SuttaCentral

Joy and Beauty


#1

The Buddha’s teachings have plenty of references to beautiful things. The lotus rises above the mud, the thoroughbred, like a clear mountain lake etc.

The Dhamma is beautiful in the beginning, middle and, end - correct?

True beauty is a force for good, it’s wholesome. It can help to heal a weary or troubled mind. It can help in easing pain.

Beauty is not skin deep - don’t judge a book by its cover - these are wise sayings.

If you buy a car, it’s important to make sure it’s mechanically OK. It could ‘look’ shabby on the outside having seen better days.

True beauty has incredible depth to it?

A genuine perception of beauty comes from the heart. We are truly moved, transported, transformed by the beautiful?

The form-absorptions in samadhi are sometimes referred to as ‘the beautiful’.

We should become more refined, more discerning in our appreciation of the beautiful.

I think it has something to do with emotional intelligence?

I often have perceptions of the beautiful in the ordinary. It’s not glamorous, not contrived, just normal everyday life.

We can ‘perceive’ beauty in very old people, in disabled people, in beings who are struggling in difficult circumstances and, keeping some kind of beauty alive within them.

This is not a denial of physical ‘appearances’. It’s fine to appreciate a beautiful looking being. We can see what someone looks like and also see beyond the surface. We do this all the time but, there’s always more to see, the deeper we look.

I don’t see why we should be judgemental about how people choose to look but, I do see how things can get out of control. It’s a balancing act which needs a lot of careful reflection.

A peacock is a wonder of nature, a bird of paradise, a wombat, a beautiful male or female or transgender human being.

They are all beautiful in their own way. We are all beautiful in our own way.

Prose, poetry, music, craft, cooperation, living in harmony with others, peace making, forgiveness, it’s endless.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

We don’t want to miss the forest for the :evergreen_tree::evergreen_tree: :evergreen_tree: :evergreen_tree:

Trees are beautiful in many ways - as long as they don’t fall on you?

They provide shelter and oxygen, they store carbon and cool the planet. They reflect light from moving leaves, they ask for nothing and give so much.

It’s an interesting question: what is the meaning of beauty?

If we make our lives a beautiful expression of liberating wisdom and unconditional loving kindness we will then, have the answer - not before. Before then, it’s something to think about?

Our thinking can be manipulated by passing trends, advertisements, the influence of peers, religion etc. This is just a commentary on living.

There is ugliness in the beautiful and, there is beauty in ugliness.

Who can unknot the knot?

How do we transform, transmute ‘suffering’ into noble-suffering? How do we turn lead into gold - not fool’s gold?

Kalyana-mittas are the embodiment of true beauty, true love for suffering beings in samsaric wandering. It doesn’t matter what they look like?

We need to pick-up the Dhamma in the right way. It’s like picking up a dangerous snake - we don’t want to get bitten?

We don’t want to start an argument with the feeling-life - do we? Beauty is a perception - plain and simple. We don’t need to be arrested by it. We don’t have to be taken prisoner?

There’s contact between a sense-door and information arriving at the sense-door. This conditions feeling and feeling ‘can’ result in craving and, clinging.

This goes on until we find something better to do with our time. We wake up to the way it is and we no longer get ‘caught up’ in appearances.

Awakening is not a catatonic state. The Buddha’s equanimity is not catatonia - is it?

If Buddhists - including monastics - didn’t believe in the importance and value of beautiful things, why would they build ‘lovely’ Vihara’s, monasteries?

If monastics rejected beautiful things, why would they choose to eat lovely food if, there’s steamed vejjies, plain rice, beans, plain salad and fruit, a bit of raw tempeh - or such-like - available?

Why build cool/comfortable dwellings, why not live in the simplest of dwellings?

Why light incense, candles and, put flowers on shrines?

Why would they conduct beautiful and graceful ceremonial offerings or, make beautiful Buddha-rupas?

Think about the beautiful Buddhist stone carvings - rock excavations - in ancient India. They’re beautiful works of art that took a long time to create - generations.

