Author: Jack Barratt
Beauty is typically defined by harmony. Harmony is typically defined by unity. Groups of people are only able to share a harmonious existence when they are unified on some level. This unity also extends to physical beauty and aesthetic beauty. Scientific studies have shown that those who are deemed the ‘most beautiful’ are also those whose facial features are the most symmetrical. In terms of the beauty of the rest of the physical body, there are certain ratios between, for example, in men, shoulder width and waist width, that create a visual effect that is pleasing to look at and which signals biological health, good genes and high reproductive capacity.
Even if we take the example of music that is deemed beautiful—the most fascinating and awe-inspiring compositions typically have an almost mathematically perfect level of structural unity that mimics the harmony found between apparently separate elements in the natural world. When, for example, in music, that structural harmony is not there, then the music is usually deemed as not good and nonsensical. Imagine if we took a song with four verses and two choruses. If each verse had a different melody, and each chorus was played at completely different speed, then it would sound absolutely chaotic—there would be nothing for the ear and mind to latch onto. Thus, whether we talk about visual reality, or even about the world of organised sound, beauty is always related to harmony, structural integrity and a seamless unity between apparently separate parts.
All of these apparently beautiful things take their capacity for aesthetic perfection from the innate beauty of reality as it is. However, when we choose to obsess over the attractiveness of things that appear separate, and when we place ourselves within the framework of subject/object—where we as a subject enjoy and interact with a beautiful external object—then we lose our connection with the beauty of the whole of existence as it really is. If we wish to experience the beauty of the whole, then we must become that whole—we must cease to perceive reality with any sense of division. In order to lose ourselves within the vast, infinite and all-pervasive splendour and attractiveness of existence, we must relinquish our solid attachment to continuously chasing and obsessing over beautiful things whilst shunning and disparaging ugly things.
When we see something that is apparently ugly and hideous in isolation, then it seems like just that—like a monstrous, hideous spectacle. However, when we come to perceive an apparently ugly fragment of creation as one of the innate extremes within the great unity-play of existence, then that object comes to shine with the same beauty as existence itself does. Existence is beautiful because it is blissful and weightless. It is blissful and weightless because there is no separation inherent within it. Where there is no separation, there is no cause for fear or worry. Remove fear and reality is perceived as it really is, perfectly, and without any possible problem or issue.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t search for the beautiful and harmonious within the more limited realms of human life. However, that which is sweet in the world of changing appearances can only ever be temporarily sweet—our interaction with beauty as it is bound by time, change and conditions yields something that may more accurately be referred to as bittersweet. Gorgeous flowers wither and die. The most physically attractive human beings eventually age, wrinkle and die. This is the nature of life: be born, bloom and then start rotting towards the state of inevitable demise. The whole, the energy that actually enlivens everything that appears, however, is not bittersweet. It is endlessly sweet—it is unbeginning and unending. Those great beings who re-establish themselves in that energy of existence, even if they continue to apparently exist as separate beings, those beings shine with a beauty from within that has nothing to do with the symmetry of their features or the external firmness of their physical bodies. Even if they become old and wrinkle up like creased walnuts, they will still shine—they still radiate with the nectarine sweetness of that which they are established in.
Ultimately, beauty, intelligence and wealth are the prized commodities of this world and also the natural state of the heavenly realms of existence. These things all come naturally in heavenly realities. Many souls that take birth on this earth are effortlessly born with physical beauty, intelligence, inherited wealth and good character—these beings often arrive after spending time in subtler, more heavenly realms as a result of meritorious actions. However, when such beings become attached to these aspects, to beauty, intellectuality and wealth, then they become shallow, full of pride and greedy. These apparently harmonious aspects of existence, when obsessed with, and when allowed to drain the entirety of our energy—these things eventually eat us alive and leave us spiritually weak. Many such beings who quickly attain ‘all the good things in life’ bounce back and forth between heavenly and hellish realms, between the worlds of gods and demons, because their over-attachment to the positive precipitates the manifestation of the negative. For example, if we take a huge pendulum and pull it right up to one side, then as soon as we let it go it will swing just as far to the other side. Thus is the yo-yoing dance of this dream-like existence. Masters become tired of this dance. Though they may be born with all possible benefits and luxuries in life, like Lord Gautama Buddha, who shunned the splendid life of princehood, masters renounce all of these aspects. In fact, there is no need to physically renounce anything. If we renounce our attachment to beauty and wealth on an internal level, then we are automatically freed on all other levels. When the great siddha, King Janaka’s palace burnt down, he was the only being who remained in a state of total equipoise. All of the servants were running around like rats trying to protect their morsels of material possession.
When happiness and suffering, ease and hardship, life and death, are perceived with an equal, even eye, then we transcend all conditions and dual conditioning itself.
We become the heart of everything. We become immortal.
Then there is only beauty, light, brightness.
May this be realised by all sincere beings.