Drawing out the Essence: Contemplating Beauty, Rasa, Sweetness & Joy

Beauty is essential.

To beautify could be said to be more about drawing out the inner than embellishing the outer. Yet when true Beauty is known both inner and outer become less boundaried and the maxim 'beauty lies within' becomes somewhat redundant.

The drawing out of true Beauty is concomitant with a being drawn in to Her.

Immersion in Beauty at Her deepest level resolves inner and outer and in that space within-without/above-below become merely communication strategies.

In this resolving, embellishment of the outer becomes the means of drawing out of the inner and vice-versa without the complexity of any paradox whatsoever.

Then Beauty Herself has beautified perception, dwells within perception, and has become Perception.

Within Without

There is a Sanskrit word called ‘rasa’ which has a variety of meanings according to context yet these all are connected, if not obviously; all possess a relationship with ‘essence’. In aesthetics, and especially dance, ‘rasa’ is translated as ‘feeling’ or ‘emotion’ but ‘rasa’ refers to a subtle precursor of what we would understand emotion and feeling to be and is hard to translate. In this context ‘feeling-tone’ works: it is more like the essence, the substrate, of a feeling. 'Rasa' can mean sap, juice and dew; again, all having the connotation of essence.

In Ayurvedic medicine ‘rasa’ has a variety of meanings. It can mean mercury in the context of ‘rasa-shastra’, the science of ayurvedic alchemy whereby medicines such as ‘bhasmas’ are made by harnessing the essential qualities of mercury and other metals and minerals. From its meaning as mercury, in traditions connected with Shiva, it then becomes synonymous with semen. The ayurvedic system of rejuvenation employs protocols of strengthening the body and psyche is called ‘rasa-yana’ and here it refers to the path of drawing out the essential invigorative qualities in the body. Rasa-yana is also used differently in the context of the tantric inner-alchemy but still the meaning is the ‘way of the essence’. In ayurvedic anatomy ‘rasa’ refers to the first of seven dhatus (layers of process) which compromise the process of the building of the body (Ayurveda addresses anatomy and physiology from the perspective of process rather than structure). ‘Rasa’ here is the available essence of food after digestion which is then in turn builds the next layer, the blood/rakta-dhatu. Also ‘rasa’ means taste, as in the taste of food, and as such an essential part of it, and its relationship with the tongue and then digestion.

Morning dew on Mam Tor

There are six rasas/tastes categorised in Ayurveda and each taste has as its own essence … the rasa of the rasa as it were… and that is its connection with the five elements which in turn are the rasas of all appearance. The sweet taste (madhu-rasa) contains predominately the earth element; it is grounding, cooling, and calming and has its own profound connection with Beauty. True Sweetness, true Joy, and the groundedness of embodiment all have a close connection. From this perspective it is interesting to contemplate our culture’s troubled history and relationship with sugar; the drawing out of sweetness has been replaced with the immediate hit of the saccharine and by and large the ability to draw real Joy and meaning out of life has suffered for it. And so, in turn, has modern culture’s connection with Earth suffered in both its substantial, embodied, and qualitative forms.

Most who have cut processed sugars out of their diets know that after a while their body learns to draw the innate sweetness out of real food again. The palate adjusts quite quickly and then one can play with this new appreciation in the preparing and cooking of food. One can draw out the sweetness and by extension the richness, groundedness, and joy of the earth element in food and make an offering of these qualities in a meal. When we draw out this Beauty in food it becomes 'prasad'; a sweet tasting offering of nourishment that is sating yet never sickly. Our relationship with food becomes sacred, food becomes something of true beauty that nourishes on many levels. This is a drawing out of essence.

There is profound Joy and a sweetness of meaning to be found in life, regardless of how the inevitable variegations of circumstance present themselves. Just as the palate learns in the absence of toxic sweetness to draw out the qualities of true sweetness, so the body-mind can learn to draw the true beauty, sweetness, and joy out of appearances. Beauty is both the doorway to this and Beauty is the meaning of this. The drawing out of Beauty from within life, from within appearance, and beauty as the adornment of life, of appearance, is a concomitant process. It is all the drawing out of essence.

Beauty is essential.

'The Philosophers say the whosoever can bring to light a hidden thing is a Master of the Art.' ~ ‘Splendor Solis’


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