Inner and outer beauty
What is the connection between inner and outer beauty? The outward beauty comes from a different source than the inner. For example, extreme beauty comes from your father and mother: their bodies create your body. But inner beauty comes from the consciousness growth you carry from many lives.
It is a matter of joining the physical inheritance of your father and mother with the spiritual heritage of your own past lives, consciousness, bliss, and joy in your individuality. So the router doesn’t have to be a reflection of the inner, nor will vice versa be true, that the inner will correspond with the outer.
But sometimes your inner beauty is so much, your inner light is so much that it radiates from your outer body. Your external body may not be beautiful, but the light from your sources, your innermost sources of eternal life, will make an attractive body appear beautiful and radiant in the ordinary sense.
But vice versa, it is never true. Your outer beauty is only skin-deep. It cannot affect your inner beauty. On the contrary, outer beauty hinders searching for the inner: you become too identified with the external. Who is going to look for the internal sources? Most often, it happens that the people who are outwardly very beautiful are inwardly horrid. Their outer beauty becomes a cover-up to hide behind, and it is experienced by millions of people every day. You fall in love with a woman or a man because you can see only the outer. And just within a few days, you start discovering his inner state; it doesn’t correspond to his outer beauty. On the contrary, it is repulsive.
For example, Alexander the Great had a gorgeous body, but he killed millions of people to fulfil his ego that he was the world conqueror. On his way to India, he met one man, Diogenes, who lived naked, the only man in Greece who did; unique in beauty was tremendous, not just the outer, but the inner radiance was so dazzling that even Alexander had to stop his armies when he was close by in a forest near a river. He stopped the troops and went to see Diogenes alone because he did not want anybody to know that a far more beautiful man than Alexander himself existed.
It was early morning, and Diogenes was taking a sunbath naked on the riverbank. Alexander could not believe that a beggar … He had nothing, no possessions — even Buddha used to have a begging bowl, but that Diogenes had thrown away. He was absolutely without any control, precisely as he was born naked.
Alexander could not believe his eyes. He had never seen such a beautiful personality, and he could see that this beauty was not just on the outer side. Something infiltrated the inner; subtle radiation and a subtle aura surrounded him. All around him, there was a fragrance, a silence. If the inner becomes beautiful — which is in your hands — the outer will have to mould itself according to the inner. The exterior is not essential and will have to reflect the inner somehow.
But the converse is not true at all. You can have plastic surgery and a beautiful face, eyes, and nose; you can change your skin and shape. However, that is not going to change your being. Inside, you will remain greedy, full of lust, violence, anger, rage, and jealousy, with a tremendous will to power. All these things the plastic surgeon can do nothing about. For that, you will need a different kind of surgery. It is happening here: you are on the table. A deep atonement with existence happens as you become more meditative and peaceful.
You fall into the rhythm of the universe. The universe also has its heartbeat. Once it starts in rhythm with the universal heartbeat, your heartbeat transforms your being from that ugly stage of animality into authentic humanity. And even the human is not the end. You can go on searching deeper, and there is a place where you transcend humanity, and something of the divine enters you. Once the sacred is there, it is like a light in a dark house. The windows will start showing in the morning; even the cracks in the wall, roof, or doors will begin offering the inner light.
The inner is tremendously powerful, and the outer is very weak. The inner is eternal, and the exterior is very temporary. How many years do you remain young? And as youth fades away, you start feeling that you are becoming ugly unless your inner being is also growing with age. Then even in your old age, you will have a beauty that the youth may feel jealous of. Remember, the change to the outer happens from the inner, but I am not making it inevitable. It often happens, but sometimes the exterior is so rotten that even the internal radiation cannot change it.
There have been cases on record: one very great mystic of India — I have spoken on him for almost half a year continuously. His name was Ashtavakra. And what he has written is tremendously essential; each sentence has so many dimensions to be explored, but the man himself was in a complicated situation.
Ashtavakra was given to him because he was almost like a camel. He has distorted the body in eight places — one leg was more prolonged, one arm was shorter, and his back was bent. So in eight areas, he was distorted. So that’s how he was born, with a crippled, distorted body. But even in a crippled and deformed body, the soul is as beautiful as the most beautiful body.
He became enlightened, but his body was too rigid to change with his inner change. Finally, his eyes started showing something of beauty, but his whole body was such a mess. The story is that the emperor of India in those days was Janak, who was very interested in philosophical discussions. Each year he used to call a big conference of all the scholars, philosophers, theologians or whoever wanted to participate. It was a championship competition. One very famous philosopher, Yagnavalkya, came a little late. The conference started, & he saw one thousand beautiful cows standing outside. Their horns were covered with gold & diamonds. This was going to be the prize for the champion. It was a hot day, & the cows were perspiring.
He told his disciples, “You take these cows. As far as winning the competition is concerned, I am certain. Why should the cows suffer here? You take them to our place.” So they had their place in the forest. Even Janak could not prevent him because he knew he had been the champion continuously for five years, and he would be the champion this time because nobody else could defeat him. It is not right to take the reward before you have won, but his victory was so sure to everybody that nobody objected. And his disciples took away all the cows.
While Yagnavalkya was discussing, an unknown scholar was also at the conference. Ashtavakra was this unknown philosopher’s son. His mother was waiting for her husband to come home. It was getting late, and the meal was getting cold. So she sent Ashtavakra to bring his father home because he could not win the competition. Why should he unnecessarily waste his time? He was a poor scholar, and there were great scholars there. Ashtavakra went. At least one thousand people were the country’s highly cultured and sophisticated scholars at the conference.
As Ashtavakra entered, looking at his distorted body, they all laughed. But Ashtavakra was a man of tremendous integrity. As they started laughing, he laughed even louder. Because of his loud laugh, they stopped. They could not believe that he was laughing. Janak asked him, “I can understand why they are laughing — because of your body, but I cannot understand why you are laughing. And you stopped all their laughing with your laughter.” So a single man stopped one thousand people’s laughter.
