I must admit that it’s a pleasure to hear someone say that I look beautiful—despite my conviction that it’s purely a subjective judgement. But it’s a fragile compliment when it pertains to my features alone, because it is not from within me that this beauty arises—it was a gift from my parents at birth.
Beauty is something we can appreciate through our senses in the way things appear or taste or smell or feel or sound. But it is a deeper value of beauty, something so compelling and powerful in our experience of it, which moves us to joy, to tears, to live on. That power deep within the experience of beauty is the divine eternal aspect of life radiating its perfection. Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “Beauty is truth’s smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror.”
Tagore was saying that the essence of Reality itself is beauty— as it emanates from its core and manifests in infinite facets of diversity—reflecting perfectly its essence in a mirror of the infinite. We just need to be fully awake to the deepest levels of nature to appreciate it. Confucius said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” The gift of perceiving beauty more deeply comes to me through my TM practice which continually unfolds my potential to know deeper levels of myself and reality. The capacity to appreciate the full range of beauty from its surface appearance to the depths of its sustaining splendor is cultivated by the transcending process during the TM technique, through which the mind becomes increasingly acquainted with subtler levels of perception..
Since learning TM, I find an increase in the myriad ways beauty reveals itself to me. Here are some of my thoughts on beauty and quotes from women I admire:
When someone tells me I have uplifted them in some way, that is when I feel beautiful. Audrey Hepburn said, “The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows.”
When I see the happiness on a child’s face as she plays—the uncomplicated simple joy of it—I see beauty. Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote, “Beauty is whatever gives joy.”
When my New York neighbors, of so many different belief systems, religions, and cultures, strive to appreciate each other’s viewpoints and live in harmony, I see beauty. “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”– Maya Angelou
I have looked at my grandmother—a woman with a tired worn face, and I have seen that face light up with beauty when a ray of happiness enters her heart. Maria Mitchell, a 19th century astronomer and educator, claimed, “There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness.”
Research has shown that when women gather together, the nourishing effect of their company improves their health. They experience reduced depression and increased well-being. I’ve observed this in my friends when we are in each other’s company. The actress Jennifer Aniston wrote, “You know when I feel inwardly beautiful? When I am with my girlfriends and we are having a ‘goddess circle’.”
I love music and am learning to sing in order to allow myself the chance of being, however humble, an instrument of the beauty of sound and harmony. I’ve become aware that when I feel creative, when I have the impulse of inspiration, the experience expands my soul. It’s painful to doubt ones creative impulses, and it’s blissful to nourish them—whether they be personal or on a global scale. Louisa May Alcott wrote, “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” And Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Perceiving beauty can perchance be a conduit to the transcendent. A ray of light through the clouds, the expanse of the ocean, the galaxy of stars—all are beheld by the mechanism of the eyes but appreciated by the limitless inner spirit. Award winning author Eleanor Catton wrote, “To experience sublime natural beauty is to confront the total inadequacy of language to describe what you see. Words cannot convey the scale of a view that is so stunning it is felt.” And Cote de Pablo, a Chilean-American actress and recording artist, said, “I’ve seen the majestic beauty of nature and the overwhelming perfection of it. To me, there’s nothing closer to God than that.”.
Limitlessness is a blessing. We are drawn to it, we yearn for it. It is the nature of our selves and of all life and surely is the source and goal of all our strivings. Its flavor is Beauty, which lifts us up and reminds us in that moment that we are eternal.