The Greek Cynic philosopher Diogenes used to carry a lantern in broad daylight, looking for an honest man. He did this not because he was weird or an odd character, but, essentially, because he was lonely. It was a subtle invitation to see in a different way–in the light of awareness, of beauty…
Perhaps you, like many people, consider this season the most beautiful time of the year, a moment for celebration, gifts, and joy.
But, look carefully. Nature has always had a secret language of celebration: the language of Beauty. Beauty exists at all times and everywhere. Through its lens, the world is revealed to be not an external, separate reality but a most precious gift. Each moment of beauty is a glimpse of awareness that represents a sacred invitation to recognition and celebration.
See That Which Is in the Eye and Heart of the Beholder
The sense of beauty is in itself a Self-reflection. The refrain “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” doesn’t just refer to the subjectivity of perceptions. It means that the perception of beauty is a fully conscious act, which requires a proper organ of perception. This organ is an Open Heart.
With this understanding, you no longer remain merely a passive observer of what you consider “beautiful,” but you start recreating the world, discovering its nirvanic nature. From the Heart, you project your inherent sense of beauty upon the world. In this way, you recognize the immanent Beauty of your being, a beauty that ultimately expresses itself through all of your actions.
The Perfect Anonymous Creator
The perfect artistic creation should be so archetypal, so transparent and transpersonal, that it feels like an anonymous work of art, with the artist having become one with their creation. In the same way, the Creator of all these worlds seems anonymous and majestic. But, just because the Creator is anonymous doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist…
In the mystery of Beauty, the sacredness of matter (which seems to be an external condition) and the perfection of the soul (the inner condition) are revealed. It is both a primordial sensation and an inspiration freed from the rational mind.
“When you and the object have become one, when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see something like a hidden light glimmering there, your poetry arises by itself,” said the great Zen master and artist Matsuo Basho.
Eternity Gazing at Itself–You
Beauty is simultaneously the cause and the consequence of your reconnection with the Heart. When you overcome the veils of fear and distorting ego projections, the inner light illuminates your soul as Beauty. In wonderment, your breath is taken away. You stop the rhythms of temporality when the aura of Beauty radiates eternity. As Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror.”
Transfiguration is not an imaginary projection upon others, but the real way of seeing…
Beauty puts you in touch with something more than yourself–the transcendent. “My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.” (Psalm 22:14)
The body and forms ascend to a higher condition and become involved in a noble act. This process is complemented by the descent of the light of the spirit through the veins in order to show you how organically you belong to Beauty. The yogis called this sama rasa, “even essence,” or “one taste.”
The Universe is not bound to be beautiful, yet it is beautiful, and this is a mystery in itself. Essential Beauty is beyond words; the only reason to speak about beauty would be to point to that wonderment inside, a transfigurative condition that transforms you. “Beauty can save the world,” Dostoevsky said. Let’s aspire to share the credo of this artist: “Mankind can live without science, without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there will be nothing more to do in the world! The whole mystery is here, the whole of history is here!”
How can you honor the beauty that Nature reveals? Rumi offers a clue: “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
It is in learning to see beauty, to look at beauty, that makes you fully human, fully alive, fully what you are meant to be…
The Eye and Vision of God
By contemplating beauty, you learn how to see in and from God’s Eye, the Eye of the Heart.
Why look for beauty? Because in looking for beauty you look for yourself. Whatever you do, want, live, or think through beauty, you ultimately turn to yourself. It can happen with the ecstatic force of a storm, with great confidence or equivocation, with simplicity or sophistication, with grace or despair, with delight or hesitation… But, finally, it arrives, and nothing will stop you. Beauty is God’s gaze on His creation. This simply means that Beauty is a fully conscious embrace of Life. As Meister Eckhart said, “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
The soul couldn’t see the beauty without itself becoming beautiful. The original and transcendental Beauty is the inexhaustible source of the partial beauty of the seen, formal world. Aspiration to the Divine is expressed in many forms, one of which is Eros (Love).
The Shift from Forms to Being
Confucius said, “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” At first glance, the Universe seems to be inhabited only by a multitude of forms. But, in reality, it is not just forms that give meaning to life. Everyone is beautiful when present. If presence is not just reduced to a form, or to an “other,” it reveals the beauty of uniqueness and transcendence.
Splendor as Supreme Power
St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Beauty is the splendor of Truth” (veritatis splendor). The sense of sacredness comes not only from finding the truth (seen as a moral value), but also from finding its beauty, the beauty of existence–that is, something whose enigmatic splendor amazes, marvels, and overwhelms.
Beauty is the fascinating power that brings Perfection. In the Hindu tantric tradition, it is celebrated as the Maha Vidya (Great Wisdom) Tripura Sundari.
Sat Chit Ananda
Beauty is Life, it is sat (Existence) in its purest expression. Because it transcends the mind and the world of dualities, it is both impetus and silence, tremor and rest, search and retrieval, the soft breeze and the ferocious storm. In its essence, Beauty is boundless, since it radiates from chit, the pure consciousness of the Heart. It is bliss-inducing because ananda (Supreme Bliss) is its secret nature.
Beauty as form conceals the ineffable, but Beauty as essence reveals it. What is its veil? A continuous fascination and awe in front of Absolute Perfection.
In the Hindu tradition, the Ultimate was often seen as a mystical trinity: Satyam (Truth), Shivam, (the Good, the Divine), and Sundaram (Beauty).
Beauty is an Eternal Calling
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.” –St. Augustine of Hippo
Sahajananda is an experienced meditation and yoga teacher and the founder of Hridaya Yoga.