Eye of the Beholder

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” ~ John Keats, poet.

I was sitting on my back porch today and I happened to look up at the clouds in a particular moment and noticed that they were exceptionally beautiful.  In my mind, I found myself saying how only God could make such a thing as that.

Now, I’m not what you would call a religious person, but just sitting there staring at the clouds was both deeply touching and deeply rewarding for me.  For a brief moment, I felt at one with everything around me.

I think the idea that only God could make something so beautiful is quite true.  After all, what mortal man, with all of his technology or artistic skill could make something as beautiful as a bona-fide sunset?  Certainly no one thus far.

There have been times where I’ve looked out upon nature and it all seemed almost artificial to me.  For instance, sometimes I’ll notice a slight curvature to the sky, as though I was under a giant dome.  Other times, when I’m high above the ground (especially in an airplane), I’ll look out and the world will appear more like a diorama than actual life.  Sometimes I’ll walk through the park and remember that the landscape there was arranged by man – ordered, tamed, unnatural, almost clinical, even.

And yet there are always those times where I look upon nature and feel the presence of God and life in everything around me that fills me with peace and joy and love.

“Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.” ~ David Hume, philosopher

Many people of lesser mind use the argument of beauty as proof of God’s existence without truly understanding what they’re talking about.  Almost immediately after I made my remark about the clouds today, my mind took a dualistic position.  I reasoned that God didn’t have any effect on the clouds.  That it was just water in the atmosphere collecting to form a random pattern.  If there was any beauty involved, it was all in my own mind and not something objective outside myself.

I contemplated this argument for a minute and then realized that it was also true.  There wasn’t anything outside myself that made it particularly beautiful.  Beauty was an internal conception, something only a human mind could conceive of.  But that just goes to further prove that God had a hand in making what I saw.  For if God is in all of us, which he is, and if God is the observer looking out through our minds and bodies, and if our perceptions create a sense of beauty in the mind in reaction to some external stimulus; then through a transitive line of reasoning, it stands that God created the beautiful scene that I observed.

In my lecture on symbols, I talked about how symbols only have those meanings we apply to them.  Without that, they’re just a collection of random lines and shapes.  But it’s the creative and associate processes that take place in our minds that make these symbol something else.

What is a cloud but a randomization of water molecules in the air?  If we see shapes in the clouds, we are taking that raw material and creating something out of it.  It’s no different than an artisan taking a lump of clay and molding it into a shape conceived of in his mind, except that we’re not touching the vapor with our hands.  We’re crafting it solely (soul-ly) within ourselves.

“No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Beauty is something that has been analyzed for millenia.  The dictionary defines beauty as “the quality of a person or thing that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction, whether arising from the senses, meaning, pattern, spirit, or other.”

In layman’s terms, beauty is everything that you expect a thing to be.  If you see a beautiful sunset, it has every quality that you, personally, think a sunset ought to have.  It fully meets your expectations of a textbook sunset.  Likewise, a beautiful man or woman has all the qualities you are looking for.  If their personality matches your unique expectations, then that person has inner beauty as well.

Because each person has their own mind with their own thoughts, tastes, and preferences, their perception of what is beautiful and what isn’t will be inherently different from that of everyone else; unless said individual has been influenced by social trends and molded to think a certain way.  Remember, societies have minds too on a different level of consciousness.

Even putrid, disgusting, and malevolent things can be beautiful in their own right.  Ugly dolls , for instance.  Or pugs.  Many people adore pugs specifically for their ugliness.  Similarly, a crime that is said to be a “work of art,” such as a murder, has everything you’d expect from the perfect crime.

In traveling down I-95, going through Elizabeth, New Jersey, there is a certain chemical plant along the side of the road that spews steam and, quite possibly, pollutants into the air.  Yet at night, it is a sight to behold with all its lights.  It almost reminds me of that scene from The Matrix Revolutions where Neo is blind and yet everything he sees is made of light.  Even though he’s in the most hellish place on earth, he can’t help but be in amazed at the beauty all around him when viewed from a higher perspective.  Whenever I pass by that plant, I can’t help but gaze in awe myself and wonder how something so bad for the environment could, at the same time, be so beautiful.  Only something from within, the divine spark, could create that.

The ability to see beauty or ugliness around us depends upon what level of consciousness our mind is in at the time we observe a given event.  If we are on the dualistic level of lower consciousness, separated from God, we will see nothing but horror and strife.  Conversely, if we are resonating with love and oneness on a higher level of consciousness, then we will see beauty in all things.

The phenomena around us are simply random, neutral events.  What changes is our perception of them and the order and beauty and meaning we bring to them.  We’re the ones applying bias one way or the other, depending on the lenses we choose to see the world through.  We are the creators, creating our own universes.

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