Our modern culture puts great emphasis on outer beauty. How something looks has become the most important consideration. Men talk about how a woman looks. Women talk about how a man looks. The fashion industry is booming, cars are sleek and shiny, buildings glisten.
When I wanted to fix up my kitchen, I was told to go to a certain discount furniture warehouse. I did, and the kitchens in their showroom were beautiful, but a little inspection showed me that the beauty was only skin deep. Just beneath the lovely surface was particle board rather than real wood.
This obsession with looks makes sense in a culture that is so materialistic. The problem with superficial beauty is that it doesn't really satisfy, at least not for long. I believe the Buddhists would say that such beauty is empty; it doesn't actually fill you, just as artificial sodas don't give you real nutrition although they look and taste good.
There is another kind of beauty: Inner beauty. Inner beauty comes from essence. In a kitchen cabinet with inner beauty there would be real wood beneath the surface paint. In a person, there would be a beautiful mind and heart, a spiritual beauty that radiates unseen yet sensed and uplifts those nearby.
A woman with inner beauty is perceived as beautiful no matter what the shape of her nose or the smoothness of her skin. It is through the refinement of the mind and heart that inner beauty emerges. Inner beauty not a quick fix from a jar or an operation. Inner beauty is real and takes time to uncover.
One day many years ago, as I was sitting with my meditation teacher, Swami Veda Bharati, I was entranced with how beautiful he was. Swami Veda is a nice looking person, and yet it was clear to me that what I was experiencing was inner-beauty. That experience showed me that inner beauty is far greater than any mere pleasantness of outer form.
Perhaps you've had an experience of inner beauty, or thoughts on the subject, that you'd like to share. If so, please write a comment.