A Definition of Beauty

Today, I want to do something a little different.   I want to bring someone else into the Spiritual Comment.  I am not the only spiritual teacher out there and I certainly don’t say I am the most learned.  One of my favourite spiritual teachers is the late Khalil Gibran and I wanted to share with  you a passage from his book ‘The Prophet Collection’.  If you are not familiar with this book, it is the story of a prophet who is preparing to leave the town of Orphalese.  Now this town will be mentioned in the extract, so just be aware of this.

But first –

In today’s society, we are bombarded with images of perceived perfect beauty. Just yesterday, I saw a news story about a Lass in the UK who has won a competition for having the most scientifically  measured beauty in Great Britain.

So I got to thinking, what is beauty and why is it that some people can look beautiful on the outside and yet when they speak, they become ugly, while others do not possess obvious good looks, yet when they speak, they light up the room with beauty.

I think Khalil Gibran sums it up beautifully in this extract….

“And a poet said, ‘Speak to us of Beauty.’

And he answered:

‘Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?

And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

Image thanks to neiu.edu

The aggrieved and the injured say, ‘Beauty is kind and gentle.  Like a young mother, half-shy of her own glory, she walks among us.’

And the passionate say, ‘Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.  Like the tempest she shakes the Earth beneath us and the sky above us’

The tired and the weary say, ‘Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.  Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.’

But the restless say, ‘We have heard her shouting among the mountains, and with her cries came the sound of hoofs and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.’

At night the watchmen of the city say, ‘Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the East.’

And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say, ‘We have seen her leaning over the Earth from the windows of the sunset.’

In winter say the snow-bound, ‘She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.’

And in the summer heat the reapers say, ‘We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair’

All these things have you said of beauty,

Yet in truth you spoke not of her, but of needs unsatisfied.

And beauty is not a need, but and ecstasy.  It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretching forth,

But rather a heart inflamed and a soul enchanted.  It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,

But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.

It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,

But rather a garden forever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People of Orphalese, beauty is life, when life unveils her holy face.

But YOU are LIFE and YOU are the VEIL.

Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.

But YOU are ETERNITY and YOU are the MIRROR.

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2 comments on “A Definition of Beauty

  1. Pingback: We Have to Really Look for Beauty « Dr. Sherry E. Showalter – "Keepin It Real"

  2. Gorgeous. I am looking at my Kahlil Gibran book now sitting snug on it’s shelf. I read this passage about a year back feel I should now bring the book back out. Thank you, Cat.

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