When we say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it can mean at least two things.
It can mean that it’s subjective, which is true enough.
It also means something more fundamental. It means that we are the one who brings beauty to something. The way we see and perceive brings beauty – or not – to something.
WHAT MAKES SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL TO ME?
What makes something beautiful to me?
The more I am open to wonder and awe, the more it seems beautiful.
The more I know and understand about it, the more beautiful it is.
The more I realize we are intimately connected, the more beautiful.
The more I am free of stressful and unquestioned thoughts about it, the more beautiful.
The more awe there is that anything exists at all, the more beautiful anything is.
LAYERS OF BEAUTY
There are also layers in what makes something beautiful to me.
Something appears beautiful because of my biology, culture, and personality. I love certain landscapes, flowers, animals, birds, and people. Because of the conditioning of my human self, it’s easy to see the beauty in it.
Something or someone may also be beautiful in other ways. I love the vultures here because they are living beings like me, they are important in this ecosystem, they serve very important functions, they are often despised by others. To themselves, they are very likely consciousness like me. All of that helps me see their beauty. I love them for those reasons.
WHAT ABOUT THE TERRIBLE THINGS?
What about disease? Suffering? War? Death? The end of civilizations? The end of humanity? The end of all we know?
I can find the beauty there too, although it takes a little more transformation of my perception since it goes against what I learned from culture.
Death is necessary for life. Death is what allows anything to be. It opens space for something new. It creates the conditions for something new. The death of stars created the matter we and this living planet is made of. The death of species allows for new species. The death of individuals opens space for new individuals. The death of civilizations opens for new civilizations. The death of one phase of life opens space for another.
I have a chronic illness. Can I find the beauty there too? Yes. Now and then, I experience grief, sadness, frustration, fear, and so on in relation to it. And I also find the genuine beauty in it. It has helped me see that life moves in other directions than my personal wishes and desires, and that’s OK. It’s to be expected. It has opened up a lot for me. It has helped me release identification with the idea of me as productive, smart, someone who excels in academia, someone with a future in academia, and so on. It has opened up time for me. It has helped me find a genuine appreciation for rest. It has helped me be more sincere and transparent with others. And much more. There are many genuine gifts in it. (And I wouldn’t choose it, of course, if I had a choice.)
What about suffering? Suffering too has gifts in it. At one level, it shows me what to avoid in life. It shows me to avoid what brings physical pain and illness, noise, certain people and situations, and so on. It’s a guide built into me from evolution and my ancestors. At another level, it shows me when I hold onto painful and unexamined stories. It’s a pointer to painful stories and an invitation to examine them and find what’s more true for me. These may be stories holding me back from making necessary and kind changes, and it may be stories making me struggle with what is. I won’t choose suffering, and parts of me still don’t like suffering, but when it’s here, I can use it as a pointer and find genuine appreciation for it. I can see the beauty in it.
Is there beauty in war and violence? As terrible as it is, and as much as I want to prevent it, there is some kind of beauty here too. It’s a part of humanity working things out for themselves. It seems to be part of the process we are collectively living. It’s part of evolution. It’s part of how this living planet and how this universe evolves and explores itself through and as us.
BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
So beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I am the one perceiving beauty.
My mind creates the beauty I see.
And the more my heart and mind are open, the more I understand, and the more I examine my stories, the more easily I find beauty in anything, including what’s terrible according to my personality and what I previously learned from my culture.
Image created by me and MidjourneyRead More