To be beautiful

Working Title/Artist: From the Faraway, Nearby Department: Modern Art Culture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: 1938 photography by Malcolm Varon 1984 transparency #5AD scanned and retouched by film and media (jn) 12_13_04

Last year, I joined a sangha in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and it’s so good to be a part of it. I can talk about Thay to my heart’s content and listen to others talking about him. Here is a passage which a sangha member shared. I consider it a wonderful gift, and in turn I offer it to you …

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. When you are born a lotus flower, be a beautiful lotus flower, don’t try to be a magnolia flower. If you crave acceptance and recognition and try to change yourself to fit what other people want you to be, you will suffer all your life. True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself, having confidence in yourself.”


Text: Thich Nhat Hanh

Image: From the Faraway, Nearby, 1937, Georgia O’Keeffe


10 thoughts on “To be beautiful

  1. Ah, this touches my heart, Narelle. I just listened to a Buddhist podcast called “Good Life Project.” The episode featured a psychoanalyst called Teri Cole who specializes in romantic love. She discussed something she called the “Disease to Please” among many people (women mostly) who never find love because they don’t love themselves. Why don’t they love themselves? Because they are afraid. They haven’t resolved some issue that is blocking them from expressing their authentic selves, so they live their lives trying to be whoever they think others want them to be.

    I have come a long way in my journey toward embracing my authentic self. It hasn’t been comfortable or easy. And I certainly am a work in progress. At least I am a work in progress, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

    I am also grateful for your precious reminders to live an authentic, courageous life. <3


    • You’re beautiful, Lorna. Oh yes, I can relate to the podcast. I’ve experienced that fear and the absence of love for myself. That was the substance of the breakthrough I had last Easter. I saw the extent to which I had lived my life from the “I’m bad and wrong” view of a chastised two-year old. I had circled around it for a long time, and it took a serious and sustained commitment to cracking through it and also courage and compassion because it’s not exactly something one wants to see, the life one might have led.

      That’s one of the things that keeps it in place. Another thing is that it’s almost impossible to see because it’s been there so long and it was forged in a moment of threat.

      Liked by 1 person

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