I invite you to notice yourself noticing beauty. The result of doing so can be liberating.
Permit me to suggest a few examples and then draw your attention to an important commonality among them.
Nature is full of stunning spectacles. Doesn’t everyone understand that there is nothing more mentally refreshing than breaking beyond the bounds of our human world?
Have you spent any time at all paying attention to the beauty of recent sunrises or sunsets? (If not, why not?)
The magnificent scenery in mountain ranges is stunning. Remember, too, noticing beauty in stark deserts.
I have always loved watching the wind play in the leaves of trees, and I’m fortunate to have a cottonwood tree in front of my cottage next to the lakeshore. I can, and do, spend hours watching that spectacle.
Have you ever become absorbed just watching what a breeze does to blades of grass?
Most months of the year, I am treated to the beauty of diamonds dancing each sunny morning on the surface of a lake.
Are you open to noticing beauty in unusual places? Just try to imagine, for example, all the beauty that was missed by all humans — less lucky than we — who lived before the age of microscopes and telescopes!
Though we often rush past them, it’s difficult to miss the beauty of finished wood in furniture or cabinets or the beautiful shapes of interesting buildings.
What about favorite melodies from your favorite composers?
Aren’t we all captivated by beautiful human forms? Whether in sculptures or in the flesh, don’t we tend to stare with thoughtless amazement?
I recall with a smile how I had to learn as a teenager to protect myself from beautiful female forms. Females are typically at their peak of physical beauty around the age of 16 (according to the Buddha) or 18 (according to me). I’m not here referring to lust. I’m talking about protecting myself from thoughtless idiocy!
After all, when I was that age myself, on school days I had to interact with many such fair specimens. Simply gaping in silent awe would have given away too much power. I learned, and so did at least some of my peers, how to find some flaw or other as a point to steady and reclaim our identities. There was always something — less than beautiful toes or knees, perhaps, or too thin upper arms, or even just a less than wholly pleasing voice.
Poets and other artists, of course, know all about noticing beauty.
If I’ve helped you to recall your own experiences noticing beauty, please ask: “What do they all have in common?”
Noticing beauty always involves alert, thoughtless awareness.
That is what, as a teenager, I thought I had to protect myself from. I was temporarily unable to sustain my own identity even when confronted momentarily by beauty.
The identity that I was protecting was only one that I had created from my own thoughts. It was, in other words, my ego, the story or narrative that separates me from everyone else.
That’s nothing like my real identity.
Like yours, my real identity is thoughtless!
Instead of resisting those experiences of alert, thoughtless awareness, I wish I had been more open to them. Yes, of course, my thoughts are part of me, but they are, I realize now, only a very small part compared to the vast spaciousness beyond thought.
Noticing beauty is an opening to No-Thought.
Please, be open to it. Whenever you notice yourself noticing beauty, allow that experience rather than resisting it like a foolish teenager.
Who you are is beautiful! Instead of being separate from beauty itself, you are part of it. That itself is a stunning realization.
When you allow beauty to suspend thinking, even for a moment, that is realizing your True-Self (Buddha-Nature).
Please test for yourself whether or not Emerson’s claim that “beauty is never quite absent from our eyes” is true.
Wouldn’t you like to live wisely (live well, live as a sage)?
Practice allowing No-Thought to mediate experience; practice not allowing Thought to mediate experience.
You don’t have to do, gain, or accomplish anything. It’s simply a matter of dropping all your defenses.
It’s ironic: instead of protecting yourself, all you are doing is preventing yourself from realizing your true nature.
[I credit the works of Eckhart Tolle for helping me to clarify my understanding of noticing beauty.]