Truth and Beauty

My mind this morning was drawn to truth and beauty, both having appeared in my morning meditation. “They are the two things that make life worth living,” I thought. Life is immeasurably enhanced when they are present or made sad and poor when they are absent.

In the presence of beauty, difficulties seem more tolerable. In ugly surroundings happy moments feel diminished somehow. If I am lonely, taking a walk in nature lifts me up and affirms that I am part of a bigger beautiful world. On the other hand, taking a walk among derelict buildings accentuates my loneliness. Have you noticed how hard it is to feel good walking on the walkway of a busy urban motorway? A beautiful setting mirrors the best in us, but an ugly setting can smother it. Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of how a simple urban policy of replacing broken windows on derelict buildings lowered the local crime rate. Ugliness approves more ugliness, whereas beauty is a call for yet more beauty. Associating with beauty makes us feel beautiful. It affirms the beauty in us and in others. With beauty we see differently and think differently.

Truth is not less than beauty. Like beauty, the presence of truth is life affirming. It provides certainty and perspective with which we can orient ourselves reliably in the world. With the truth we can see things clearly which helps us make good choices. We all value the truth. Even when the truth is unpalatable, we would rather hear it than not. We all know that the world is a poorer place for the lack of truth. We assess everything with the truth: “is your love true?”, “do you really mean it?”, “is that what really happened?”, and so on.

When we associate with the truth, by speaking it ourselves and by being genuine in our actions, we attune to the truth. Our instinct for the truth deepens the more we associate with it. Our hearing becomes sensitive to whether a spoken word is true or not. In the same way that we become beautiful by associating with beauty, we become truthful and authentic by tending to the truth in all our dealings. In the truth module of my Dharma workshops, I ask everyone to practice speaking only the truth for as long as they can (no ‘white lies’) for up to a week and to write down their experiences.

It is the intent with which we approach truth and beauty that reveals their value and importance to us. No doubt, there are subjective truths that may not hold true for all people. But there are undoubtedly truths that we all hold dear. And while “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, there are indeed generally held notions of beauty that we all share, say for instance a sunset.

At a time of untruth, when everything is being called into question, it might prove useful to associate with the deeper notions of truth and beauty that are embodied in the model of Dharma.

PS. My truth and beauty meditation today presented itself tangibly to me with the sight of a mother Blue Tit bird, flying into a bird box I put up in my garden a few years ago. Sometimes simple pleasures like this speak volumes.


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  1. Bevis

    Wonderful to see these blog posts and coming again.
    This is a lovely reflection on how truth begets truth, and beauty begets beauty. It also makes me think what a real and worthwhile challenge it is to wilfully bring beauty and truth into places where they are absent.

    • Michael Geary

      “To bring beauty and truth into places where they are absent…,” seems to me the hallmark of a well-lived life. It serves the environment and people we bring it to, but equally important it means we ourselves have to associate with them first. Doing so enriches us in immeasurable ways. Thanks for commenting Bevis.

  2. Hayley

    Your piece about Truth and Beauty filled my whole being with oxygen, when you hear the truth you know it in your deepest self, and respond to it with a silent ‘Yes!’And a sense of well being.
    Thank you for starting my day in the right place.
    All is well.

    • Michael Geary

      Thank you Hayley. The more we associate with truth and beauty in ourselves the more we can recognise it in others. Speaking truthfully, as a matter of daily practice, attunes our consciousness and make it easier for us to discriminate between what is true and untrue. I love your comment, that the subject of “truth and beauty filled your being with oxygen”. The Sanskrit word for breath is “prana”, which means life, or life force. Truth and beauty are the sure pathways to living a vital life. Enjoy your day!

  3. Katie Kavanagh

    I love these inquisitive posts – it brings my mind back into focus on these important aspects of life. Thank you for your beautiful work.

    • Michael Geary

      Hi Katie,
      Thanks for the feedback. In the Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that “from wherever the mind wanders due to its fickle and unsteady nature, the yogi brings it back under the control of his self”. Simple meditations like this blog post is just one way of bring focus back into our daily life. I also prefer asking questions rather than just making statements. Marilynne Robinson says that “a question is more spacious than a statement”. I like that. Thanks for posting. —M

  4. Inez canvasser

    Beautiful reflections on truth and beauty. Not hard to find the beauty during this springtime when the flowers abound and the birds and bees are relishing all the nectar from the flowering trees and plants. Truth on the other hand is a bit harder to come by for some who don’t want to hear the truth. This makes it difficult for the giver as well as the receiver but is something we must strive for continually, never the less. Thank you for all your truths and beauty 💐🐝💐🐝💐🐝

    • Michael Geary

      Point well taken. A thought crossed my mind in reading your post… which is that truth and beauty are constituents of love. Love in this regard means taking the care to speak honestly (and palatably), out of concern for the welfare of the other — even if the other has no interest in the subject. Like you say, we must however strive for sharing the truth because its gives value to all. Thank you for your thoughtful post. –M

  5. Richard & Alice Matzkin

    Enjoy your posts. Truthful and beautiful and crystal clear and to the point.


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