As I was riding my bicycle on my way to class, I had to stop at a traffic light. There were about seven people waiting for the green light and all of them were lost in some activity: three of them were talking on the phone, two of them were sending messages or something, and two of them were completely lost in their thinking. One of the people had a kid on his shoulders, and this kid was the only one who was there, who was ‘alive’. We looked at each other, had a moment of contact, smiled, and then the light turned green and we all went on our way.
Our minds are lost most of the time in what I call the ‘material’ mind. This mind is based on the emotions of worry and fear, lack and emptiness.
Worry and fear are based on our inner sense of insecurity, and so when these emotions appear, which is most of the time, thoughts about how to be more secure fill our minds and we get very busy doing things, planning, working, projecting, trying to figure out ways to satisfy that desperate need for security.
In the few moments of our lives when the mind is not completely lost in fears and worries, those rare moments when we feel slightly more secure (in western societies that is actually not so rare, most people feel, to a certain extent, safe and secure, but that is not the case in other societies) the emotions of lack and emptiness show their face and so we spend our time looking for some ways to cover them. When we feel slightly more secure we have the time and space to look at ourselves, to experience ourselves, and what we generally find is a void, the sense that ‘we need something’. We may not know what, but we feel this ‘abyss’ in our hearts that pushes us to do things to fill that void. The famous ‘walks to the fridge to see what I can eat’, the need for a cigarette, a lot of our need for sex, for relationships, for traveling, for new experiences, for parties, for fun, are often nothing but ways to try to cover or fill that void.
And so, the material mind is either generating thoughts of security – taking care of the emotions of worry and fear – or trying to find some sense of pleasure – taking care of the emotions of lack and emptiness – and we spend the majority of our time and energy trying to satisfy either of these emotions. We could even say that for the majority of people life IS the search for security and pleasure.
But there is also another mind, that we can call the ‘non-material mind’. It is a completely different from the material mind.
We can divide it into three different parts:
- The psychological mind (nothing to do with psychology as it is often understood), which is the mind that allow us – that has a need – to get more in contact with ourselves, with other people and with the world. It is the mind that is able to move beyond its own needs for security and pleasure and to open up into the larger world of life.
- The emotional mind, which is the mind that can experience emotions like compassion and love. It is able to sense other people, not because it needs them, but because it genuinely cares for them. The material mind is interested in other people because it can get something out of them; it is a very needy mind and so it looks at people as objects and is attracted to the ones that it believes can give it some security or pleasure and, on the other hand, rejects, or is simply indifferent to the ones that cannot. The emotional mind has a sense of communion with other people, it cares for them, it is aware of the innate sense of empathy we all have, which the material mind can’t perceive because it is hidden behind an ‘armor’, behind the feeling of seriousness and importance.
- The spiritual mind is the mind that has space to ask questions like: What is life? What is the meaning of life? Who am I? It is the mind that intuitively knows that there must be something more than what can be seen with the naked eye; it is the mind that knows that security and pleasure and family and job and profession, as important as they may be, are far from being the meaning of life. It knows that there is something else, and it values the search for it.
For this non-material mind to appear, for either the psychological, the emotional or the spiritual mind to appear, we need to somehow create a space from the material mind. There are many ways, many tools that could be used for this. The most powerful and direct and definite way is the realization that those emotions that characterize the material mind – fear, worry, lack and emptiness – are not real emotions because they do not belong to the being that I really am. But this realization, we could say, is the end of a long journey. Before arriving there, we need some other tools that can give us a taste of the non-material mind because from the point of view of the material mind – where we spend most of our time – fear, worry, lack and emptiness are very VERY real emotions. And as long as we completely believe they are real, the non-material mind has no space to appear.
The most traditional tools to move from the material to the non-material mind are meditation, chanting of sacred mantras, prayer, rituals, breathing exercises, some very particular kind of movements, the use of some specific drugs, and others.
But there is also another less known tool, which does not necessarily replace any of the other ones, but that is also very effective and, for many people, it can be more easily used and accessed.
This is the tool of beauty.
Everything that we see has a certain vibration of energy (vibration of energy is just a simple way of calling it). The non-material mind has a very similar frequency of energy to beauty and so when we experience beauty, when we see beauty, when we are surrounded by beauty we have more possibilities to connect to the non-material mind. It is like, let’s say, preparing the ground. It does not mean that the non-material mind will germinate (we can be surrounded by beauty and be completely lost in the material mind), but when there is beauty there are more possibilities – the ground is more fertile – for the non-material mind to sprout.
Beauty can come in the form of nature, if that is available, or in the form of some specific art. And here is where I find this tool is so amazing for our time and age because art is so easily accessible to everybody that looks for it. For example, I am still amazed by how much of the best of the best of classical music can be found on YouTube. All these amazing composers, interpreted by these amazing musicians, directed by these amazing conductors are just a few clicks away.
It is true that because it is so available it can also be very easily diluted and unappreciated, but the possibility to use it is right there.
And so, if we value a non-material mind we can use this tool of beauty as a way to help access it in our everyday life; we can use beauty as a way to have moments or touches of the psychological, emotional or spiritual mind in the midst of our everyday life.
When this happens, when the non-material mind opens up, life becomes colorful and full and meaningful. When we are lost in our material mind, which means the practicalities of life, we may be very busy and engaged and involved, but also, if we are aware enough, we will have a sense of banality and superficiality and purposelessness. Of course we have to take care of our practicalities, we need to provide security for ourselves and our loved ones, but if we dedicate the WHOLE of our lives to practicalities without paying attention to the non-material mind, our life is wasted. It is only when the psychological, emotional and/or spiritual mind appear in our lives that life has meaning and purpose; it’s only then when things become really alive.
Beauty can become a wonderful tool for the non-material mind, for presence. But, like any tool, it needs some preparation to be able to use it correctly. To understand more how to use this tool, please take a look at the blog called: ‘5’ meditations’ here. It is a work in progress, but already there are some things that will make this tool more clear.
Basically the tool of beauty is a way to help open ourselves up to the non-material aspects of life, to a world where what is important is not so much ‘me and my needs’ but a sense of interconnectedness with all that is.
Which means that the tool of beauty is NOT really about beauty, but about truth.
I live you now with an example of this beauty: