"…And to everything there is given its nature, free from all insincerity." -The I Ching
"What is correct creation, master?"
"You know it when you see it. It is perfect. Whole. Divinely balanced. Harmonious.
To create correctly requires that the channel through which divine energy flows be sincere, without fault, elegant in the sense the word is used in physics."
Today, the ideal of elegance is upheld almost universally among theoretical physicists. In this realm, elegance implies simplicity, symmetry, a distillation to the essential. Einstein’s relativity theory remains an unparalleled example of minimalist elegance. It captures the workings of the universe in an equation that takes up less than a line of text. As a theory, it’s not only beautiful, but it’s also empirically true. These are the essential attributes of elegance – beauty and truth.
Richard Feynman, one of physic’s intuitive geniuses says, "You can recognize truth by its beauty and simplicity. When you get it right, it is obvious that it is right." We tilt our heads, hearing again the whisperings of Keats’s Grecian urn – "Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
I recently came across the following definition of elegance in a French version of Town and Country: Etre elegant, c’est etre vrai. Que l’on soit simple ou sophistique, il faut toujours rester authentique. "To be elegant is to be true. Whether one is simple or sophisticated, one must always remain authentic."
Correct creation requires inner elegance. Inner elegance is a state beyond complexity. It is simplicity regained, paradise restored. It is the state of radical freedom achieved when you are who you actually are, when you live out the truth of yourself, giving up all false facades, all masks and armors of self-protection. When you have attained yourself, you can be yourself. You are yourself – whole and holy. All the obstacles have been removed.
I recently received the gift of this lesson through the teaching of Nature. I lay drowsing in bed, not long ago, on a perfect summer morning. No one else was home, sleep felt luscious, and there was nothing pressing I needed to do. I stretched, luxuriating in the smooth, cool sheets. I was about to drift back to sleep when I heard something marvelous just outside my window – birdsong, not your simple garden variety, but operatic, virtuoso birdsong. Some glorious, tremulous little creature was singing its heart out just outside my bedroom.
I got up and looked out the window. I searched the branches of the large, leafy elm that shades the front of the house, but I couldn’t find the source of my astonishing serenade. I wanted to see what I was hearing, so I went downstairs and, still in my pajamas, walked outside and circled the house so I could look up into the branches of the tree from below. There, just outside my window, was a gorgeous red male cardinal, still singing, hitting all the high notes of his aria perfectly.
The sky was brilliant summer blue, and I shaded my eyes to better watch his ongoing performance. Cars passed, bicycles passed, but I remained standing in my front yard in my pajamas, entranced. I realized I was in the presence of an entity being its pure, true self. His song was nothing but his exquisite own. He was a living, breathing example in flaming red of the credo of jazz great Charles Mingus: "Be yourself and play yourself."
In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus takes this lesson a step further, pointing out the consequences of not being yourself, of not living your truth. He said, "If you let out what is inside of you, what you let out of you will save you. If you do not let out what is inside of you, what you do not let out will destroy you." All we need do is look around ourselves to see the truth of this teaching. Many people – most, perhaps – destroy themselves by living lies, by keeping up marriages, relationships, careers, lifestyles, social positions, gender roles, or sexual orientations that simply are not true. It takes courage to be real. It may also take years of hard inner labor to discern what one’s truth actually is. To me, Jesus’ two simple sentences are an elegant encapsulation of the lessons of all psychology.
While the effort required to "be yourself and play yourself" may be awesome, so is the reward. From this state of inner truth, you can create your perfect life – that which is true for you. You desire the right things. You discern their rightness for you by what you perceive as their balance and harmony. Your true perception perceives their truthfulness for your life. There is a consonance between inner and outer, a perfect match: elegance.
An additional benefit is that life becomes incredibly fun. Struggle disappears; you no longer have to fight to make your way. Like my dazzling red cardinal, when you sing your song, all who have ears to hear, all whom God intended to hear your voice, will hear it. There is not strain or exertion. There’s only delight in being who God intended you to be, delight in standing on an urban street corner in your pajamas, looking up and laughing with joy at a bird.