My wife is my mirror. After all, I never see my partner; rather, in him or her I see a reflection of my qualities. For instance, I don’t understand the beauty standard accepted in China. I look at a woman who has a reputation for being a true beauty and I wonder: I would never call her beautiful. To my taste, her face is too round, her eyes are too narrow, and her hair is too straight. It all seems unattractive to me.
But once I read an article by a Chinese journalist about the international beauty pageant “Miss Asia” and it said that the girl wouldn’t have won in China because her eyes were too big. I was simply stunned about how different our perceptions of beauty were—they were totally opposite. This is why we can’t understand each other.
It follows that I look at the girl in front of me and project upon her all my ideas about beauty. And if I don’t ascend above them, it will affect our entire relationship. I won’t perceive her as she is, with all of her true qualities, but will see in her the reflection of my properties, my taste.
When one looks at a person in an unbiased way, it’s impossible to determine at all whether he or she is beautiful or not. Ask any mother, and she will tell you that nobody looks better in the world than her child. As it is said, “love will cover all sins.”
And on the opposite, our ego, hatred will disfigure all beauty. The appearance of a person whom I hate also becomes unbearable. And although to be objective, I’m ready to admit that according to my criteria, he or she seemingly has a pretty face, I hate it for other reasons.
Only humans exhibit such attitude. Animals don’t look at the beauty; they value in each other power, the ability to procreate, to bear healthy offspring, and raise them till they become independent.
Man, however, is spoiled with the notion of beauty. In truth, this is not beauty, but the demonstration of my ego: special conditions I present to the opposite side, which exceed the necessary minimum required of the physical body.
If we looked at each other rationally, naturally, I would see me before me a healthy, strong woman whom I am ready to marry. After all, I see that she will keep house well. In the past, people used to choose a spouse based on this simple, egoistic principle. Or they took the social standing, wealth into account. People didn’t pay much attention to the beauty, but used to choose a spouse based on simple, pragmatic reasons: what is good for life.
More often, even parents used to choose and act as matchmakers for the couples, not the young people. This was customary in most cultures. Or they turned for advice to a clever, respected person. In our times we suddenly come to such distortion that it in particular obliges us to perform the correction.
Today we consider only whether we love each other or not. All movies tell only about such love. It wasn’t like that before. We don’t understand how people lived a hundred or two hundred years ago. Love or mutual attraction wasn’t in the field of view. Sexual attraction did play a role, but it’s not what today we mean by the concept of love. It has developed just very recently and spoiled our entire life…. Hence, if we use it correctly and “cover all sins with our love,” if we deal with our impulse to love or hate the other in this particular way, we will succeed.
From a “Talk on Integral Upbringing” 7/31/2012