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Modern society reveres beauty; it values aesthetics over substance and has a very narrow definition of what it considers beautiful.
In terms of people, the aesthetic appears to be that of a television celebrity teenager: wrinkle-free, smooth-skinned, pubescent body and straight hair.
Television uses make-up and lighting, as do magazine photographers.
What you see is not real.
Adults actually turn to the butchery of cosmetic surgery in the hope of looking like a teenager again.
There is a danger in believing illusions and attempting to re-shape your looks to fit them.
Perfection is simply a concept, an idea of how things could be.
The problem with a concept or standard is that it does not reflect reality and never will, regardless of how many people subscribe to it.
Nature is not concerned with concepts of perfection.
Things are what they are: they grow, they age, they die.
Along the Way, things become damaged, worn, faded and marked - and this is normal and healthy.
Work on the mind
A flower in a field does not need to be altered or improved, an animal is true to its nature, and a rock is simply a rock.
They are already perfect and so are you.
It is your thoughts that need to change, not your appearance.
Beauty in imperfection
In Taoism, beauty is found in different things.
Wrinkles, creases, wood grain and irregular patterns in the sand are all examples of an alternate aesthetic.
They are called 'li' and are seen as being similar to incense smoke rising or the swirling, unpredictable flow of water.
Wrinkles show character and creases add texture.
Wear and tear
If people only value novelty and youth, then aging has no place.
This is absurd, since we are all aging - and death cannot ultimately be avoided.
Tao and Zen see beyond the shiny and the new, and admire character.
Wear and tear are seen as positive values; they make things unique and unusual rather than similar and bland.
18 March 1997
Last updated 29 September 2019