What I Learned From Ugliness
Do you remember when you first began to understand the concept of “Ugliness”?
It might have been when you were first made to feel ugly in some way – either about your physical body, your character or your actions.
It might be your earliest memory of meeting someone’s disgust or disapproval.
I remember when I was about 6 years old, a schoolmate told me in really graphic ways that I had very ugly feet. That was the first time I was made aware of my deficiency there.
Over time, I learned that many other aspects of my body were ugly to others. I even found that my ethnicity was ugly to many people in my hometown. But it was at home that I faced the harshest criticisms, accusations and punishments – being repeatedly told that I was worthless, stupid and bad.
So I ended up developing a series of phobias, neuroses and negative expectations of the people around me. Everywhere I went, I expected people to ignore me, exclude me, dislike me or attack me. The world thought I was ugly and I, full of rage in my heart, returned the favour.
Kids Say The Darndest Things
Most children seem to pick up the word “Ugly” rather quickly and begin expressing their understanding of this term at home, at school and at the playground. They may single out other kids that they think are ugly and call them names, shun them, bully them or beat them up. (In their innocence, children can say and do some pretty mean things.)
And of course, the outcasts tend to learn quickly too. When you’re on the receiving end, cruelty always feels inherently ugly. But cruelty is how you start to learn about the Ugliness that’s inside people – visible only through their actions, their words or their energy.
For those who were often misunderstood or deeply mistreated, the painful memories can lodge so deeply in the body that it may take years to heal the mockery, the alienation and the humiliation.
For a long time, it might manifest as shame, poor body image, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, loneliness, fear of intimacy or evolve into apathy, anti-social behaviour, addictions or violence.
As a child, I kept thinking that it wasn’t fair that anyone should have to suffer like that.
Ugliness Was One Of My Earliest Teachers
I used to repeatedly lament: How could this happen? Life isn’t fair!
And yet I was also drawn to the Ugliness of humanity. It fascinated me. So I watched how Ugliness showed up at school, at home, in the media and in history. And I looked at where I felt most ugly – inside and out. What did I not like about myself and why?
On the dark side, I saw that Ugliness can carve you in its own image.
Sometimes, it will etch your face with heaviness from all the crying and grimacing or it will bend your body from all the years of cringing and constricting. (Strangers used to accuse me of looking angry when I walked by innocently. It was because I’d spend decades holding so much tension in my face that it had “frozen” that way.)
Ugliness can also shape your long-term attitude and experiences.
A dark cloud may be following you – raining on your parade even when the original storm has long departed. Or unwittingly, the abused perpetuates the storm or violence in future relationships by unconsciously attracting it or by becoming the abuser.
It pained me to see how Ugliness had hurt so many people. But thankfully, there was a silver lining.
On the light side, Ugliness can make us stronger, fuel our tenacity and reveal our determination.
I witnessed the incredible resiliency of the human spirit and how many are able to survive even the most painful experiences. I saw that some people could overcome great obstacles and limitations to reach wellness, happiness and success.
Exposure to Ugliness can actually help us define our values more clearly.
It really inspired me to be a more ethical and empathetic human being. It was one of the reasons I had committed to cultivating Beauty in my life.
But going beyond divisions of Darkness and Light, the ultimate realization that I had, was to understand that the Teachings of Ugliness were necessarily part of the Teachings of Beauty!
Here are some thoughts I had on the way towards understanding Ugliness:
1) If you really appreciate Beauty (in nature, in people, in art, in principle and in action), then you will naturally be sensitive to Ugliness.
2) Similarly, if you deeply value “goodness”, then you’ll really be upset when you or others are “bad” or “not good enough”.
3) Thus, in order to be at peace with Ugliness, you must look more deeply to find its hidden purpose or truth.
And that’s when I discovered the gift of Transcendence.
This is your ability to go beyond duality and embrace the oneness of things.
Sounds good right? But such talk can be so intellectual.
Our minds may applaud this wondrous idea but our bodies are still carrying many memories of fear and separation.
This is why it is only transformative when you can taste Transcendence in your everyday experiences.
When something ugly happens, you must seek the deeper truth or meaning. Instead of labeling it as Ugliness, you can seek the essential Beauty of the moment and invite it to reveal itself. If you believe in Oneness, then Ugliness cannot be separate from Beauty.
As you practice doing this, you will discover the presence of the True, Good & Beautiful. In everything. In everyone. Everywhere.
You will increasingly understand why people do what they do and your empathy will help activate progressive solutions. Complex issues like addiction, violence, greed and war require compassionate intelligence.
But it doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a life-long practice.
It requires great devotion and compassion to overcome initial knee-jerk reactions like judgment, horror, hatred etc.
Yet it’s also not about having “feel-good” blinders on.
In fact, you must develop greater Vision in order to experience deeper Truths.
So the best medicine for those who are heartbroken or enraged by injustice, violence or other forms of ugliness in our world…
… is to commit even more fully to seeing the True, Good and Beautiful.
When you can trust that it exists in even the ugliest places, the ugliest people and the ugliest actions – then you have awakened an evolved wisdom that will allow you to adventure more deeply into the the heart of Humanity and the Universe.
P.S. To receive guidance on how to work with your own Teachings of Ugliness and Beauty, you may be interested in the Evolution of The Dreamer program.
|Click here for details: Evolution of the Dreamer
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