We want to get behind the beauty, but it is only a surface.
It is like a mirror that reflects to us our own desire for good.
It is a sphinx, an enigma, a sorrowfully irritating mystery.
We want to feed on it, but it is only an object we can look on; it appears to us from a certain distance.
The great sorrow of human life is knowing that to look and to eat are two different operations.
Only on the other side of heaven, where God lives, are they one and the same operation.
Children already experience this sorrow when they look at a cake for a long time and nearly regret eating it, but are powerless to help themselves.
Maybe the vices, depravities and crimes are nearly always or even always in their essence attempts to eat beauty, to eat what one can only look at.
Eve initiated this.
If she lost our humanity by eating a fruit, the reverse attitude— looking at a fruit without eating it— must be what saves.
Waiting for God
Simone Weil (3 February 1909 – 24 August 1943) was a French philosopher, mystic, and political activist.
As Simone Weil explains in her book Waiting for God, attention consists of suspending or emptying one’s thought, such that one is ready to receive – to be penetrated by – the object to which one turns one’s gaze, be that object one’s neighbor, or ultimately, God.
As Weil explains, one can love God by praying to God, and attention is the very “substance of prayer”: when one prays, one empties oneself, fixes one’s whole gaze towards God, and becomes ready to receive God.
Similarly, for Weil, people can love their neighbors by emptying themselves, becoming ready to receive their neighbor in all his or her naked truth, asking their neighbor: “What are you going through?”
In Waiting for God, Simone Weil explains that the three forms of implicit love of God are (1) love of neighbor (2) love of the beauty of the world and (3) love of religious ceremonies.
As Weil writes, by loving these three objects (neighbor, world’s beauty, and religious ceremonies), one indirectly loves God before “God comes in person to take the hand of his future bride,” since prior to God’s arrival, one’s soul cannot yet directly love God as the object.
Love of neighbor occurs when the strong treat the weak as equals, when people give personal attention to those that otherwise seem invisible, anonymous, or non-existent, and when we look at and listen to the afflicted as they are, without explicitly thinking about God – Weil writes, when “God in us” loves the afflicted, rather than we loving them in God.
Second, Weil explains, love of the world’s beauty occurs when humans imitate God’s love for the cosmos: just as God creatively renounced his command over the world – letting it be ruled by human autonomy and matter’s “blind necessity” – humans give up their imaginary command over the world, seeing the world no longer as if they were the world’s center.
Finally, Weil explains, love of religious ceremonies occurs as an implicit love of God, when religious practices are pure.
Weil writes that purity in religion is seen when “faith and love do not fail,” and most absolutely, in the Eucharist.