“Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder”
On a conventional, relative level, this refers to our individual taste, which is formed by our individual understanding and opinion, and will be limited. On an ultimate level, beauty is seen as ‘rightness’. The audience goes wild when a performer does what they do well on a talent show: their performance may not be to the audience’s individual tastes but there is a recognition of rightness of effort, and love.
But it goes deeper than that.
If we drop a heavy weight on to glass, it will break. This will leave an awful mess, but that pattern of mess will have a rightness about it, due to specific causes and conditions. At that moment, the components could do nothing else; that is the rightness of the situation.
We may not like the mess – and even see the above description as a waste of time – and that too will have a rightness about it. Why? As we all have a limited view about whatever we see (we see through a glass darkly), that view we hold also has a rightness about it.
‘Right’ is not meant as the antithesis of wrong – that judgement comes later. ‘Right’ here means that all the elements – the causes and conditions – are present for something to be created or destroyed.
Evil is anything that creates harm, down to the subtlest of levels – a gesture, a look, a word – and is governed by the universal forces of attraction and repulsion (like and dislike). Evil is Dharma in reverse. The purpose of the teachings of the Dharma are to counteract the forces of attraction and repulsion. The evil actions that take place in the world happen precisely because there is nothing outside these forces of attraction and repulsion (like and dislike), and therefore, evil has a rightness about it. To reiterate: ‘rightness’ does not mean something is ‘right’ as opposed to ‘wrong’. Rather, it is in the sense that, if a person does not take care and ignores the ice on the pavement, they will slip over.
There is a beauty in this understanding. One could say that the power of physics cannot be ignored; if you place the correct pressure on something, it will break. In the first instant of seeing, we are mere observers, and the ‘eye of the beholder’ is consciousness (in its ultimate form, pure consciousness).
Conventional beauty is subjective, and limited to collective ideas. Something may appear beautiful, but all phenomena is impermanent, so external beauty isn’t lasting. Authentic beauty lies in the realisation that consciousness is pure and right, and therefore beautiful.
True beauty is in the everlasting. That is pure consciousness, for without that, nothing would be known. The true expression of beauty is caring – love, empathy and compassion – and for this, we need generosity, tolerance, discipline, conscience and concentration. And above all, wisdom. Wisdom is the realisation of the true nature of all minds, and that is emptiness. Pure spirit.
The eye of the beholder witnesses karma, which is the fruition of previous activities. Karma is therefore our teacher. The rightness of karma is beautiful. Recognising this, we are ultimately beautiful – and always have been!