This quote from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh speaks to the age old questions of determining the good, the true, and the beautiful.
I think it was Plato that first presented these ideas.
They are coming back in the digital era – see Dr. Howard Gardner’s lecture, below.
The Good, The True, And The Beautiful
Thich Nhat Hanh spoke on compassion and seeing the good within ourselves.
The talk took place on November 20, 1997 in New Hamlet, Plum Village.
It was titled, “The good, beautiful, and true is in us.”
The beautiful, the true and the good which we look for is something we look for in a person, and we think that there are few people who have that thing. But we have a wrong perception. Because sometimes the beauty we think is real beauty is not true beauty. The truth is not real truth and we think it’s real truth. And the wholesome, we think it is true, but it’s not real goodness. So if we are basing on our wrong perception then our love can arise based on that wrong perception. And when we have lived with that person for a period of time, we discover that we have failed. Because that person is not able to symbolize for us the beautiful, good, and true that we were looking for and we say that person has deceived us, and we suffer. And then we go and look for a second object.
Every one of us in the beginning feels that we lack something, that we are only half a person. And we wander around in this world to look for our other half. We’re like a saucepan that hasn’t got a lid, and we’re always going looking for our lid. That is why we feel we lack the other person. But if we observe carefully, we see that this feeling of lack arises from a wrong perception. We have an inferiority complex, that the true, the good, and the beautiful do not exist in us. That is a very deep complex in every one of us. We have a perception that we are not worthy. No truth, no beauty, no goodness is in us. And there is no way that we can have confidence in ourselves. We don’t say these things, but it is what we feel. We feel that we haven’t any beauty, goodness and truth. . .
In this world, on this earth we are deceiving each other. Deep down we feel there is nothing good, beautiful and true in us. But on the other hand, we are trying to show people all the time the good, beautiful, and true that we are. . . when we are able to recognize that in us there is the essence of the good, the beautiful and the true, we will be able to stop going in search. We will stop feeling that we lack something and we will stop running around in the world, in the universe looking for something. The truth is that we return to ourselves in order to be in touch with the good, beautiful and true that are in us. And at the moment we are in touch with those things, we are able to stop wandering around feeling we lack something. And we are able to stop deceiving others. We don’t have to adorn ourselves, make ourselves up anymore, because we have discovered the true, the beautiful, and the good right here within us.
Watch what the eminent psychologist and Harvard University Professor, Dr. Howard Gardner has to say about The Good, The True and the Beautiful.
One of the exercises we teach people who attend our Mindfulness in Healing sessions is based on these ideas.
We have them notice something beautiful everyday until the next session and report back to us.
This mindfulness practice gives us to opportunity to stop for a moment to observe and enjoy the wonders of life.
Please find something beautiful, good, or true within yourself today and share it!