Today’s topic is one that I have to confess is not my forte perhaps. The title is ‘O God Beautiful’ that I can relate to but we are going to talk about beauty and expressing beauty. Something I can say is since I got married, people who know me started to say “Ah Bara! Now that you are married, suddenly you are dressing better and more brightly”.
I don’t know how many men can relate to this, but it is true. After all, many of you know I lived for six years in a monastery. You know when all men get together sometimes things, outwardly speaking, may not be kept as nicely as they would otherwise.
Why Express beauty outwardly in our physical environment
Is it really even important to learn to express beauty in an outward way? Of course we all know that from the inside we should always express beauty – but is it important to be surrounded by beauty? Is it important to have a beautiful place to come to for satsang? If there were no flowers, the altar was dirty, or if the pictures perhaps were a little dirty, would it be the same?
Well as Yogis we tend to believe it doesn’t really matter. All of this is Maya, what does it matter? But then, we realize when we come to the temple, it is just so uplifting that you think of God right away. It is easier for you to go into meditation here, than if you were outside on the roadside, with all the cars passing by or in a dump yard or anything like that. Yes in theory all these things “don’t matter” but we know that they do matter quite a bit.
In Beauty we see God reflected
It is very interesting but it seems that beauty is very important because in beauty we can really see God reflected more perfectly. Master would often talk of how God reflected His beauty in flowers, particularly in the Rose. It is important because when we are in a beautiful place we really feel that consciousness of the Divine is more easily reflected.
And when we see bad things, when we see people that are unkind or let’s face it in some way also in big cities itself, it is harder to see the beauty of God there perhaps. That is also important because it reminds us that this is not our real home, it reminds us that there is something awaiting us. That if everything in this world was perfect, if everything was roses, we would not have the incentive to find God. So both of them have their place, certainly.
Beauty expressed with simplicity
We as devotees look at Yogananda and at Swamiji and they both expressed beauty in every single way. I cannot say that I know anything that Swamiji did or possessed that was not beautiful in one way or the other and yet his kind of beauty was very simple. Beauty even in the outward way should be expressed with that simplicity in mind that it should be a reflection of who we are.
There is a story that is always amusing. There was this farmer and a priest came to visit him. This man had worked very hard in his life to raise his family, to create his house and cultivate his field. He worked very, very hard and you know the priest being a man of God commented “what a beautiful, big field you and God have cultivated together”. At this the man remembering the hard work it took, replied “Oh yes Father but you should have seen it when God had it all for himself”.
Both of them were, of course, right – the priest was right, everything is God. Everything that we express as we were saying, any goodness that we express, any love that we express, any kindness that we express, we cannot express it ourselves. It is because we are attuning ourselves to some divine flow and that divine flow comes through us in an act of kindness, in an act of love, in some inspiration. There is no other way. We are always expressing God in the highest, when we are expressing our higher Self.
But the man also was right “you should have seen it when God had it all by himself”. When our own will, when our own energy is not cooperating with the Divine, the Divine is not just going to create miracles like that. We have to put our energy, put our enthusiasm and help Him manifest everything in this world though we know that the material world is not the highest. It is to help us to go deeper within ourselves. What we really want to do as devotees is develop that kind of inner beauty.
Each one expresses God’s beauty uniquely
I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel to many different Ananda communities but particularly this one, Ananda Village in California is special. You all probably know about it but that is a place where people have been meditating for 50 years. Not every single person but many of the people there- they all have been doing this day after day for many years: meditating and attuning themselves to Yogananda, to Swamiji and to the Gurus.
The wonderful thing is that they are all beautiful but they’re all very unique in the beauty that they express. It is that when we are able to get ourselves out of the way, when we are able to get the ego out of the way, all our desires or all our likes and dislikes that do not make us who we truly are, then we are able to express our true beauty. For me, it was so amazing to see that here are all these people trying to express the same thing and yet they do it so differently and yet so beautifully.
Beauty is everywhere
One thing that the spiritual path has taught me is that there is beauty really everywhere. I remember when I was in high school, I was brought up till I was 14 in Uruguay. It’s a small country in South America and things there are a little rough and the jump from school to high school is so dramatic.
Because when we were in school we were all quite innocent really and then the next year you go to high school and all of a sudden there’s all these new things that you need to learn. The class is unruly, it is chaotic. And for some reason the people who were the most chaotic – they liked me. I was a very good boy- but they liked me. I don’t know why – and then I would find myself spending time with them.
Even though many of them smoked and did “not such high things”, still I could see even in them some quality that would shine. For example, many of them would express tremendous loyalty and isn’t loyalty something we all aspire to? Maybe even just perhaps to their own friends, but to a degree of kindness and loyalty that I would not see in people who were “good”. And so it is that we have to learn to see that beauty that is in each one of us, because remember whatever we see in others is just a reflection of us. As Anandmoyi Ma told Swami Kriyananda “it takes beauty to see beauty”.
Beauty sees beauty
Whatever you see in others is because you have it yourself. So try to see the positive aspects in everyone because by doing that you’ll help them and will also imbibe it in yourself more and more. I will conclude by saying it is very easy to see these great Gurus and think Yogananda did it this way, so I’ll do it this way, Swami Kriyananda liked this, so I will also like that. There is some truth to that and some sentiment to that, it can help you.
But the best way that we have seen to express the beauty of the Great Masters is not to imitate them so much like that, but to become them, to let them be inside of you. We don’t want to express Yogananda outwardly so much perhaps, than we want to become Yogananda.
There is the saying that goes “So live as if God Himself needed of you His life to live, for in truth He does”. Meaning we should live our lives as if Yogananda, as if the great masters really needed us to live their life, not our life. That we had to have them within us and then all kinds of beauty will express but they will express in our own unique way. And they will always express themselves from our higher Self.
This is an excerpt of a talk given by Baraquiel Castelli. You can watch the talk here