Ashtavakra told Janak, “I thought this conference was for scholars and philosophers, but these are all shoemakers. They can understand only the skin. They cannot see the inner and only see the outer.” There was a great silence. What he was saying had a great truth in it. So Janak dissolved the conference and said, “Now I would like to inquire about Ashtavakra only. He has defeated you with his laughter and statement, ‘ You can’t see the inner; you can only see the outer; you are all shoemakers.’ Shoemakers work with the skin of different animals. So I dissolved the conference and, Yagnavalka, returned those one thousand cows because you laughed. And when Ashtavakra laughed, you also stopped!”
It was an extraordinary situation; it had never happened before. And then began the lengthy inquiry of Janak, the emperor. He asked questions, and Ashtavakra answered them. Each answer in itself carried so much meaning and significance. Because his body was in such bad shape, he could not get identified with it. Sometimes blessings come in such disguise. He could not go out because wherever he went, people would laugh, “Look at that man! Have you seen anything uglier than this?”
So he was in the house most of the time, meditating, figuring out, “Who am I? Certainly, I am not this body, and because I can be aware of this body, I can observe this body from within. Certainly, that awareness has to be different from the body.” Because of his crippled body, he experienced enlightenment. The only barrier is identification with the body. But he could not identify it; the body was so ugly. He never looked in a mirror; it would have been a shock. But Yagnavalkya had to return those one thousand cows to Ashtavakra’s house. He was young and defeated one thousand old philosophers in the ancient scriptures.
It is one of the strangest things in this that there have been hundreds of commentaries in every book written by any prominent mystic. Still, I have yet to comment before Ashtavakra. And he must be at least five thousand years old. For five thousand years, nobody has bothered to look into his statements, which are so significant. But his inner enlightenment, his internal understanding, could not change his outer appearance. And yet, for those going deeper into themselves, the external does not matter. They would have seen even in Ashtavakra tremendous beauty, but it would not have been of the outer circumference but of the centre.
Most often, the inner change changes the outer if the outer is not too rigid. But the external never changes the inner. So you need to have eyes, going deep into people’s beings, which is possible only if you go inwards yourself. The deeper you go into yourself, the deeper you can look into other people’s beings.
And then a new world opens its doors. Flanagan is on his deathbed, and Father Murphy has come to give him the last rites. “Open your eyes,” says the priest. “We have got to save your immortal soul.” Flanagan opens one eye, closes it and tries to doze off. He is having such a nice snooze. “Come on now!” says Father Murphy. “If you don’t want to confess, at least answer me this: do you renounce the devil and all his works?” “Well, I don’t know,” says Flanagan, opening one eye again. “At this time, it doesn’t seem very smart to upset anyone.”
The inner comes out, and you cannot hide it much. Now he is very calculating. At the time of death, unnecessarily annoying anybody and who knows where you are going? So it is better to keep silent. A wealthy widower and his beautiful daughter are on a sea cruise. By chance, the girl falls overboard, and Rubin Fingelbaum, aged seventy, splashes in and rescues her. After the two are brought on board the ship, the widower throws his arms around Rubin. “You saved my daughter’s life,” he cries. “I’m a rich man — I will give you anything! Ask for whatever you want!” “Just answer me one question,” replies Rubin. “Who pushed me?” What is inside is bound to come outside. How can you hide it?
An old black preacher had used the letters B.S., M.S. and PhD after his name for many years without ever having had anyone from his congregation ask what they meant. Finally, a nosey older woman questions him about it. “Well, sister,” he answers. “You know what B.S. stands for, don’t you?” “I sure do,” says the lady indignantly. “Bullshit!” “Right,” says the preacher. “And M.S. just means more of the same, and PhD means piled high and deep.” That’s the inner side of most people: bull shit, B.S.; M.S., more of the same; and PhD, piled high and deep.
No plastic surgeon can change it. But you are capable of changing it yourself. It is within your hands. Nobody can do anything about your inner being except you. You are the master of your inner world. And as the inner world becomes silent, naturally, your eyes become more profound, with an oceanic depth. As your inner being becomes cloudless, your face becomes cloudless, just an open sky. As your inner being comes to discover the source of your life, the flame of your life, something of that flame starts radiating from every pore of your body.
This is the rule. Ashtavakra is an exception. Exceptions don’t make the rule, and they only prove the rule. But it has never happened and vice versa, and I don’t think it can ever happen. We are all trying to be beautiful on the outside: all kinds of make-up and all sorts of things are going on to make your outer beauty.
I Have Heard…
A man was catching flies. Finally, after two or three hours, he saw four flies. So he told his wife, “I have caught four flies: two are male, two are female.” The wife said, “My God, how did you figure out who is male and female?” He said, “Easy! Two were sitting for almost two hours in the mirror, and two were for two hours reading the newspaper!”
We are so much identified with the periphery of our being that we have forgotten that the frame does not exist in itself. There must be a centre inside. And the search for the centre is the only religious search — not for God, not for heaven, not for any rewards for your virtues, not to avoid hell and punishment. There is only one authentic religious search: to know your innermost being. It is the being of the whole universe. By entering your innermost temple, you have entered the actual temple. All other temples are false, man-manufactured; all other gods in those temples are wrong. They are man-manufactured.
Only one thing is not man-manufactured: your innermost dignity and grace. So that grace starts flooding your outer being too. And that grace transforms not only the inner but gives a new look to your outer being: innocence, serenity, depth, peace, a love, all flowers blossoming around you. So then even your periphery becomes so beautiful, so musical, such a dance of rejoicing. But it would be best if you started from the inner.