Beauty and Happiness
An incomprehensibly sublime and wonderful beauty inhabits all of existence in the most direct way and in astonishing abundance. Beauty hangs in the air like the ringing of a bell that had been struck eons ago, but, in fact, there was no beginning to it. Where it comes from no one can say. It seems to come from inside one’s own being and yet there is the understanding that it simultaneously radiates from the fabric of life itself. It is not merely projected by us. Thus, the distinction between inside-of-us and outside-of-us begins to blur in the presence of beauty. One can attempt to describe the dance of beauty on this stage of life, but the joy of it will remain beyond the reach of words. It is like no other pleasure or happiness.
It can be seen clearly in all of nature and in the most common of events. Seeing it requires a calm mind but that’s not all it requires. One has to have tasted it. Then, with a calm mind, one can find it again. Embracing beauty is a shift in awareness but it is difficult to know how to shift if one has not yet seen it. Once seen or felt, the memory of beauty is enough to cause the shift or, perhaps better said, the opening. By removing the dark glasses of the mind, radiant all-pervading beauty is revealed. We are spellbound and enchanted by the flux and flow of life in a way that we had never seen or experienced.
With this kind of beauty, the mind becomes absorbed in the event. The simpler the better. The sunlight dances and sparkles on the small windswept waves of a pond. A bird sings in the distance. Leaves flutter. The wind whispers softly in the pines. Clouds float high above the concerns of the world. Pink cherry blossoms fall one by one. A dog chews an old glove. Also in man made things. A flag flops and curls this way and that. Clothesline ropes rise and fall like waves in the ocean. The concrete porch is solid like eternity. It’s in the whoosh of a yard sprinkler, the hum of a refrigerator and the roar of a truck’s tires on the hard sun-baked pavement. Beauty can even be felt while staring at a white wall. We may think that it is because we are beyond the white wall but that would not be correct. The white wall is a participant in the beauty.
It seems this beauty is not dependent on any particular object or event for its expression. It doesn’t matter which pond or which tree or which bird. And yet, these very objects and events are what reveal beauty. They manifest the endless potential of beauty. Or maybe beauty and her singers, her actors, and her dancers require someone to applaud. Someone to witness. Someone to know. Maybe we are the audience for whom beauty enacts this incredible play of joy. Perhaps our appreciation and our love complete the circle.
This beauty lives and breathes in the present moment alone. It can be felt only if one sits quietly in the present moment. Here it is. It truly is right here - indescribable joy; a peaceful loving joy; the marriage of happiness and acceptance. Sadly, most of us are too busy to notice; too preoccupied with the busyness of our lives. Most of us have never felt the intoxication of wine like this.
With an effort to practice, we can begin to experience beauty more easily and more often. By our repeated adventure into the garden of bliss, the mind begins to bear the sweet fragrance of beauty like a forest of unending plum blossoms. We are intoxicated yet clear. This intoxication gradually transforms the mind from a self-centered isolated point of reference into a universe that is full of life, love, and sharing. Beauty allows us to participate in love with all of life.
To begin our journey into beauty, hold the mind on something in nature, something small and close. Maybe a single blade of grass waving in the breeze. Hold the attention on it and relax the mind. Stop thinking. The quieting of the mind is like a child who stares transfixed with empty eyes at an imperceptible nothing experiencing deep calm and peace. Become absorbed in the blade of grass. Relax. The movement of the blade of grass and the blade itself are one thing. A feeling of timelessness about it will begin to emerge. It is as though that blade of grass had been waving in the breeze forever. Now we are on the path to experiencing beauty. Before long we will exclaim to ourselves, or perhaps out loud, “My God! I can’t believe it’s so beautiful!”
Existence comes and goes because of beauty and for no other reason. The Buddha was asked if beauty was not at least half of the spiritual life. He replied that beauty was all of the spiritual life.