As I look out into the world, I see so much to be grateful for. Surrounded by beauty, I am left with no doubt that we live in a spirit-filled world that is becoming more authentic in the beauty that it can appreciate. For so long, we have come to define beauty on a superficial level, but as we grow, our ability to appreciate beauty will grow within us.
With this, understand that only we can recognize and appreciate what is truly beautiful when we have unified with the essence of our own beauty within ourselves—so many struggles to find the beauty in the world when they look outside. Fearful of what they will encounter, they see a world filled with anger, hostility, and ugliness, and because this is what they see, this is what becomes real for them, and they continue to live as their self-fulfilling prophecy would have it be.
Neglecting their own beauty, they have swallowed a nightmare pill that alters dramatically the world in which they see. Turning away from the spirit, they have chosen to embrace the ego, which sees things always in a distorted light. With power and strength to gain for itself, the ego is devoted not to searching for beauty but to finding that which can build it up in the world’s eyes. Concerned with the physical world and pleasing those within it, it is not interested in the spirit’s wisdom.
Not wanting to be the protagonist in its own demise, the ego has a vested interest in keeping the true source of beauty from your eyes. Not wanting you to experience the awe that beauty inspires, it seeks to keep you in a state of boredom where you ask no questions of life. Asking no questions, you cease to interact with life, and you deprive yourself of the answers that God wants to give to you. This is what it means to be reactive to life and to suffer in the process.
Called to be proactive, we do not grow in our life experience if we have closed ourselves off to what it seeks to teach us. Wanting to show us the beauty in the world and ourselves is a willing teacher, but a teacher has no role to occupy without a student in attendance. This is why we must be open-minded in beauty’s presence. With much to give, there is much to learn about the beauty of God, which manifests itself in all things.
It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What this means to me is that each of us has the capacity to find beauty in different things. What some label beautiful, others might label ugly, and vice versa. But does it really matter what verdict is passed on whether something is pleasing to the eye or not? What matters absolutely is the seed of beauty to be found in all things that God has created. With the beauty of the creator pervading each of his creations, that beauty is definitely there to see. Does the question then become what the quality of the vision of the observer is?
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Many can see the beauty in all that surrounds them, but even more, they are not. Selective in what they ascribe the label ‘beautiful’ to, these people have chosen to honor the mind above the heart, which is all to discriminating. Seeing more than the mind can see, the heart knows that it is futile to judge because it realizes that judgment passed on that which appears in a diminished light is falsely condemned. Seeing only a portion of the whole, much is misunderstood, and embracing only a part is rejected as irrelevant. See, in this, the dangerous game that we play when we choose to have the ego’s eyes is the filter we view the world.
Seeing only fragments of beauty that it has contaminated through its own judgment, much is discarded and even less honored, for God cannot be seen by that which despises his presence. Wanting you not to see him, the ego will lead you to label him as ugly, much that is beautiful in appearance and substance.
Intense in its loathing, the ego is not always rational in its judgment, and even in its certainty, it misses much to be appreciated. See how the ego’s arrogance often leads it to abandon that which could otherwise serve it. Cursed in its blindness, it makes not for wise counsel to the one who searches for a deeper experience of life.
Wanting to experience love, one must consult the heart, the center of beauty inside the self. Being not separate from God, it is the gift that God has given us to enjoy the world. Blessed with much, we can find much joy when we look upon the world with spiritual eyes. Hindered not by the ego’s shortcomings, we can see the love behind the barriers and the distinctions that make the miraculous commonplace.
Blessed in spirit, we must not take for granted that which can teach us who we truly are. Endowed with wisdom, all of God’s creations are capable teachers, and assuming not a separate identity from him, they are models to be emulated. With this, learn that beauty is distorted as the separation is affected. So as you travel far from him, so will your ability to experience beauty diminish in strength.
