Can a shallow mind appreciate beauty? (JIDDU KRISNAMURHTI)

Can a shallow mind appreciate beauty? (JIDDU KRISNAMURHTI)

One invariably asks oneself what is beauty. Now, what is beauty?

Cleanliness, tidiness of dress, a smile, a graceful gesture, the rhythm of walking, a flower in your hair, good manners, clarity of speech, thoughtfulness, being considerate of others, which includes punctuality – all this is part of beauty; but it is only on the surface, is it not? And is that all there is to beauty, or is there something much deeper?

There is beauty of form, beauty of design, beauty of life. Have you observed the lovely shape of a tree when it is in full foliage, or the extraordinary delicacy of a tree naked against the sky? Such things are beautiful to behold, but they are all the superficial expressions of something much deeper. So what is it that we call beauty?

You may have a beautiful face, clean-cut features, you may dress with good taste and have polished manners, you may paint well or write about the beauty of the landscape, but without this inward sense of goodness all the external appurtenances lead to a very superficial, sophisticated life, life without much significance.

So we must find out what beauty really is, must we not? Mind you, I am not saying that we should avoid the outward expressions of beauty. We must all have good manners, we must be physically clean and dress tastefully, without ostentation, we must be punctual, clear in our speech, and all the rest of it. These things are necessary and they create a pleasant atmosphere; but by themselves they have not much significance.

It is inward beauty that gives grace, an exquisite gentleness to outward form and movement. And what is this inward beauty without which one’s life is very shallow? Have you ever thought about it? Probably not. You are too busy, your minds are too occupied with study, with play, with talking, laughing and teasing each other. But to help you to discover what is inward beauty, without which outward form and movement have very little meaning, is one of the functions of right education; and the deep appreciation of beauty is an essential part of your own life.

Can a shallow mind appreciate beauty? It may talk about beauty; but can it experience this welling up of immense joy upon looking at something that is really lovely? When the mind is merely concerned with itself and its own activities, it is not beautiful; whatever it does, it remains ugly, limited, therefore it is incapable of knowing what beauty is. Whereas, a mind that is not concerned with itself, that is free of ambition, a mind that not caught up in its own desires or driven by its own pursuit of success – such a mind is not shallow, and it flowers in goodness. Do you understand? It is this inward goodness that gives beauty even to a so-called ugly face. When there is inward goodness the ugly face is transformed, for inward goodness is really a deeply religious feeling.

Do you know what it is to be religious? It has nothing to do with temple bells, though they sound nice in the distance, nor with pujas, nor with the ceremonies of the priests and all the rest of the ritualistic nonsense.

To be religious is to be sensitive to reality. Your total being – body, mind and heart – is sensitive to beauty and to ugliness, to the donkey tied to a post, to the poverty and filth in this town, to laughter and tears, to everything about you. From this sensitivity for the whole of existence springs goodness, love; and without this sensitivity there is no beauty, though you may have talent, be very well dressed, ride in an expensive car and be scrupulously clean.

Love is something extraordinary, is it not? You cannot love if you are thinking about yourself – which does not mean that you must think about somebody else. Love is, it has no object. The mind that loves is really a religious mind because it is in the movement of reality, of truth, of God, and it is only such a mind that can know what beauty is. The mind that is not caught in any philosophy, that is not enclosed in any system or belief, that is not driven by its own ambition and is therefore sensitive, alert, watchful – such a mind has beauty.









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