22: Grace and Beauty

A splashy sunset bathes the mountains in a soft radiance; the light of a full moon dances on the surface of a rippling river. Grace and beauty adorn the natural world. Grace is neither an all-powerful force nor an essential or fundamental thing. By itself, it is form without content. Grace is moonlight on water, not the sunlight at noon. Yet grace brings artistic expression into the world, and enhances the quality of our lives. Grace brings success in small matters.

In the arts, grace arises out of adherence to form: the dancer becoming the choreography of the dance, the musician giving life to a musical score, the painter becoming one with brush and canvas. In human affairs, grace is aligned with mastery of aesthetic and cultural forms honed by time and honored by tradition. Through appreciation of graceful forms in human culture, we apprehend the pure beauty of the ideal—of life raised above the struggle for survival.

Possession of grace, like the bearing of a beautiful gift to a wedding, can add stature to those in humble positions. Take care to lend grace and dignity to small matters while giving the weight of deep and careful consideration to matters of greater consequence. Though artistic flair should not be confused with true substance, it can take one far in this world.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

Resist the temptation to create false impressions of your position or stature. It is more graceful and dignified to wash your own car for picking up an honored guest than to rent a limousine.

Line 2

Petty self-adornment does not produce success; it can be disastrous to confuse vanity with grace. Devoting too much attention to external appearances stifles the grace of movement and bearing, which are far more important.

Line 3

All lives have their charmed moments. Likewise, this line refers to that mellow mood induced by wine: as much as we can be transported by its spell, we can also be overcome by its negative effects. Learn to stay awake for the pleasant moments, and through kindness and good humor, gracefully bring charm into the lives of others. Avoid overindulgence, and good fortune will be yours.

Line 4

Grace, brilliance, fame, and fortune; or simplicity, dignity, honor, and transcendence? If the former is your choice, look for a sign from the outside. If you have any doubts, look within, as it is likely that simplicity is the answer. The simpler choice may cause a slight feeling of regret at first, but in the end, it will bring true peace of mind and stable relationships with good people.

Line 5

People with few material possessions may feel ashamed and lacking in grace when meeting someone of great wealth whom they admire. Though a certain amount of apprehension is natural, sincerity of feeling is the most valuable gift between friends. In the end, it is this sincerity that brings success, not material riches.

Line 6 (top line)

The fully developed person exudes grace from his or her inner being and has little need for superficial adornments. When form is perfectly aligned with content, simple measures are sufficient to assure success.