Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing. – Camille Pissarro
I was once taught that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Then I heard that it was all in the mind. Now a lot of people say that beauty is in the heart. I would submit that beauty is a quality of Soul, and once you learn to recognize it within yourself and manifest it outwardly, you will begin to see beauty all around you.
Around 15 years ago, I went to an Eckankar Worldwide Seminar. This is an annual event held in October at the Minneapolis Convention Center. These seminars are truly worldwide events, with several thousand attendees from all over the globe. That year, though, I didn’t know very many people. For a period of time before the seminar, I had been thinking about a concept taught in Eckankar called “the Golden Heart.” Someone who is a Golden Heart is kind and thoughtful, always striving to lift others up, to be of service wherever needed. I wanted to be a Golden Heart, but I despaired of ever achieving that goal. At that seminar, I had a wonderful experience that taught me how to be a Golden Heart, and it has to do with seeing beauty in humble places, as well, so bear with me.
The Worldwide Seminar is held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in late October. On the first day of the seminar, I was having lunch in a cafeteria in the Minneapolis Convention Center. Once you got out of the cafeteria line, there were large, round tables to sit at. I chose a table with a few people sitting at the opposite side and began to eat my lunch. On the other side of the table, there was an older woman sitting with a younger one. The older woman had on a beautiful golden heart pin, and since I had been thinking about being a Golden Heart, I was captivated by it. Suddenly realizing that I was staring, I complimented the woman on her pin. She immediately began to take it off.
“Here. It’s yours. Don’t stick yourself with it,” she said.
“Oh, I can’t accept this,” I protested. “I just wanted to tell you I thought it was pretty.”
“No, you don’t understand,” she said. “The person who gave me this pin told me that I was to give it to whoever complimented me on it. I’m to tell you that you are to do the same. Give it to the first person who compliments you on it.”
The heart was a homemade affair, a thin piece of wood cut in the shape of a valentine heart and painted gold, with no other decoration. A pin had been glued on the back. Later, I figured out how to make my own pins, but, not to get sidetracked from the story… I thanked the woman, put on the pin, finished my lunch, and walked out of the cafeteria, thinking to myself, “Hmmm, maybe I can be a Golden Heart, after all.”
The first workshop I attended in the afternoon session was a talk given by Fran Blackwell and Doug Kunin, entitled “Standing in the Way of Love.” The title of the workshop was up on the overhead projector screen. I saved a place near the front and then went out of the room and into the hallway to stretch my legs a bit, knowing that I would be doing a lot of sitting this weekend. As I stood there, a stream of people began to pass by, all going to the room next to ours. As they passed, I felt this huge, amazing wave of pure love. I was truly “standing in the way of love,” and I wondered what meeting these people were attending. When they were all in their room, I quietly walked to the sign advertising their meeting posted just outside the door. It was a Seventh Initiates’ meeting. All of those people were at least Seventh Initiates in Eckankar, and one of the things about this level of initiation is that they are Lovers of Life.
I went back into Fran and Doug’s workshop, and learned that love is all around us. All we have to do is accept it. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. I also learned that in order to see any quality in another person, you have to recognize that you have that quality within yourself, so acceptance of others’ good qualities means you have to accept your own, as well. In the workshop, we were asked to think of a person whom we admired and list the qualities about the person that we admired. Then we were told that we had those same qualities and asked, “So why aren’t you manifesting these qualities that you love so much?” Good question!
After that workshop, I attended a Roundtable Discussion on a spiritual topic that I no longer remember. It was held in a small room in the Hilton Hotel. All I can recall of that meeting is that there were spotlights in the ceiling, and one of the spotlights was shining down on one particular chair. I visualized it as God’s Love and I decided – having just learned about Standing in the Way of Love – to sit in the way of love. I saw myself accepting God’s love as I sat in the chair. I let that spotlight shine directly down on me for an hour, musing to myself that it’s a little harder, sometimes, to accept God’s love than we think, mainly because we imagine that we’re not worthy. I was cognizant all the time of this beautiful golden heart that I was wearing. It made me feel so special.
When the discussion ended, I decided to have a light snack, then sit in the third-floor of the Hilton Hotel to rest my feet. There weren’t many places to sit, but I found a chair with a high back and sat there feeling like a queen. Suddenly, two women passed by and one of them began to tell me how beautiful my heart pin looked. As I began to take off the pin, I understood why the old woman from whom I got it had seemed just a little bitter as she handed me the pin. Still, I had to follow her directions and give the heart pin away.
When the woman, who was from Poland, protested, I explained to her that I had gotten the pin from someone else, and that the person who gave it to me told me I must give it to someone who complimented me on it. I explained to the Polish woman that she must, in turn, do the same. She agreed. I told her also what I had learned in the workshop, that when we notice something, it means that we already have it within ourselves, otherwise we would never be able to see it.
At the evening session that night, I noticed this Polish woman seated a few rows ahead of me, and thought how beautiful she looked wearing that big, beautiful golden heart. I saw her again on Saturday, too, still wearing the heart.
One thing we always seem to notice at Eckankar seminars is that we meet the people we are supposed to meet, so although it seemed like a coincidence to me back then, I’m no longer surprised that I met this same Polish woman once again on Sunday. This time, we were standing in line in the ladies’ restroom. I noticed that she no longer had the golden heart pin on, so I asked her what had happened. She told me that she ran across a woman from Canada who was sitting alone and crying. She had given the pin to the Canadian woman.
That’s the end of the story, except that the learning curve has continued forward. Whenever I think about someone I admire, I think about their qualities and wonder why I’m not manifesting those same qualities, myself. Then I figure out a way to work on this. It’s a never-ending process. The same goes with beauty. When I see something that I consider beautiful, I wonder why, and I wonder how it is manifested within myself. Not within my body, necessarily, but within me, as Soul.
I think it’s true that we experience all around us that which we already are. Honest people trust others to be honest, and trusting people see trustworthiness. Happy people see happy things, and beautiful people see beauty. That’s why they can see beauty in humble places; they are beauty itself, and their whole world mirrors this. 🙂