What is beauty?

I always thought beauty was something to do with ideal forms created by some kind of laws – like symmetry, golden ratio (1:1.618), or from the principles of art: movement, unity, harmony, variety, balance, rhythm, emphasis, contrast, proportion, and pattern.
But the qualities above implied that beauty can be only felt in a gradient or hierarchical scale. In other words, the highest perception of beauty is dependent upon the objects/perceptions fulfilling those qualities which are rare in nature. But as I implored and probed the thought further, I felt beauty was a perception transcendent of even the qualities I mentioned above.
In a sense, even all those qualities I described above is a sort of deep cultural conditioning. Reading about different cultures and their perceptions of beauty really opened my mind up to the relativity of what we call beauty. For example ladies from a tribe in Thailand would wear rings on their neck to elongate it and the lady with the longest neck was considered most beautiful. There are umpteen such strange practices such as foot binding to make the feet small, tongue and body piercings, scars etc. which were done to in an effort to be more beautiful. We may dismiss such phenomenon as outliers but actually they are not. Even within the western culture there are so many different perceptions on what is considered beautiful. What is beauty then?

Are even the most abstract art principles we uphold a sort of deeper cultural belief based prison?

Then I probed into this further and then suddenly this epiphany hit me that “Seeing reality and things as they are, in their full openness and vulnerability is what is truly beautiful”. Vulnerability generally has a negative connotation. So I could use the word ‘Openness, tenderness, gentleness’. Now we are looking at the world through the goggles of our perceptual lens. So the first step is allowing your lens to be as it is in its full psychic openness and effortlessness with 0 resistance. Then allowing all of the perceived contents through this lens be seen with the same 100% allowing, effortless, tenderness, gentleness and full openness with 0 avoidance, 0 resistance and fearlessness. And finally just staying with this whole screen of experience and completely letting it be as it is in its true nature with no effort to distort or control what is perceived. Immediately there is a sense of free falling, effortlessness, vulnerability and a sense of beauty rushes through. It involves a profound act of letting go of the moment completely and simply staying with bare effortless observation.

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