(taken in tibet)
They say beauty is in the mind of the beholder. And I define beauty as a view of the beholder – as there is in reality, no beauty out there except a conceptual perception of how and what things should be in a certain way. Yours and my perception of beauty are entirely different. Yes, while there are times when we are in congruent with what we see, but even then we never really know what is in each other’s mind.
Environment is an example. About two weeks ago, I was invited to view a house that was going out for sale. Being in that prestigious environment for many a times now, I was expecting to see another beautiful architecture coming into my view. But I was cautioned beforehand instead that the house for sale would not be what we thought it was. Being open to new experiences, and partially curious with what the seller was defining, I was keen to explore what’s in store for me.
We arrived early and waited for the caretaker to open the gate. The land being steep in terrain disallowed us to view the house from where we were standing. By observing what was around the gate we came to a conclusive idea that this house was unlike any usual design and I also observed that my mind was not in its usual comfortable state. Awhile later, the caretaker turned up and we were driven up to the house.
Being prepared for the unexpected, what I saw was not what I expected – the unexpected expectations, I mean. Being an architectural draftsman for over eleven years, the design to my opinion was shabby, disorientated and lack of aesthetic value. In short, it was not confined to my perceived idea of how a house should be like, hence there was no beauty in it.
As I viewed the house along with my friends, I could not help but be watchful of another unseen friend walking by my side; not spirit or ghost as you may think; but rather the internal dialogue going on in the mind. Whatever the mind saw, it saw with judgments – structure made of used materials, walls done up with styrofoams (yes, compounded styrofoams), unfinished walls exposing the bricks, mortar and rugged plastering. Beer bottles were cemented to a section of its wall, probably to create a signature of uniqueness, which to my internal commentator, was tasteless.
There was nothing that I could see beauty in. Being mindful of the judgments, I made myself comfortable at the open terrace that overlooked an unclean pond, with a few fishes in it. Somehow despite all those negativity of perceptions going on in the mind, the air exuberated a sense of peace and tranquillity. Here I started to look into my own ideas and came to an interesting observation and realization. People who are connected to nature would have probably view this house as a piece of art and for them to stay in a sanitized, clean and neat properly-designed concrete house can probably be a devastating experience to their inner soul. On the opposite, those from the modern society with luxurious homely experiences would probably not see this as a house, not to mention stay in it.
As I observed my understanding ravelled in that moment, I could see the judgments I had about the house earlier slowing fading away. In a very interesting way, like the movie Avatar, where the colours of the invisible world is much more vivid and contrasting, pale in comparison to those in the human dimension, I suddenly came to an awareness of the richness of the place. I was being opened up to the creation of love – that the house was created out of joy and love without being confined to a standard image of what it should or should not be. The housebuilder, I was told, built it without having any specific idea in mind, except a rough sketch of the defined areas the owner wished to have. Obviously, the owner himself trusted the builder without reservation!
It is a work of intuitive abiding and the builder himself carried his work without anticipating what came up in his way; without time and space constraint. Hence the work that I, in the beginning saw as a rundown house, suddenly transformed to beauty, in my mind. What I then saw again was no longer “wrong” but simply a magical piece of art, transformed from the act of love.
And all it takes was just a shift of perception. Did anything change out there? No. What changed was my view. Hence beauty is always in the mind, irrelevant how I define the world. What I defined is all here in me. Period.
It is a lesson of not to trust what the mind defines – and yet it is not about rejecting, pushing away or even holding on to what occurs in the mind but to be present and detached without giving any possible meaning or truth to it.