Why do some monastics express concern about environmental vandalism - our dangerous developmental trajectory? Why not show ‘indifference’ to the obscene and ugly destruction? The defacement and trashing of the natural world.

Something doesn’t add-up in all of this - does it?

There were a lot of life-denying painful ascetic practices in the Buddha’s neighbourhood. He tried them and moved on!

The Dhamma is subtle, making for peace
Ultimate beauty is the :heartbeat:-ts sure release


#2

Please also see kanshiketsu and fart.


#3

I know about the first zen teaching, read the second and… don’t have any idea of why you posted them. Never mind - all good :blush:


#4

Because beauty is the third liberation of eight. There’s more! :joy:

They’re focused only on beauty.

This is the third liberation.

There is also this cautionary note from AN2.123:

“There are two conditions for the arising of greed.

What two?

The aspect of beauty and improper attention.

These are the two conditions for the arising of greed.”


#5

Dhamma says focus on pleasantness, and suffering will result. Pleasantness is short lasting and leads to craving. Focus on that which will allow you to let go, (tilakkhana) and peacefulness will result. Peacefulness is comparatively more sustainable. The Buddha never said sukha (happiness) was the goal of Buddhism, but happiness will result in (with other factors of the N8FP) nibbana.


#6

Nothing was said about intentionally focusing on beauty. It’s more a case of being aware of the perception of beauty and not problematising it.

I also can’t imagine how anyone could avoid having perceptions of beauty - beautiful experiences - unless they were, deeply depressed, in a coma or, in constant pain.

Yes, improper attention is the second of the two conditions I pointed out. When both conditions are not met then, you don’t have the arising of greed. This follows - logically - from the teaching you cited.

Yes, of course - this was not said or implied.

Nothing was said about focusing on pleasantness. It’s more about noticing if a perception of beauty - the beautiful - has arisen and not identifying with it or, clinging to it.

Don’t problematise it in your religious imagination and, don’t delight in it either.

If your life is completely devoid of a single moment of the beautiful, you may be in a warzone, a hell realm, a psychiatric institution, a violent and dangerous prison or, such-like?

The form-jhanas are sometimes referred to as ‘the beautiful’. Without jhana - samma-samadhi - a vital component of the eightfold path is absent.

Without this - without the beautiful - there is no possibility of liberating wisdom. This is what the Buddha taught.


#7

I have heard countless teachings from Ajahn Brahm where he describes occasions of deep appreciation, situations where he was deeply moved - even to tears. Deep gratitude to the Buddha and, the Dhamma.

He perceived the beauty of the down-syndrome people he worked with, not wanting to leave, having experienced their kindness and gratitude.

When we are sensitive and good-hearted people we are ‘prone’ to senseless beauty and random acts of kindness.

Has anyone reading this looked deeply into the night sky?

Have you ever held a child and, had a conversation with them - shared jokes - while they are sitting on your leg?

Have you ever stroked a cat or, fed an animal? Have you ever helped anyone in need? Have you ever made something useful, beneficial, done a good job at something that needed doing?

Have you ever put effort into making something as a gift?

Have you ever been ‘anywhere’ at all and, experienced something uplifting and/or inspiring, sweet, endearing, courageous or, selfless? There really is no mystery in this - IMO.

What happens - internally - when we embody goodness, when we show appreciation etc.?

How does that effect our sense of well-being? What does that do to our meditation, our life?

While being close to or, holding the :raised_hand: of someone who is dieing, we can be immersed in love and kindness - the beautiful.

“In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings.”
MN 58

It’s possible to experience great hardship, pain, difficulty, dukkha and, still find joy, beauty and, inspiration, because we are doing something worthwhile, kind and, beneficial.


#11

If we wish to be peaceful in deep natural stillness and, in daily life, we need reasons to be glad, joyful.

Peacefulness from ‘doing very little’ is not a major achievement. Children can learn how to do this - as well.

It’s a ‘good thing’ but there may be a bit more to the Dhamma than focusing on something peaceful.

