“Philosophy, in its simplest form, is the exploration of the beauty and ugliness of life.”–philosopher, physician, poet, and writer, Debasish Mridha
Mridha’s quote came to mind yesterday afternoon while looking at the front yard and the street outside of the window in the music room/den. An attractive calico cat crept through the grass, stalking one of the blue jays that regularly hangs out in my yard. The cat sprung into attack; simultaneously the blue jay flew up and perched within the safety of a tree. Within moments, the jay began screeching to alert other jays about the presence of danger. The cat cowered in shame or fear. She soon slinked away and scampered across the street to hide in the neighbor’s flower bed.
I remembered that while cats have a pleasant appearance to us, they are primarily predators. The strays that roam the neighborhood have been slaughtering the songbirds, including blue jays. I’ve seen evidence of this destruction in the form of feathers in the yard. Every time I see another blue jay feather, I wince and feel sadness.
The problem of cats killing songbirds, particularly blue jays, creates inner turmoil. I have always loved cats, and they generally get along with me. Meantime, as you can tell by the name of this blog, I am quite fond of blue jays. Blue jays invoke spiritual yearnings within me. The birds symbolize curiosity, endurance, faithfulness, intelligence, perseverance, protectiveness, and a healthy dose of mischievousness. Whenever I see or hear blue jays, my spirit soars.
Folk wisdom claims that finding a blue jay feather is auspicious. Some Native American sages believe that finding a blue jay feather invokes clarity and mental strength. Such feathers symbolize faithfulness because the birds form strong, monogamous bonds with their mates. Blue jays are highly protective of their loved ones and those in their social circle. This symbolism is personally inspirational. Last year, I found a perfect tail feather, cleaned it and stuck it in the hat band of one of my cowboy hats.
When we contemplate the concept of beauty we understand that there must be ugliness as a contrasting concept. Without ugliness, we could not name beauty. It is much the same with darkness and light. Although judging things as ugly or beautiful may not always be politically correct, we humans seem hardwired to do so. Generally speaking, we prefer graceful lilies over tangled thorn bushes. We select our mates at least partially because they seem attractive to us in some way.
Whether we feel inspired by an auspicious sign, such as a blue jay feather or our spirits fly high while viewing a majestic sunset, we feel beauty in the core of our being. When we notice visual ugliness or crudeness in behavior, we experience a mixture of emotions including revulsion and denial.
A guru once advised me that when there is purity, it is counter-balanced with defilement. If you do not crave purity, nobody can defile you. Likewise, where there is beauty, it is counterbalanced with ugliness. If you do not define yourself by your beauty, then who can consider you ugly? The guru said that such considerations are akin to walking along a tightrope. It is best to take beauty and ugliness in stride because they are both integral to life. The gorgeous lotus flower has its roots in the unsightly mud of the pond.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes novelist, Jack Kerouac. “I made myself famous by writing ‘songs’ and lyrics about the beauty of the things I did and ugliness, too.”