Once I was traveling on the train in the first-class air-conditioned compartment. It was a long journey in the night. After having my dinner, I went to sleep. The next morning, I woke up early and I saw on the upper birth above me a beautiful middle-aged Sadhavi. She had placed one big mirror in front of her face and she was busy exploring something in her suitcase. She had already combed her long hair, and she found her lipstick to colour her lips. The colour of the lipstick was matching the colour of her reddish spiritual attire. She looked in perfect shape and fully prepared to be received by her followers who had thronged on the platform of the railway station of her destination.

After she got down the train, I witnessed another train of thoughts in my head contemplating about beauty and what role lipstick plays in enhancing beauty. Often I see that some women use so much lipstick, almost a thick layer of colour, that you only see the lips and nothing else. To me, this is something very gross, though I don’t mind a very thin layer of colour over the lips. I may sound very old-fashioned and the majority of women may object to what I am saying, but this needs to be said.

Some sannyasin sent a question to Osho on the same subject: The other day in discourse you mentioned that when a woman wears red lipstick it is ugly because it is not natural.”Osho responded: In the first place, that woman is ugly — that’s why she wears lipstick. If she had beautiful lips, who would bother to paint those beautiful lips with something tasteless, ugly? — ugly in the sense that your lips are no longer part of your face. They stand out, they become separate; they are no longer an organic unity. I would like women to have red lips, but those red lips should come through the inner health — through blood circulating within your body, through exercise, through breathing; through long walks, through sunbaths, lips should become red. It is beautiful to have red lips, but to pretend…! And for whom are you trying to pretend?

Osho elaborates: “Everybody can see the lipstick is there. The lipstick does not hide your lips, it simply reveals that something ugly is hidden behind it. And I am not saying that all that is not natural is bad. Nature CAN be improved upon. That’s what intelligence is for, but it should not be against nature. For example, the lips can be red through better food, through better exercise, through better medicine. That too is improving upon nature, but improving upon nature in a natural way. ”

Osho is not against any improvement upon nature: Improve upon nature, rather than impose. Make people more aware of their beauty and how to take care of it. Help them in natural ways. Man is the only animal who can go beyond nature, but he should go through nature, not cover nature. So I am not saying that that which is not natural is necessarily ugly.

What does lipstick stand for? It stands for giving a better look to lips and the whole face. To impress people in society and the clubs. But the question persists: Is this the only way? It is just like you are feeling very angry or disturbed but you don’t want to show it, as that may shatter your image. And you worry too much about your image. In such a situation, you put on an image that you think is perfect for being part of society. And others also think the same and hide the reality from you. So, it has become an unconscious habit that has created a very unhealthy society: The unhappy people pretending to be happy. The angry and violent people pretend to be compassionate and loving. This hypocrisy is actually the cause of so many psychological illnesses the modern society is suffering from. What we need to do is to meditate for deep cleansing within our being, get rid of all that is fake within us, and regain the inner wellness which is intrinsic and organic.

For this to happen, we have to breathe in some natural atmosphere, inhale the prana energy into our being and have a cathartic deep detox process, and flower into authentic and healthy human beings.  This would be a life of self-love and love towards others, an absolute harmony in society.  It is not something cosmetic but an inner transformation from within.

Swami Chaitanya Keerti, the author of Mindfulness: The Master Key