When we don’t have a lot to feel happy about in our lives we may find our minds are prone to wandering. We may then exert a lot of effort just to settle down and keep ‘focused’.

We are not cameras - are we?

If the heart is joyful - immersed in the beautiful - samadhi is a natural consequence. There will be no need to focus on the breath and, bring it back if the mind wanders.

If the breath makes an appearance when stillness begins to deepen it will take effort to turn the attention elsewhere. To ‘focus’ on something else!

Without samadhi awakening is a pipe-dream - plain and simple. Never mind, we can always read about it at sutta-central?

This level of practice is preliminary, where the mind is constantly in need of focusing and, refocusing. It’s not necessary if we’re not distracted.

It’s best not to leave the practice at this preliminary stage of development. It’s easier to just pay attention and ‘learn’ in the process. Learn as we go along so we don’t need to repeat an exercise over and over again.

“Everything is teaching us!” - Ajahn Chah

The Dhamma is not just a self-help exercise in focusing on things.


#12

#13

Being glad and joyful (‘positive psychology’) is good but it won’t lead to being peaceful and especially not a deep stilling. It will lead to moments of happiness. It also requires a wilful ignorance of the pain in the world and in life that must be acknowledged and dealt with.


#14

I didn’t say anything about positive psychology or, imagining everything is hunky-dory. I am not talking about laa-laa land. It’s not about living in a dream world or, wishful thinking.

I am sure positive psychology theory has some interesting things to say. I do like the notion of positive-reinforcement that seems to help some autistic kids to get a grip!

Unfortunately, yet again, you have seen something that has not actually been said. I don’t know what this is about but it seems to be a recurrent pattern in your responses.

This makes progress in the conversation almost impossible as it makes it necessary to point this out again and again.


#15

Most monastics eat whatever is put in their alms bowl; there’s not a whole lot of choice involved.

The body though has its needs, and very plain food over an extended period can easily lead to a diminishing of appetite. Tasty foods can help stimulate an appetite sufficient to keeping the body healthy. I’m minded here of the story of Matikamata in Dhammapada 35 (though I’m not sure if this story is to be taken entirely at face value).

Perhaps out of compassion for all those living beings whose habitats are destroyed, and seeing too the bad karma being created by those who engage in such destruction.


#16

Not where I come from! The Theravada monks I visit have a smorgasbord every day of the week. After a circuit around the room or, outside the community-hall/kitchen - with the bowl - they do the rounds of tables laid out with a great variety of dishes.

I am happy that they can decide for themselves what they ‘choose’ to eat in this way - and they do - according to their own dietary preferences.

This makes good sense to me and I think it’s perfectly OK. If, they were in a remote area - and begging - then, I guess they get by as best they can. That’s also fine! :slight_smile:


#17

That’s interesting. Can I ask which country this is? Do the monks fill their own bowls?
When I replied I had the traditional alms round in mind.


#18

I don’t think they fill their own bowls. There are plenty of lay helpers. Ajahn Sumedho nick-named my communities monastery the ‘Shangrila’ of monasteries i.e. Bodhinyana in W.A. There is also a bhikkhuni monastery affiliated with the B.S.W.A. The nuns are also loved and well looked after. :heart_eyes:


#19

And can we agree that kanshiketsu and farts are also beautiful?
Because I find them so. The food I eat is nurtured by the butts of the earthworms I feed.

This experience is only one I have that helps me understand one of the oddest phrases that comes up in DN33 regarding the effort to preserve. It helps me bridge an understanding to the third liberation, the focus on beauty. It is a necessary bridge, because how else can one preserve the perception of a worm-infested corpse while focusing on beauty? Here is that sutta:

“Mendicants, when the perception of a worm-infested corpse is developed and cultivated it’s very fruitful and beneficial. …”
–sn46.58


#20

Please remember to keep posts non-personal.

Please remember to keep a focus on EBTs.

For general chatter, there are many other online forums and blogs to choose from.


