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Old 06-08-2016, 06:01 AM   #1
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Ugliness

Allahu Jameel wa Yuhibbul Jamaal (Allah is beautiful and Allah loves beauty) -- Hadith.

God is beautiful, so is the creation that He has created. How is it possible that the most beautiful Creator creates something that is ugly? As far as I have understood the concept of beauty in the Baha'i Faith, I have learnt that ugliness is non-existent. Everything is beautiful. Yes, things are different, nonetheless, they are all beautiful. There is white, brown, black and yellow skin, I can't deny that, but all of them are beautiful in their own ways. If I don't find them beautiful then there is something wrong with the angle with which I approach it.

But while reading about the teachings of Baha'i Faith regarding economics I have come across something which I am having difficulty in digesting and would encourage the counsel of you all.

In a letter written on the behalf of Shoghi Effendi, the following is said:
Quote:
Dear friend, the scope of this subject and discussion thereof are extensive. Why should one only mention the poor and the rich or poverty and wealth? There are many other similar and analogous things in the world of creation. For instance, why are all the birds of the world not possessed of a melodious voice? Why have crows and ravens? Or, why are not all the people of the world beautiful and pleasing? Why have the ugly and the unsightly? Or, why are not all the beasts of the field graceful deer? Why have wolves and the bloodthirsty leopards? Or, in the arena of war, why have soldiers? Let all be commanders and officers! And, lastly, why have the poor? All should be rich! -- (22 May 1928 -- translated from the Persian)
After reading this I find that the above statements are recognizing that ugliness really exists. But what is that ugliness? What is it here that is being referred to as ugly and unsightly?

Last edited by arcane; 06-08-2016 at 10:41 AM.
 
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Old 06-08-2016, 10:55 AM   #2
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"After reading this I find that the above statements are recognizing that ugliness really exists. But what is that ugliness? What is it here that is being referred to as ugly and unsightly?"

Does it?? From the given quote, it seems like Shoghi is answering the question of "Why are there poor people?" with a question of "Why stop there, why are there ugly people?"

I do not think it means that ugliness is a thing that "exists", in that sense. Attributes don't exist if you read the more mystical of the scriptures, "Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes" (quote attributed to Ali, quoted by Baha'u'llah in Seven Valleys). Ugliness is an attribute, so Unity excludes it.

So what is Shoghi referring to with this??

Let's look at the quote again.

"There are many other similar and analogous things in the world of creation. For instance, why are all the birds of the world not possessed of a melodious voice? Why have crows and ravens? Or, why are not all the people of the world beautiful and pleasing? Why have the ugly and the unsightly? Or, why are not all the beasts of the field graceful deer? Why have wolves and the bloodthirsty leopards? Or, in the arena of war, why have soldiers? Let all be commanders and officers! And, lastly, why have the poor? All should be rich!"

I believe, what Shoghi is doing here, is conflating the inquirer's question, "Why are there poor people, why isn't everyone rich??" by conflating it to other questions that other people levy against reality. Essentially all the given questions boil down to "Why does [insert thing I don't approve of here] exist?? Only [insert things I like here] should exist!!"

In this sense Shoghi reduces it to a complaint about the state of the world, no different from complaining the existence of ravens merely because you don't like the sound of ravens.

Ultimately, ugliness is not a thing that is real. The ugliness referred to by Shoghi is the ugliness people choose to see in the world. Not necessarily a real, tangible, objective standard by which one can be judged as "ugly", but as an individual, subjective standard that people use for fault-finding.

I think Shoghi is trying to highlight that the question "Why isn't everyone rich??" is no different from any other form of fault finding one can take with the world, I don't think he's stating that the fault finding of the world is in any way valid (otherwise we'd have to assume that Shoghi literally believed that ravens were bad things ), he's just using the fault finding as an example to show the flaws in all such complaints about the greater world.
 
Old 06-08-2016, 01:52 PM   #3
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Humans can make themselves ugly which is undersigned by God
 
Old 06-08-2016, 02:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
"After reading this I find that the above statements are recognizing that ugliness really exists. But what is that ugliness? What is it here that is being referred to as ugly and unsightly?"

Does it?? From the given quote, it seems like Shoghi is answering the question of "Why are there poor people?" with a question of "Why stop there, why are there ugly people?"

I do not think it means that ugliness is a thing that "exists", in that sense. Attributes don't exist if you read the more mystical of the scriptures, "Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes" (quote attributed to Ali, quoted by Baha'u'llah in Seven Valleys). Ugliness is an attribute, so Unity excludes it.

So what is Shoghi referring to with this??

Let's look at the quote again.

"There are many other similar and analogous things in the world of creation. For instance, why are all the birds of the world not possessed of a melodious voice? Why have crows and ravens? Or, why are not all the people of the world beautiful and pleasing? Why have the ugly and the unsightly? Or, why are not all the beasts of the field graceful deer? Why have wolves and the bloodthirsty leopards? Or, in the arena of war, why have soldiers? Let all be commanders and officers! And, lastly, why have the poor? All should be rich!"

