By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Beauty is all-pervasive. you only have to open your eyes and see the reality that is there.
Adi Shankara, after speaking a lot about dispassion, detachment and renuciation, felt that people should not stop appreciating beauty. So he sang a hundred verses on beauty. He foresaw that if he just talked about renunciation, people could become sadists. They would start liking and encouraging the sadness. So he immediately sang on beauty.
Beauty has three levels: indication, expression and exposure. Spirituality indicates, art expresses and science exposes.
Divine is beauty, and beauty is divine. Deva means one who loves to play, one who is effulgent, glorious. Demons fight, men live in peace, and gods play. Playfulness cannot happen if there is no beauty; they go together. Enthusiasm, the same force that is beauty, creates playfulness. Beauty is associated with shyness, and shyness enhances beauty. For example, a small child sometimes makes a very shy face. When everyone notices and appreciates it, it just hides its face. Likewise, shame is a part of ugliness. Shyness softens you; ugliness or shame hardens you. When a person feels ashamed, he becomes hard inside and becomes violent.
The way of gods, the way of the wise has always been indirect. There is a saying in Sanskrit, ‘Paroksha priya hi vai devaha?’ which means, ‘Gods love indirect methods’. Poetry is indirect; it’s exaggeration. The heart always exaggerates, while the mind puts the fact forward. Fact is intellectual. But when it comes from the heart, the fact is decorated. Then it becomes doubly beautiful.
Direct expression is necessary when one is not awake. But with the awakened, hints and the indirect expression make it all the more charming. But it doesn’t mean that something is good or something is bad. Everything has its place and its time. Total exposure is not the language of the heart. Total exposure provokes; concealed beauty invokes. That is why this nature conceals the whole creation during the night inside itself, and reveals it the next day, in the morning.
Love is at its peak when no effort is made to express it. It is not that you should not express it sometimes; otherwise you may burst! It is just that there is a beauty in not expressing it completely. And in that secretiveness and the unveiling of it, there is knowledge, there is opening, there is joy, there is beauty. That is a divine quality. Intellect has its place and poetry has its place. Both make life fuller. That is the beauty.
See people beyond their expressions. What a person expresses is not what he’s all about. There is a lot of unexpressed love in each life. Just recognising this fact, you expand; your heart expands. Then you’ll never be stuck with what someone says or someone does. What someone says is very small, and what someone does is just ribbon on the package. If you don’t like the ribbon, just take it off and look at what’s inside.
Everybody is a packed gift. Don’t just choose to look at the wrapper. Inside each one is a very precious gift. Some packages have firecrackers! Some packages have sweet candies. No box is empty. There is place for everybody in the heart of the Divine. That is what Jesus meant when he said: ‘‘There are many rooms in the house of my father’’.
So do not worry that there are so many people. Do not ask how you can be close to God. Do not worry about how you can belong there. There are many rooms, and each one of you will have your own private room! And Jesus promises: ‘‘If there are not many rooms, I’ll make something for you and then come and take you there.’’ The mind cannot appreciate something abstract. It’s so used to looking at concrete stuff and promises. The mind needs promises. When you love somebody, you want a promise from him or her. You ask: ‘‘Do you promise me? Do you really love me? Tell me for sure!’’
The second aspect of beauty is gratefulness. When you don’t feel that you lack something, then you feel grateful. You cannot be grateful and feel that you lack something. The two cannot go together. Perhaps, you experience both, but only at different times. When you feel you lack something, the grumbling begins. With the knowledge you have, you become grateful. When you are grateful, by natural law you will be given more. As Jesus has said: ‘‘Those who have will be given more. Those who have not, even what little they have, will be taken away from them.’’
Whomsoever you want to love, first of all, know they love you very much. If you doubt somebody’s love, your doubt grows no matter however, or whatever, you receive from him or her. If you want to be close to someone, first begin to feel they are already close to you. When you ask people whether they trust you, you already doubt their trust. You grow in doubt. There is no limit to it; there is no end to convincing people of one’s love, one’s trust, one’s goodness. That is why it is said that those who have not, whatever little they have will also be taken away from them. And those who have will be given more, and more, and more. This is the very law of nature.
Not having is just an attitude in you. It is the direction you are moving in. Whatever is, that grows. The seeds are already there. You sow the seeds and the seeds will grow. They become plenty. If the seed itself lacks something, how can anything grow? Open your eyes and see what you have been given! When you recognise what you have been given, then you become grateful. In that gratefulness, life grows.
This power, this energy, this beauty, this wealth has been given. It is permeating the whole creation, without which not a blade of grass can move. However clever even the devas, the angels are, they cannot move, cannot do anything without the power of consciousness, without this life. Without life there is no beauty. A body is beautiful because there is life in it. The entire creation, the trees, the birds, animals, stones, rivers, is full of life. Life is not just the biological life. Life includes the consciousness that permeates much beyond.
In creation there is beauty—in the operation of creation there is beauty, and in the destruction of creation there is beauty. You can see it in nature all the time. Spring has its own beauty; in mid-summer everything is green; in Fall all the leaves fall and it looks spectacular! The Niagara Falls are so beautiful. To maintain those Niagara Falls year after year, and for ages, a certain process is required. The clouds have to go up, and they have to rain on the Great Lakes; and the Great Lakes have to flow. Only then the Niagara Falls can remain forever. Otherwise, if the water just flows down once, and there is no more water to flow, or it doesn’t rain, the whole beauty is gone!
What has been created with so much beauty, underneath there is also a maintenance principle that maintains it time after time, for centuries. Even a dead log of wood has its record embedded in it; in its genes, in its particles, is recorded its beauty, how it was, and how it is now. Even in transformation there is beauty. Even in anger, there is beauty. Just look at somebody who is very upset. The best awards in the film festivals go to the actors who show intense emotions like anger and frustration. All the emotion that gets exhibited is appreciated.
Just imagine somebody yelling at the top of their voice, grinding their teeth, with red eyes, holding their fists and all the nerves in their throat popping out. Just looking at them is such fun! Otherwise the whole world would be very dull. Imagine everybody going around with an airhostess smile all the time. It is no fun! It is the same thing when children cry. There is some beauty even in crying. When they laugh or smile, there is a beauty in it. If they are angry, there is beauty in it. Beauty is all pervasive. You only have to open your eyes and see the reality that is there.
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