What is Beauty? Beauty is in the Heart of the Beholder

What is Beauty? Beauty is in the Heart of the Beholder
Image by Joanna Niininen

Beauty is not in the face,
 Beauty is a light in the heart.
                            -- Kahlil Gibran

I am incredibly grateful that in my life I have had teachers, mentors and guides who laid out for me the lessons of timeless wisdom and set out a practical path to increased awareness and self-knowledge. On that journey to higher consciousness I was guided through many wonderful exercises and practices which led me to the personal experience of higher consciousness.

One such exercise was concerned with the contemplation and experience of beauty. One day at a retreat - I was quite young at the time - I was in a group, and we were asked to fall deeply still and find a restful place within. Then, when we opened our eyes, we saw a projected image of a beautiful peach-coloured rose, bathed in sunlight, with a drop or two of water on the petals. We were asked to simply allow the eyes to rest on this image.

There is much that can be said about such a simple exercise of contemplating a beautiful image with a clear mind and a still heart.

For me the most important thing was acknowledging that I could only know the external beauty of a rose in full bloom if I knew that the beauty within myself as well. Seeing beauty outside was an act of recognition. I knew that beauty was already within myself. And I understood that it was the same beauty.

What Is Beauty?

So what is that Beauty, that we see around us, and that we experience as part of our own being?

Sanskrit has several words for Beauty that fill out our understanding. Saundarya (सौन्दर्य) which means graceful, elegant and lovely, and also refers to noble conduct and generosity; Chārutā (चारुता), which carries a sense of loveliness, and of that which is agreeable and beloved; and finally, Shobhā (शोभा) which relates to brilliance, lustre and splendour.


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We can combine the meanings of these three words and say that Beauty is lovely, graceful and elegant, and also noble and generous, it is beloved, and it shines and radiates splendour. This gives us a very full description of Beauty. It certainly includes the physical beauty of a handsome person, a harmoniously designed building, an expertly executed work of art, a finely crafted piece of jewelry.

But this full description of Beauty, derived from Sanskrit, with its inclusion of nobility and generosity and love and splendour, takes us beyond the merely physical.

The sun dappled rose is a thing of beauty. It is elegant and lovely. In a subtle and magical way, it is also generous. The flower displays its beauty and its radiance to whomever happens upon it, without any judgment or any wish for anything in return.

And we can move further beyond the physical to beautiful behaviour and actions. What of a mother caring for her child, attending to grazed knee, wiping away the tears, setting him back on his feet? Here is beauty indeed.

And in the world of creativity and invention what of a piece of beautiful music that uplifts the hearts and nourishes the minds of the audience and the players alike? What of a painting that presents to us a view of the world that surprises and delights? Or a poem or novel that opens a door to intriguing places and allows us to experience emotions and ideas in a fresh way? Here also we find great beauty.

Beauty in Science and Technology

In the world of science and technology the intricacies of machines, and computers, aeroplanes and cars, great ships and factories that allow us to move around the world, and which bring us all that our heart desires. Isn’t there something beautiful in a matrix of commerce and invention that can deliver fresh milk to your refrigerator, your favourite movie to your TV, and a gift to your beloved?

And finally, what about the highest values and principles that make life worth living – honour, kindness, courage, respect, justice, and wisdom. Aren’t these perhaps the most beautiful things of all. To see honesty in action, respect in speech, courageous behaviour, and acts of kindness to friends and strangers alike.

These are all examples of Saundarya – elegance, grace, nobility, generosity; Chārutā – loveliness, and love itself; Shobhā – radiance, lustre and brilliance.

And we see these everywhere, if would just open our eyes.

Finding Beauty Within Our Heart

In the exercise with the rose we were asked first to close our eyes and find a still place of peace within our hearts. Then, when we opened our eyes we were presented with the sight of the peach-coloured rose. It was a wonderful experience carefully created by intelligent and sensitive teachers.

But we don’t have to wait for such perfect circumstances. Beauty is all around us. And, more importantly it is within each of us. At any time, we can go to a still place inside and look out and see a world of beauty, brilliance and nobility.

The timeless wisdom of Sanskrit lays out a pathway to a marvelous world of love and beauty. It is a path that is open to all of us. The destination is well-worth the journey.

©2020 by Sarah Mane. All Rights Reserved.

Book by this Author:

Conscious Confidence: Use the Wisdom of Sanskrit to Find Clarity and Success
by Sarah Mane

Conscious Confidence: Use the Wisdom of Sanskrit to Find Clarity and Success by Sarah ManeDrawing on the timeless wisdom of Sanskrit, Sarah Mane offers a practical confidence-boosting system derived from the deepest meanings of Sanskrit concepts, complete with practical exercises. She outlines the fourfold energies of Conscious Confidence and shows how to discover a steady inner source of compassion, self-direction, and self-empowerment. (Also available as an Audiobook and a Kindle edition.)

For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as an Audiobook and a Kindle edition.

About the Author

Sarah Mane, author of Conscious ConfidenceSarah Mane is a Sanskrit scholar with a particular interest in the wisdom of Sanskrit as a practical means to life-mastery. Previously a teacher and school executive, today she is a transformational and executive coach. Visit her website: https://consciousconfidence.com

Video/Presentation with Sarah Mane: Sanskrit – its Beauty, Power and Relevance for Today!

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