There are thousands of books written by great philosophers in an effort to define beauty. The effort is as old as man himself, because even the first man must have felt beauty. It is impossible to conceive that the first man did not feel that the roses are beautiful, that the lotus flower is beautiful, that the starry night is beautiful, that the full moon is beautiful, that silent eyes are beautiful, that the face of a buddha is beautiful. It is impossible to conceive that the first man was not aware of beauty. But thousands of years, thousands of efforts of aestheticians, philosophers, poets, painters – all have failed to define a simple phenomenon which everybody experiences. It is not something that only very unique individuals experience; it is experienced by everybody in some way or other…such a vast and common experience.
But then the question arises: What is it? When you try to pinpoint it, suddenly it disappears. You know it, but you cannot say.
A beautiful incident in Rabindranath Tagore’s life:
He used to go deep into the rivers in the lonely silences of the forest on his houseboat. One full-moon night, he was on his houseboat reading a book on beauty by a great philosopher…and they all start with great enthusiasm, as if they are going to define. And as you go deeper into the book the enthusiasm starts disappearing and you can start feeling their embarrassment that they have taken on a task which is intrinsically impossible. And as he closed the book, coming to the conclusion that beauty is indefinable. He was reading the book in the candlelight, and because of the candlelight, the light of the moon had not entered through the windows of his cabin. He blew out the candle, he was going to bed, and suddenly from everywhere the moonlight came in, dancing.
He said, “My God, what a fool I am. Beauty is standing at the door, almost knocking! I am blinded by a small candle, and I am so much absorbed in reading the book – which is nothing but empty words, which leads nowhere but into the desert of indefinability.”
He opened all the windows, all the doors, and came out on the deck of the boat. He had seen many beautiful nights, many beautiful full moons, but he had never seen such beauty, such silence. On the river, it was all silver of the moon. He remained silent, almost moonstruck.
In many languages the word moonstruck means madman. And certainly if you open your heart to the moon, it is maddening; it is so immensely beautiful that your mind stops its chattering – you fall into a silence which we call meditation.
He wrote in his diary that night, “The beauty can be seen, can be felt, can be experienced, it can drive you mad, but you cannot define it. And I decide from today not to read any book which is an effort to define beauty, because no book can do it.”
Mysticism is simply to bring into your life all those dimensions which are indefinable, and make you courageous enough to accept them, knowing perfectly well that definition is not possible, that reason is impotent.
Just because idiots have been asking questions: How? Why? – slowly, slowly the whole of humanity has dropped all those things about which they cannot give explanations. Life has become very mundane, profane; it has lost its sacredness, its divinity. It has lost its godliness.