Monday, July 8, 2013

52 weeks of art journaling: week 23

This week's prompt: Beauty

What makes something or someone beautiful to you? What makes an experience beautiful?

A few years back (about 6 years as I write this), I traveled to India (the northern part) and visited Sarnath, just outside of Varanasi, the location where the Buddha is said to have given his first sermon. This leg of my journey was a complex juxtaposition of beauty and degradation for me. It was the place on my journey where I found the most spiritual peace and also the most discomfort. And the ruins at Sarnath were no different in their expression of high and low contemplation.

And yet, in Sarnath I found one of my most profound moments of inner beauty in a small moment. In the gardens at Sarnath I saw my first lotus flower (real one, growing naturally, in water, right in front of me). The water was murky and full of pond scum. When I pulled out my camera to document the moment and the flower, I found that my camera batteries had died. So instead, that moment remains forever locked in my memory, a mental snapshot that may or may not be accurate of what was really there, and yet, all the more beautiful and memorable in it's impermanence. Something about the location, the moment and timing of those dead batteries felt so perfect to me. A lesson from Buddha himself, a lesson from the journey or universe, if you will.

Instead of holding on, I had to let go.

I don't know about the rest of you out there, but those moments of profound, yet simple awakening, are beautiful to me. No, not in the conventional sense of beauty in a painting or person, but in a spiritual sense. And ironically, I have always found that they come out of moments of muck (like the muck from which the lotus flower grows). Beauty is quoted as being "in the eye of the beholder" and spiritually speaking, I think that nothing could be truer. To someone else, my dead battery moment would just be an inconvenience, but for me, it was an epiphany. And it's moments like that, that remind me of the intricate and simple beauty of the universe around us, the gods/goddesses, and the sacredness of the spiritual experience.

I wish many such personal moments of beauty upon you (and myself...)!


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