I believe, what Shoghi is doing here, is conflating the inquirer's question, "Why are there poor people, why isn't everyone rich??" by conflating it to other questions that other people levy against reality. Essentially all the given questions boil down to "Why does [insert thing I don't approve of here] exist?? Only [insert things I like here] should exist!!"

In this sense Shoghi reduces it to a complaint about the state of the world, no different from complaining the existence of ravens merely because you don't like the sound of ravens.

Ultimately, ugliness is not a thing that is real. The ugliness referred to by Shoghi is the ugliness people choose to see in the world. Not necessarily a real, tangible, objective standard by which one can be judged as "ugly", but as an individual, subjective standard that people use for fault-finding.

I think Shoghi is trying to highlight that the question "Why isn't everyone rich??" is no different from any other form of fault finding one can take with the world, I don't think he's stating that the fault finding of the world is in any way valid (otherwise we'd have to assume that Shoghi literally believed that ravens were bad things ), he's just using the fault finding as an example to show the flaws in all such complaints about the greater world.


Thank you, Walrus. Your explanation makes very much sense to me!

Loving regards,
Becky
 
Old 06-08-2016, 09:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arcane View Post
But what is that ugliness? What is it here that is being referred to as ugly and unsightly?
I think he is simply referring to the obvious: ugliness is the opposite of beauty. Socrates, for example, is well-known for his ugliness, but he is also well-known for his beautiful mind. This illustrates Shoghi Effendi's comment near the end: "Diversity in all created things, whether in kind, in physical appearance, or in station, is the means for their protection, their permanence, unity and harmony. Each part complements the other." So, according to this, some people are not as physically attractive as others ("diversity in all created things"), and there is a reason why this is so.

Last edited by ahanu; 06-08-2016 at 09:40 PM.
 
Old 06-09-2016, 02:08 PM   #6
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There's an enormous difference between unattractive and ugly. People are not made ugly by physical appearance but by what is in their heart
 
Old 06-09-2016, 02:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AidanK View Post
There's an enormous difference between unattractive and ugly.
Why?

Quote:
People are not made ugly by physical appearance but by what is in their heart
But, unfortunately, many people struggling with body image issues don't feel this way. They feel they are made ugly by physical appearance.
 
Old 06-09-2016, 07:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
Why?



But, unfortunately, many people struggling with body image issues don't feel this way. They feel they are made ugly by physical appearance.
But they are not ugly
 
Old 06-10-2016, 11:36 AM   #9
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Thank you all for the valuable insights.
 
Old 06-11-2016, 01:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AidanK View Post
There's an enormous difference between unattractive and ugly. People are not made ugly by physical appearance but by what is in their heart
I believe this too, Aiden.

Loving regards,
Becky
 
Old 06-13-2016, 05:15 AM   #11
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After a few days of thinking a new conclusion has occurred to me. Please go through it and let me know what you think about it.

Note: I am exclusively talking about the physical and bodily beauty, not the spiritual dimension.

Yes, we all know that the idea of physical beauty is relative. God is beautiful and has created everything beautiful. All this being said, I think that all of us naturally have this tendency to find some people physically more beautiful and others not so much (or ugly in other words). Every one of us finds himself or herself attracted to some people and not towards other people. My knowledge of the fact that God has created all of us beautiful does not change the fact that I will still judge the physical beauty of others according to my own criterion (may or may not be intrinsic; but it is always there no matter the origin) and I can't help this. Not just others, I will judge myself as well, as science shows that each one of us has an inflated perception of our own physical appearance (SEE: You Are Less Beautiful Than You Think - Scientific American).

So, I don't think that religion requires us to somehow (forcefully or artificially) look at all individuals as physically beautiful. I think religion only wants us to understand that in the absolute sense, all of us are equally beautifully.

I am looking forward to the opinions of others.
 
Old 06-13-2016, 07:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arcane View Post
After a few days of thinking a new conclusion has occurred to me. Please go through it and let me know what you think about it.

Note: I am exclusively talking about the physical and bodily beauty, not the spiritual dimension.

Yes, we all know that the idea of physical beauty is relative. God is beautiful and has created everything beautiful. All this being said, I think that all of us naturally have this tendency to find some people physically more beautiful and others not so much (or ugly in other words). Every one of us finds himself or herself attracted to some people and not towards other people. My knowledge of the fact that God has created all of us beautiful does not change the fact that I will still judge the physical beauty of others according to my own criterion (may or may not be intrinsic; but it is always there no matter the origin) and I can't help this. Not just others, I will judge myself as well, as science shows that each one of us has an inflated perception of our own physical appearance (SEE: You Are Less Beautiful Than You Think - Scientific American).

So, I don't think that religion requires us to somehow (forcefully or artificially) look at all individuals as physically beautiful. I think religion only wants us to understand that in the absolute sense, all of us are equally beautifully.

I am looking forward to the opinions of others.
I believe you answered your own question! People are, initially, going to be attracted to different looks, physically, we are human after all. But the inner beauty is the long time attraction in friends and mates.

Loving regards,
Becky
 
Old 06-13-2016, 02:21 PM   #13
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Why are we even discussing this, the merits of physical attractiveness? It's so utterly unimportant
 
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