"Beauty outside ourselves is truly an illusion"
If we look at that statement first glance, it may strike us in a discordant way. This is because it flies in the face of our material world. Everything within our material world has been set up to exalt beauty, in any form, as the ultimate thing to strive for. Beautiful homes, beautiful cars, beautiful men, beautiful women, etc. It can be argued that even money is a means to an end in the quest for beauty: beautiful make-up, clothes and other things that will make us feel or look beautiful. Of course, there are other things we strive for such as safety, fulfillment and other non-tangible things.
Someone recently told me that all of the quest for things outside ourself can be boiled down to one quest. The irony is that this quest can never be achieved. In fact, just stating it makes us feel a bit insane in even embarking on it. The quest for us all in some form is to try and turn spirit into matter. This can not be done. Whenever we are striving, desiring or craving anything outside ourselves, we are trying to turn spirit into matter. Isn't this crazy? Yet, there is something inside us that pushes us towards this fool's errand.
I submit that the reason why, like magicians, we are constantly trying to turn spirit into matter, love and happiness into objects, is that we are, in fact, spirit. On our deepest level, we know we are spirit. We know we are eternal beings that are traveling through this life. What we have forgotten, however, is that our quest for beauty is also a quest for perfection. Beauty and perfection reside within us. We run around life like vaporous spirits trying to consume anything and everything yet this passes right through us. It is when our bottomless appetite and unquenchable thirst is directed to the abundant and unending supply within us that we are satisfied.
How do we do this? It is by right knowledge and experience. We realize that we have a bottomless and fathomless supply inside us and then we experience this through a spiritual practice that resonates with us. For some this could be meditation, painting, writing, making music, walking, or some other activity. The only requirement is that this be something that stills our mind and lets us touch the deep peace and wide love within our hearts and souls. The experience of this miracle supply brings things within proper perspective. We truly realize that we are enough. We see anything outside ourselves as cheap imitations of the beauty and perfection within.
Coming back to the topic of beauty, beauty is an illusion because objects themselves are not beautiful. They simply remind us of the beauty within us. The lie is that the beauty is intrinsic to the object, but the truth is that beauty is intrinsic to you. This truth brings more meaning to the statement: "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Love and beauty cannot be separated. It can be said that an object that makes us feel emotions pertaining to beauty in actuality is also helping us feel loving emotions. Beautiful objects, people or making ourselves appear more beautiful is an attempt to increase the love within our own hearts. This makes us feel more loved.
Beauty, as such, should be recognized as pointers to our internal beauty and not as a quest. We, however, do reside in a material world and have been socially conditioned in many ways that are even outside our consciousness. We simultaneously value beauty outside ourselves for what it represents and also quench our desire for external beauty with our inner source. Yet, there is inner tension that exists in this paradox and that is part of the human experience. Of course, we can and should value anything beautiful that we wish yet it is done so in the proper scope and not made into a quest.
We stop trying to turn spirit into matter through quenching our desire for the intangible and spiritual through journeying within. It is when our spiritual life is our first and foremost priority that we realize that beauty outside ourselves is truly an illusion. This actually frees us to pursue whatever we wish in life and begin to separate ourselves from unconscious urges and drives.