The Buddha sat under the tree as usual. The disciples had gathered for the sermon. When a Thera asked the Buddha,
“Master, who is your dearest disciple.”
The Sakhya Muni mentioned the name of a disciple who happened to be the Prime Minister of the land. There was a flutter among the disciples, finally one of them found the courage and asked the Buddha,
“But Lord, he has not given up his riches, he still wears silks and gold, he rides the elephant to the palace”
the Buddha smiled and replied, “ it is the Prime Minister of the land who wears the silks, for it assures the people that all is well. It is the Prime Minister of the land who wears the gold it assures the people of the abundance of the land. It is the Prime Minister of the land who rides the elephant, to remind people that he is there to serve them when they need him.
But the person is detached from all this. Take this away from him, the person is not disturbed. Those clothes, adornments are the obligation of the prime minister and not the person.”
I had read this story in Thera Narada’s book about the Buddha, yet in my everyday life I still went about without really paying much attention to the lesson.
Then came the lockdown. The universe was kind enough to allow me a conversation
with Padmaja Chauhan of the daffodils parlour at caranzeleum. She told me, something even more profound. It was a very simple truth, being aesthetic and presentable is not about make-up or designer clothes. It is about being aesthetically pleasant.
It is instilling that faith in my patients, that I have left my personal baggage outside, to become the space of their healing. I’m that space where they are not judged, but where the tidying of their internal external space occurs. Padmaja could not have put it better. She put me on a week’s challenge her rules were simple:
- No buying cosmetics.
- I was not allowed to spend more than 5mnts.
I was amazed by the sense of discipline, purpose and confidence this simple exercise brought. It reminded me of the flylady’s dress to your shoe rule.
It is rather strange, but the universe seems to keep bringing up beauty into my space over the lockdown.
We are in the mode of shifting and I wanted a particularly aesthetic appearance, my blunt as pole-axe daughter Jay looked at me and decreed “mission impossible” her point was simple I had to let go of all the stuff I stored for “one day it might be useful.”
To me, beauty is defined by the Rasa that it creates. Natyashastra says Rasa-Brahma…Rasa is another post in itself so is Brahma for now Rasa is flavour, the essence the soundaryopasana text has some very interesting inputs. Soundarya is beauty or aesthetics. The text says the primordial being is the Brahma in the worldly context we call it God. This is chidananda or eternally joyous.
Soundarya Upasana says when this eternal joy is visible or can be experienced it is soundarya or beauty.
It manifests like all things in the three gunas. The attraction between male and female, is essential, eternal but it Tamas because it is in the physical plane. The magnetism that attracts people to a persona due the person’s capacity to power of the person is Rajasic and finally the tranquility that comes from the quest of the self… the Brahma…within is sattvic. Each is complete, powerful and essential in itself we traverse through these stages not necessarily in the same order. Each state could be tinted with the other.
The sattvic sringar or the essence of connecting with the beauty within everything begins with taking care of one’s physical body. This evokes a sense of romance from which arises the sense of wonderment which is definitely a more healthy emotional and spiritual space to be in. The ability to see beauty in everything allows us
- Celebrate and nurture life.
- Keeps us tranquil, and happy.
- Gives us the ability to be generous and empathetic. We go beyond the I me myself stage.
- We bond with family, friends and other beings.
- We gain the ability to inspire people through thick and thin even sick and sin.
- We learn to see divinity in everything. The Japanese have a word for it, unfortunately I cannot recollect it right now.
Beauty and desire that come through natural flow of life, is divine as long as we know when to let the attachment go.