Beauty is in the eye of the beholder


Or is beauty in the eye of the beer holder?

As I got dressed this morning after showering, I put on my new jeans and a flannel shirt that my Wife had pressed so beautifully for me. She looked at me and said “Honey, you look really hot today!”. I turned and looked in the mirror, and had to agree with her, I was looking pretty darn good today. “Not bad for a 56-year-old man”, I thought to myself. I then proceeded downstairs to sit and do my daily practice.

As I began meditation, thoughts of impermanence were very strong. Perhaps because of my recent emergency room visit, but maybe just because of my Wife’s comment. Regardless, my meditation always involves observing the three marks of existence (Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta) which are impermanence, suffering and No-Self. And with some regularity, I spend some time really focusing on the decay and disgusting composition of my body. Now I would not recommend this to everyone, but based on my character (carita), I find this to be very beneficial. You see the body is made up of cells that are all dying and decaying. Also, our body is filled with blood, puss, bile, sinew and various other elements that are anything but attractive or beautiful to most of us.
And as I observed this reality, those words of looking “hot” today came to mind. Realizing instantly that we all have such powerful perceptions based on illusion, with beauty being only one of these. Seeing what we want to see and avoiding the rest.
At the same time, thoughts arose of the night before when the young(ish) female Doctor kept using the phrase “a man of your age”. Obviously, in her view I am an old guy, yet in my mind I am still a young man. Which one of us is correct?

The truth is, our perceptions are always delusion and they prevent us from accepting this life without desire or aversion. Additionally it is always, without exception, our own lack of understanding and acceptance that causes all of our dissatisfaction. Beauty itself is merely an illusion propagated by a lack of complete awareness (sati-sampajañña). These habitual thoughts, mental formations and actions (sankara) are recurring with every moment that we are alive. And I believe it is only through diligent practice that we can begin to lift the veil of illusion and see this life as it really is. Perhaps in finding that, we can all see and understand the true meaning of beauty.

3 comments for “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

  1. Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 11:56 am

    It’s been said that the eye is the gateway to the soul. It might be fair to say that the next step from “Beauty is in the eye…”, is that there must be some sort of soulful or deep connection between beholder and “beholdee”.

    Perhaps one of the main keys to finding the beauty in all things is discovering our connectedness to it. A surgeon would not be grossed out by your blood, puss or bile, ok maybe the puss part, but they are studied in just how integral all of that is to the science of the body so to them it might be fascinating to a degree.
    Ok, it’s time for this very young 37 yr old to have a beautiful salad! :)

  2. Patricia
    Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    David – enjoyed your reflections on aging – concerned about your ER visit. Are you ok now? Sending healing thoughts and energies your way (adjusted for a “man of your age”, of course)!

    • David
      Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 6:43 am

      Thank you so much Patrica, and yes I am doing much better now. (for a man my age anyway)

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