Should Yogis Enjoy Beauty?

Photo: Thanks to Farsai Chaikulngamdee on Unsplash!

I stumbled across this while browsing in the Ananda Library and felt it would be of sufficient interest to warrant my (once again) interrupting my promise of further music chapters from Conversations With Ananda.

By Swami Kriyananda

I met an old yogi in Puri many years ago. When I say old, I should add that his age was about 132 – older, in other words, than most people’s concept of old.

He was very much a believer in total dispassion. I asked him, “Are you saying that one shouldn’t even enjoy a beautiful sunset?”

“No,” he replied. “Everything is maya. This world in all its aspects ought to be totally spurned.”

I know that’s one approach to enlightenment. I confess it doesn’t appeal to me. I’d say that beauty in a sunset is one manifestation of God. I can’t imagine Him being wholly pleased by anyone’s complete rejection of His handiwork. Nor can I imagine Him spurning His own creation contemptuously. Such an approach to God seems dry, lifeless, and very unattractive.

My Guru had a very different approach to spiritual truth. He loved and enjoyed everything, but without attachment, and always as a manifestation of the Supreme Joy and Beauty. It was wonderful to see His positive attitude toward everything. For he could be very stern also, in the matter of egoic non-attachment to this world. But being with him brought me to wonder whether utter rejection of beauty and delight in God’s creative manifestations isn’t, itself, a kind of egotism. Isn’t it judgment, in a sense, to spurn anything? I must say, I like my Guru’s approach much better. He affirmed life – said YES to it, but then gave every enjoyment back to the supreme source of all joy: Satchidanandam.

I have to admit that that old yogi must have achieved something, if only because he’d been able to live so long. But whatever he had, I didn’t feel from him the joy that inspires one to seek spiritual truths. I think that, along with the practice of “neti, neti” (“not this, not that”), there ought, surely, to be a companion practice: “This! This!” For God’s joy is behind every thunder cloud, even. He is beyond all pleasure and pain, all beauty and ugliness, all happiness and sorrow. Even in our tests, we should rejoice. To find Him is to find joy, love, and beauty everywhere!