Thursday, May 10, 2012

Celestial beauty

I shared a quote on Facebook by Garrison Keillor recently that sparked some interesting conversation.

"Beauty isn't worth thinking about; what's important is your mind. You don't want a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head."

One individual spoke out in support of Mr. Keillor's remarks thusly, "...there is a lot of freedom when you loosen up your visual standards. By being less concerned with looks—there's a world of people and qualities that you get to embrace. It's wonderful not being so limited. I can't help when I'm not attracted, but I enjoy having a smart confident man change my initial view of him because he is so awesome."

Another brought up a point in favor of aesthetics by saying, "When you wake up to a face every day it's nice to generally like what you see. (yours or someone else)."

I couldn't help but think of the Jack Black movie "Shallow Hal" when I read these comments. If you haven't seen it, Black's character—a pudgy, nihilistic, narcissistic and superficial individual—is hypnotized into being able to see people's inner beauty (that of both men and women) and he falls in love with a morbidly obese woman played by Gwyneth Paltrow (as her svelte self when in the presence of Jack Black and with prosthetics and/or a heavy-set body double when viewed by others). The inner beauty of others is interpreted by Black's character as aesthetic beauty but we discover through the course of the story that it works both ways. People who are otherwise physically attractive but have ugly personalities appear to Black as physically repulsive.

I love the message of that film. That it's important to seek out an individual's inner beauty before anything else.

I know from personal experience that seeing someone's inner beauty—or inner ugliness—has a genuine effect on how they appear to someone. A pretty face can only take one so far in a relationship, a beautiful soul has the potential to take one into eternity.

I like to think of inner beauty in terms of the degrees of glory: Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial. I'm trying to find celestial beauty in a partner. The challenge is that Celestial beauty can't be seen with Telestial or worldly eyes. We need to put forth the effort to see someone spiritually and the only way to do that effectively is to love them unconditionally. To love someone, is to be one with them. To be one with someone, is to know them and see them as they really are. If we get so hung up on Telestial standards of beauty that we don't allow ourselves to love someone despite their outward appearance, then we can't know them for who they really are, regardless of what degree of inner beauty they may possess, which may say something about our own inner beauty.

Love someone unconditionally and you will see—with purer eyes—whether they have Celestial qualities or not. Make the choice not to love someone that way and you won't. Making that choice to love unconditionally is the key. Unconditional love is—itself—a Celestial quality. If one is incapable of it, then one may be limiting themselves not only to a lesser degree of love in their life but to a lesser degree of glory in the hereafter.

I don't think a Celestial relationship can be built on a sandy foundation of superficial aesthetic standards. We need to find the bedrock of Celestial qualities to build on. And what should a couple build? Zion in their relationship—being of one heart and one mind and it all starts with unconditional love (heart) and honesty (mind).