Concerned primarily with attaching labels at the moment, what eludes you is the beauty inherent in entering the moment. To enter the moment is to join with God in your heart and see what he sees in the physical world. With all that he created being good, you can see the love that pervades everything in the light of the spirit. Appreciating everything just as it is, you understand that it is enough and that the ego does not have to be invited to enhance what is complete in itself.
Complete, the gifts of God are holy in what they hold and what they deliver. Endowed with beauty, they bring to the lost man much that is invaluable. Longing for God, those who are lost suffer in their desperation. Convinced of their own ugliness, the memories of their eternal beauty slip into the past. But the past is not lost forever, for every illusion stands to be corrected, and as a partner with eternity, it will not fail to reveal itself in a touch that the moment has in store, for the child who sees clearly now, not yearning for more.
One of the most memorable times that I recall beauty touching me deeply was in Florence when I went to see Michelangelo’s David. I had heard from many people how wonderful this classical piece of sculpture was, but hearing a second-hand account doesn’t prepare you for its effect on the soul when you see it in person. To say that I was taken aback by its beauty would be an understatement. I was left absolutely speechless! To think that one man saw this masterpiece in that block of marble and saw it as his purpose to bring it to life for all to enjoy is awe-inspiring to me.
But as I was standing there, just gazing up at the masterwork, I knew not the distraction of thought that attempted to persuade my mind to intellectualize how the work was brought to life. This allowed me to center myself and let the profound beauty that emanated from the shiny white surface move my spirit powerfully at the moment. And as I just allowed the moment to touch me, I felt for a moment just how Michelangelo must have felt with the chisel in his hand and the spirit in his heart, for as I am not alone with my pen, he was not alone with his tools, for with every incision had God’s hand revealed itself so gently and lovingly.
All in all, I spent about an hour in the company of David, listening only to the silence which was my teacher. And as I meditated on what had greeted my senses, I felt a deep sense of appreciation begin to emerge. As my eyes began to well up with tears, my constant companion placated my fears that I would miss something, a moment, which taught me who I am, not alone in war, but beautiful and fair.
To know Michelangelo must have been to be in the company of a great lover. Here was a man who made it his life’s purpose to serve the world by making manifest in physical form the love that he carried inside. How else can you explain it? To look into the eyes of David is to know without a shadow of a doubt that he was conceived in love, and because it was this love that filled Michelangelo’s heart, the conception was inevitable.
With this, understand that love never leaves beauty unexpressed, for that is not love’s way. And in the same way that loves will never leave beauty unexpressed, so will it never leave the witnesses to that beauty untouched, for the heart that was inspired to bring the beauty to life is in no way separate from the heart of the witness who has seen in that beauty a clear image of themself revealed.
See in this how all embodiments of beauty carry a reflection that is not one-dimensional. If you were to observe a rose, you would be moved by the beauty of that rose, but what has moved you is not limited to the petals, stems, and thorns that make up that rose. What you receive from that rose is an experience of the beauty of nature which is in no way separate from all that the rose is because nature is the essence of its being. And as it is with the rose, so it is with you because nature is the very essence of who you are. As God has breathed life into the rose, so has God breathed life into you, and in it, you get a glimpse of not only its glory but your glory as well, which is a stranger not to the glory of God.
Endowed with all that is beautiful, do not doubt what is yours to give, and as you awake from your slumber, so will your brothers and sisters enjoy a more peaceful rest. Not tormented by their hideous nightmares, a new joy will emerge in the form of a dream that is not isolated in how it comes to bless them. As beauty multiplies, so do its visions, in the mind that has unified itself with the heart.
Filled with this love, joy replaces sorrow, and gratitude replaces judgment, for as the Lord has spoken, you need not open your mouth to speak. Speaking in glorious tongues, you are left with no doubt that what he has to say is real. Beautiful in its composition, it is undeniably powerful in its resonance. Teaching your heart, the mind finds rest, subsumed by the grace that has cradled it, and when it awakes, immense beauty awaits it, in both its relationship to the physical and the infinite, which know no divide. Being what beauty has conquered, love has done its work through the eye of the spirit that cannot be blinded to the world’s worth.