Monday, June 26, 2017


Gautama Buddha is credited with volumes of sayings, teachings, and admonitions most of which he never uttered. It is fairly certain that he provided the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Beyond that: barnacles on a whale's hide.

Right Action is usually listed as the fifth of the eight. What constitutes Right Action? Many clich├ęs suggest answers: Take the path with heart. Follow your passions. Follow your dreams. Stop and smell the roses. Many more.

All such answers imply seeking those experiences which offer aesthetic value. This begs questions: How does one determine aesthetic value? How do aesthetics apply to the daily grind? Why should one bother? Today's posting considers four principles that offer insight for navigating the shoals and wicked seas of daily life.

1. Experiences or objects have aesthetic value if they are judged to be meaningful or teach us truths. Watching television rarely fits into this category. Climbing a mountain does.

Get off the couch.

2. Experiences or objects have aesthetic value if they have the power to provoke change. The music of Ludwig van Beethoven comes to mind.

Listen to music (lose the dumb phone and all other electronic gizmos). Sit. Listen.

Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820

3. Experiences or objects have aesthetic value if they provoke intellectual or emotional harmony. A book by David Quammen, The Song of the Dodo, does both for me.

Read a book.

4. Experiences or objects have aesthetic value if they present a unique perspective of the world and/or its people. Form creates the value; function, in this case, is not relevant. A painting by Picasso suggests itself.

Stretch yourself culturally (physically, too).

The bottom line: De gustibus non disputandum est.

1 comment:

  1. Good thing my tastes fall in line with yours.... :)