us not to get distracted by any single-issue obsession, such as global warming or climate change. When we address a pressing issue that may be fashionable for a time we must hold the big picture in our minds. And that big picture is the picture of Truth, Goodness and Beauty.