Monday, May 13, 2019

BEAUTY


Beauty arises from the spirit realm! Beauty is the essence of life. It should always come before utility. We humans have reversed the natural order. This is especially true of those whose close ancestors had a puritanical background. Utility should always support beauty because beauty lifts us to the divine. The opposite is a travesty of nature.  Artists, unless they are operating in support of utility, which is the realm of money, hold little respect or understanding from mainstream society, which is motivated by money, its acquisition and exchange abilities. Beauty is regarded as an indulgence, a candy rewarded for a good trick, or even as an undeserved treat.

This is a strange distortion of the natural order.  One cannot eat money, make it beautiful or shelter under it. This is even more true in the digital age. Now, money passes from place to plate without being seen.  It is just an abstract number in the cloud.  My husband is old school and likes to carry physical bills in his pocket. He does not feel money unless he can hold it physically.  Of course, wealth has gradually become more abstract over the millennia. It was once, cattle, sheep and edible fruits and grains. Then it became gold and silver coins, or jewelry made of the same with the addition of precious stones. However, these still came from the earth and were valued as gifts from our life source, Mother Earth.

I used to take a bus to and from work in downtown Denver. I was not happy in my job although it was the only job in my work history that met all my expenses. There is a key to concealed slavery in that statement. Because my energy was drained at the end of the day, I would get off the bus at the first stop alongside Denver’s City Park.  I would then walk the last mile toward home across the park beneath the blue sky with the delicious moist softness of green grass beneath my aching feet. It gave me plenty of time to watch the free wildlife in the park, squirrels scampering about and birds flying from tree to tree, or the ducks and geese noisily waddling to and from the lake. There were also a few cottontail rabbits moving silently and almost invisibly among the bushes. The incarcerated animals lived in the large zoo to the left. I would sometimes howl at the wolves or make other animal sounds in the few animal languages I knew, to send sympathy to fellow prisoners and would often get replies, perhaps about our common situation.
Rio Grande Angel balancing high and low.
 


My external circumstance seemed different, but not really. Although they lived in cages and pens and I lived in a house and appeared to be free to come and go, it wasn’t genuine freedom. I had to buy my food and shelter and to buy it, I had to work at a job that I didn’t like nor ethically approve of that in addition wore my energy too thin to effectively practice the things I genuinely valued.  This wasn’t true of all my fellow workers at the company. Many were ambitious young people who felt privileged to make enough money to have a large house, a high-end automobile, a boat, and plenty of toys to take on vacation. And of course, vacation could be a trip to another continent.  But a chain is a chain whether it’s made of lead or gold and both are heavy. When the price of oil dropped drastically, many of them lost their jobs and the golden chains fell off.  Unfortunately, that didn’t mean they were free of the ‘system’. Their 4.0 grades in university gave them their competitive edge in the rat race, but it didn’t prepare them for the sudden drop in lifestyle.  Many never recovered.  It was a bitter lesson about the invisible puppeteer behind the stage.

Perhaps, the magnetic power of the word, “free” so seductively used in advertisements, is not exclusively a lure to the greedy. Perhaps, it is also a magnetic hope that appeals to our wild self and suggests an uplifting remedy for relentless demands.  Are we like mules who yearn to graze in a live green pasture in the evening after the harness is removed? Freedom is dished out in small increments, an oxymoron for sure. Human mules are often so programmed by their relentless invisible drivers that they are unable to adapt to freedom.

I wonder if the tremendous desire to acquire things, especially expensive things, is propelled by the lack of genuine beauty and satisfaction in a life driven by the need to make as much money as possible.  What is the reward for giving one’s life over to the race to the top or is is there only an empty promise like the proverbial carrot on a stick, tempting the donkey to work endlessly for a reward it will never reach.

The only enslaved animals are the ones enslaved by humans who are themselves enslaved to a system of their own invention or at least participation. If we remembered beauty it would all change. Utility should support real beauty rather than the sham of beauty, a kind of plastic knock-off that we accept as the best we deserve. Nature is a perfect guide, yet we are trying to drain her of all her magic instead of accepting her power as our own birthright and beauty as her essence.

The Navajo Nation considers beauty the source of goodness, power and knowledge. Of course, this isn’t mere prettiness which is beauty light, nor glamour. Both are the lure of confused hunger for relief and a pleasant stimulation brought on as respite for an abused soul.  

The Navajo/Diné traditional prayer is called “The Beauty Way” in Diné—the Navajo name for their nation—Here it is translated into English, and in Diné

In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
Hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shideigi hózhóogo naasháa doo
T’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa doo
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’

On her website Marti Beddow shares this description of Hózhó the beauty way, written by Jen Wolfe on October 19, 2014 in Southwest Legends:
    "Since large chunks of Arizona and New Mexico, and part of Utah, make up the Navajo Nation (the Reservation or the Rez), the Native American presence is strong in the Southwest. Perhaps the most important word and concept in the belief system of the Navajo people is hózhó. Unfortunately, it is not a word that translates well into modern English. Simply put, however, it means to be in balance and beauty with the world. It is about health, long life, happiness, wisdom, knowledge, harmony, with both the mundane and the divine. It means a traditional Navajo person is continually restoring, finding, and practicing balance in his or her daily life.
     The Navajo believe that when a person no longer in harmony with the world, they fall ill or begin to act like the biligana (the white man or one who struggles). A ceremony called the Blessing Way will rid the Navajo of the evil wind that has taken over them and return them to hózhó. The ritual is lengthy (several days or more) and requires an hataali (medicine man or shaman) who is able to remember all the songs and sand paintings required to complete the ritual. The ritual itself tells the story of the Navajo as they came forth from the third world and what their guardian spirits taught them about living in the fourth world. It is designed to attract the power of the holy people. In short, if completed correctly, it will reconnect the Navajo individual with their past, their heritage and the beauty all around them.
 The concept of hózhó sounds simple, but it isn’t. For instance, while other Native American tribes pray for rain during a drought, the Navajo hold ceremonies to put them in balance and harmony with the drought.
This morning I leaned over to pick something up on the ground and had a sudden spasm in my back. This is always a sure sign that I’m under some kind of stress that hasn’t been resolved. Then when PQ woke up this morning (very late, I may add) he had a very bad cold and could hardly speak. After this I recognized that I was negligent of an important principle—harmony with life.  We have been very busy this past three weeks and had some wonderful meetings with new and old friends. In addition, PQ has been more successful with his art.  All this was more than welcome but we also had some bad news in the form of an expensive decision concerning our automobile.  It is the first new car I ever owned, and although it has over 170,000 miles and 10 years on it, I still see it as my new car. How time flies when you don’t pay attention. We must decide whether to have some very expensive repairs done, or trade it in for a new vehicle.  Either of these options will create a major economic challenge despite recent success.  Thus, the back spasm.

Then I remembered beauty and faith. Our life has never worked by plan but by the natural rhythm of the spiritual matrix of life. The interplay between positive and negative forces are the foundation of knowledge based on experience and the natural world. A dark background makes a dramatic contrast for beauty.  Believing in beauty as the nature of balance illuminates imbalance. I walked outside this morning with Shadow our cat, looked at the wonderful products of spring, the splendid clarity of the Taos sky and realized there is only now and faith in the constantly dynamic beauty of creation in process.

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