By Poojya Sri Sri Ravishankar
Consciousness is beauty and Creation is an expression of consciousness. Beauty is present in all creation. Eastern philosophy believes beauty is the nature of things, while western thought sees it as perception. Perhaps beauty is both subjective and objective.
The East emphasises subjectivity; it sees beauty as the nature of existence – as Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram, an objective phenomenon. In the West, where objectivity is emphasised, beauty is seen as a subjective phenomenon. But as the old proverb goes, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Beauty bridges the subject-object divide.
Be calm and serene; turn within and you can get a glimpse of beauty. Every experience of beauty is happening within, and is superimposed on the object outside. Beauty is a state of mind. If your mind is calm and collected, it perceives beauty everywhere. If agitated, even the most beautiful things can annoy. Perception of beauty varies with the level of intelligence. For an average person, garments and accessories are the symbols of beauty. For the more sensitive, the sparkle in your eyes or a smile on your face is beautiful. Others see beauty in innocence. A child captivates your attention with its innocence and smile.
For the intellectually inclined, beauty lies in intelligence. However good looking a person is, she will not be found attractive for long if she lacks wit and intelligence. Whenever the mind is captivated, it is close to the Self or pure consciousness. That’s why temple idols are decorated with clothes and jewellery and the room is enhanced with incense, flowers and food is offered to lure the mind away from the five senses and make it still.
Dispassion to one’s Self, dedication to society and devotion to God is the secret of undying beauty. Without dispassion, beauty is short-lived. But possessiveness turns beauty into a mirage. Devotion and wonderment is simply appreciating beauty without possessiveness. You see a beautiful painting and you want to own it, you want to take it home with you, but then you hang it on your wall and after a while you don’t even look at it.
Adi Shankara in the Soundarya Lahiri – ‘Waves of Beauty’, speaks of the god of love, Kama, aiming at you with five flower arrows which aim to awaken the five senses, giving rise to a ‘wave’ of beauty which creates bliss – you start appreciating everything from a thorn to a snail to even a sea urchin. The rishis have always adored beauty and made it a characteristic of the Divine. Satyam or truth, Shivam or benevolence, tranquillity and divinity, and Sundaram or beauty.
Shyness enhances beauty while shame kills it. Valour enhances beauty; arrogance destroys it. There is a certain beauty in maturity – so looking beautiful is not the sole prerogative of the young. Often beauty is recognised only when it is uncommon. But to nature lovers, everything in nature is beautiful. Beauty is not just in the flowers; it is in the thorns of a cactus, too.
Beauty creates a thrill, it wakes up the sleeping consciousness. Beauty can also bring ecstasy and draw you into deep meditation. Beauty is not limited to excitement and activity, it also permeates sleep. Look at a sleeping baby, Buddha or Vishnu. There is un- fathomable beauty there. Not just knowledge but even ignorance, foolishness has a certain beauty.
To be able to perceive truth or beauty in creation, calmness is essential. An agitated mind can neither see the truth nor appreciate beauty. That’s why Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram always go together. The whole of Creation is nothing but ‘Waves of Beauty’.
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