#21

Just for accuracy, the food is formally offered to the monks (representative monk).
The monastics enter the dinning hall and fill their bowls with whatever they choose from the offerings. The monastics retreat upstairs, where chanting and a short talk is given for everyone. The monastics remain here to eat, while everyone else goes below for the meal. The offerings tend to be plentiful and diverse as the monastery is so well supported by so many. This side of things is in the hands of the lay supporters and the Anagarikas working in the kitchen. The one aspect that is continually practiced, and which I find so ‘grounding’ is that lay supporters all line up to offer rice to each monastic, so that the act of individual giving and receiving remains in place, even when the scale of support makes certain aspects organisationally challenging. :anjal::dharmawheel:

https://www.google.com/search?q=rice+offering+at+bodhinyana&rlz=1C1CHBH_en-GBAU706AU706&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=mUsTRCZZJPOJpM%3A%2CI60VoaMkzYJZqM%2C_&usg=AI4_-kQo0yM9BnLaWNxg__vwn-M39sW2hg&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjD6snJ0ZHgAhWTfysKHVFpDzsQ9QEwB3oECAAQDA#imgrc=mUsTRCZZJPOJpM:


#22

With regard to every day experience, painful, pleasant and, neutral feelings - they arise and cease. There’s no point in ignoring anything that comes and goes.

“Do everything with a mind that lets go. Don’t accept praise or gain or anything else. If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.” - Ajahn Chah

Wholesome beautiful experiences are very helpful because they bring joy to the heart. This helps us to be happy in our daily life. Happiness is not a problem. When we are not happy with what’s going on we may lose our equilibrium - our ability to cope.

Happiness is not the same as pleasant feelings. Pleasure and happiness are two different things. Happiness does not mean we are smiling all the time. This is a superficial understanding of true happiness.

People can find themselves in very difficult situations, they may be in danger of losing their lives, they may be experiencing many unpleasant feelings but, they may also be aware of the fact that what they are doing is for the good.

They are not unhappy with their lives even if they experience pain, hardship or, death.

This is a beautiful fact of life, not seperate from life, not somewhere else.

Beauty manifests in a variety of ways - IMO.

We have not arrived at a perception of beauty if we get ‘caught-up’ in any kind of ‘appearance’.

This includes the ‘attractive’ and the ugly, this includes the pleasant and the unpleasant.

This does not mean the ugly is attractive or, the attractive is ugly. When we find something - or someone - attractive, we can also find the undesirable and, vice versa.

We live in an imperfect world that doesn’t last. The attractive becomes unattractive and, the ugly can also be valuable, desirable in different ways.

There is monastic suffering and there’s lay-suffering. We need to be good gardeners and make good use of life’s dung-heap - that’s all.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! It’s a perception - plain and simple.

Attractive and ugly are forms of perception that come and go. We can watch them come and go without getting caught-up in them.

When we do get caught-up in them we are taken prisoner - by perception/perceptions. All perceptions are not-self, not mine, they are not who I am. They are just part of life as it changes.

If we spend our time obsessing about the ugly, the painful, the dissatisfaction then, we won’t be available - aware of - give appropriate attention to, life, and living.

We don’t need to condemn one and embrace the other, that’s not bare awareness.

That’s adopting a philosophy, an ideology and, interpreting every lived experience, every happening, through the medium of that perceptual-filter.

This is how brains get hijacked?

There’s no problem with having one’s brain hijacked as long as there’s awareness of the fact. There’s nothing wrong with entertaining ideas, as long as this is ‘seen’ for what it is?

We need to keep our eye on the ball - IMO. We actually have to ‘live’ our lives and learn from them but, don’t take my word - or anybody else’s - word for it! We need to find out for ourselves through living.


#23

@Laurence Perhaps you could assemble your opinions together into an essay, and post it in that Forum category. Otherwise, a personal exposition on a subject, without reference to specific EBT’s, doesn’t really fit into the purpose or categories within the forum.
:anjal::dharmawheel: