The Dharma Dynamics Online Programme
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.
Feel like sharing?
“Being well. Doing well.”
Download My Free Booklet When You Join Our Mailing List
You’ll also receive our regular newsletter and details about our upcoming events. You can easily unsubscribe at any time.