Beauty and the Soul
The Extraordinary Power of Everyday Beauty to Heal Your Life
By Piero Ferrucci
Tarcher/Penguin, 2009, $22.95
While many feel that beauty is something that comes with a high price tag or is available only to those with leisure time or the special training that qualifies them to appreciate and create it, Piero Ferrucci demonstrates that beauty is deeply interwoven with our organism. Everyday beauty is all around us, waiting to be seen by those whose eyes and hearts are open to it and who are vulnerable enough to allow it to transform them. From faster recovery in hospital patients, to reductions in juvenile delinquency, to higher SAT scores and an increase in cerebral mass in students, to an overall reduction in aggressive behavior in populations exposed to it, research clearly documents the transformative power of the beautiful. Ferrucci says that “beauty and goodness are roommates in our brain.”
“When I see a person in touch with beauty,” he says, “I see it as a reaction of her whole organism. I see her pulsate, shine, blossom. I immediately see that enjoyment of beauty is a basic aspect of our being, like breath, food, sex . . . the well-being it brings is comparable to the all-encompassing relief we experience when we are thirsty and we drink, when we are exhausted and we sleep, when we feel lonely and we meet our beloved.”
Dr. Ferrucci is an Italian transpersonal psychologist, philosopher, author of five books, and editor of a volume of the lectures of Aldous Huxley. He was a student of psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli, founder of psychosynthesis, and also his collaborator. Ferrucci weaves the threads of scientific research, spirituality, personal anecdotes, and tales from various wisdom traditions into a tapestry that shows how beauty has the power to transform all it touches.
Those who intuitively know that beauty, the arts, and intimacy with nature are important for well-being — but lack the vocabulary to speak about this inner awareness — will find all they need to state their case in this volume. It reads like a prose poem in praise of beauty and leaves us with an intriguing question: what would happen if beauty were the guiding principle — or one of the main themes — in our existence?