0 votes
by (210 points)
edited by

Hello!

Could someone help me to understand what is a normal way of seeing beauty while practicing Buddhism? 

Me and my boyfriend both trying our best to see things right, but it’s hard to find agreement on this topic. 

His idea is that it could be a good practice to see beauty as it is (as a true beauty) and consider it in details (he talks about women and their forms etc.) Idea is that with renunciation of beauty we can still perceive beauty as it is with all the details, pay attention to it. I can hardly understand how it works with renunciation. And it doesn’t feel right if my boyfriend pays attention to so many details in other women so often. It somehow bothers me because exactly this actions grew his greed towards women’s beauty previously, though he didn’t renounce anything that time. Maybe you know how could we deal with greed and have a normal way of seeing things? (Like not avoiding beauty, run from it and hide eyes, but live normally)

He thinks that it’s ok to look at every women’s body, face etc., so he truly knows all the things as it is. Since all women look different, this is the reason to see details of every woman. He also tells that he will pay attention to details in other people as well. He thinks that these details are very important, and we lose something if we don’t see that, is that true? Reference is to the third sutta (see beauty and ugly with “I know and see”). He doesn’t want to limit himself, and wants to have an opportunity to see everything without greed. 

Also there are some suttas that talk about perceiving beauty intentionally:

They’re focused only on beauty.

This is the third liberation.

https://suttacentral.net/dn33/en/sujato?layout=linebyline&reference=none&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin

For insight into greed, eight things should be developed

they’re focused only on beauty

https://suttacentral.net/an8.120/en/sujato?layout=linebyline&reference=none&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin

Perceiving form internally, someone sees visions externally, limited, both pretty and ugly.

https://suttacentral.net/an10.29/en/sujato?layout=linebyline&reference=none&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin

3 Answers

+1 vote
by (8.5k points)
Beauty is not an ultimately real. What's real is seeing, desiring, and perceiving as beautiful. You can't change other people so I would suggest you don't waste your time. But it sounds like there is dislike arising for you and doubt. You should work on seeing this clearly.

As far as paying attention to details, the Buddha advised against this. We should not focus on the details or the sign pertaining to a man or a woman or anything else. We should stop at the experience of seeing and see it just as seeing. If desire arises we should see that just as desiring. We should not extrapolate and make more of what is actually there.
by (210 points)
Thank you for your answer!

Could you help me to see that dislike that you mentioned? What is it towards? Thank you again
by (8.5k points)
It doesn't really matter what its towards. We don't view experiences in that way. If there is dislike we note it until it goes away. Seeing it clearly is what changes us over time; not the intellectual understanding.
by (210 points)
I understand, thank you so much for your help.
+2 votes
by (14.5k points)
edited by

If we assume the best case and think that your partner genuinely believes in what he says and not just trying to take advantage of your tolerance, we can attribute this behavior to the work of Wanchaka Dhammas.  Wanchaka Dhammas are defilements that appear as wholesome qualities. Ex: A man might offer help to a beautiful woman. On the surface it looks like  kindness, but it could very well be motivated by his lust towards her. 

There is no Sutta encouraging men to pay attention to the beauty of female bodies. In fact you are supposed to see the repulsiveness of the human body, especially if you are a lustful person. The mediation is called Patikulamanasikara

As a lay Buddhist, even if you have a partner, you don't have to avoid interactions with the opposite sex as it is a part of the day to day life. But if you are actively looking for beautiful people and describing their looks in detail, it is most likely that you are overcome by lust. This weakens the third precept. In your partner's case, it could even be worse since he has the view that it is good. It's one thing to become tempted, but it's another to take up a wrong view based on that temptation.

by (210 points)
Thank you for your answer!
by (14.5k points)
You're welcome!
0 votes
by (1.3k points)
There is nothing beautiful, there is nothing not beautiful. Take things as it is. It is our deluded mind that makes some conceptions that it is beautiful and it is not beautiful, ultimately we suffer when we can not fulfil our pre-determined conceptions pertaining to beauty. So the ideal way to see things is seeing as it is.
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