When I was younger, I used to wonder why my spiritual teacher was so interested in art*, and why he was always surrounded by beautiful women. Why did he spend time on these things, what was he trying to do? Was this a vacation from his job as spiritual teacher?
Here are some remarks I found interesting:
It is one of the greatest weapons of the Asura** (ego) at work when you are taught to shun beauty. It has been the ruin of India. The Divine manifests in the psychic as love, in the mind as knowledge, in the vital as power, and in the physical as beauty. If you discard beauty it means that you are depriving the Divine of his manifestation in the material and you hand over that part to the Asura….
In the physical world, of all things it is beauty that expresses best the Divine.
[Excerpted from A Practical Guide to Integral Yoga: extracts compiled from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1955.) This book is included in The Basket of Tolerance, the Epitome of Traditional Wisdom, section on "the fourth stage of life", by Adi Da Samraj.]
* See Da Plastique.
** Asura is a term the speaker used which could be interpreted as ignorance, falsehood, and ego in the world. It was used in a personified sense, as in humanity’s collective egoity personified, similar to the Christian concept of “the devil”.
Questions for discussion:
- Do you think beauty is important? Please be honest.
- Is beauty a part of your ordinary, daily life? Or is it something you only expect to experience when you’re a tourist in a glamorous, far-away place?
- In our world, things like plastic surgery are popular, especially for celebrities. Is this the kind of beauty that seems to express the Divine to you?
- Have you noticed that societies that suppress women and suppress beauty (or exploit women in negative ways) tend to have more problems with warfare, poverty, and environmental destruction?
- What is beauty? My teacher once said “That which is loved is beautiful.”