One of the really great things about being on a spiritual path is that you get to eat crow really often. A few days ago, I wrote and published a scathing article talking about monster houses and other things, my dad, Andy Oddstad among them. (My dad built houses, but not monster houses.)
How scathing? I spoke of the “McMansions littering our hillsides” and hoped that the home in which I grew up “doesn’t get transformed into an ostentatious edifice fit for pseudo-royalty.” I closed with an indictment of modern capitalism: “Today, companies are about marketing position and branding, about the “USPs”–unique selling propositions––magic words to charm the consumer into buying an illusion that she can’t afford and doesn’t need.”
Those words scathe effectively.
A TRUE MONSTER HOUSE: The Palace of Versailles was home to Actual Royalty. I’m illustrating this post with photos the prototypical Monster House, elegant in every way, full of pretension––I mean, if you think you’re God, you could live in this house with a straight face––and the best of everything. It differs from modern monster houses in that its real, way upscale, and conforms to the principles of design, listed down below.
Only a few hours after posting my position statement on large houses and the contemporary practice of flashing every dime you’ve got, I went to a social function at a home that can be described as plu-perfect, and huge. A monster house, by size, anyways. Oops.
I wandered around the edifice, marveling at the workmanship, the 3 ” thick marble counters, wood floors, plaster finishes, gorgeous fenestration (windows), views of the Pacific Ocean from every window. Sweeping panoramas of the City of Santa Barbara, offshore islands, gardens. Everything.
This was the most beautiful home I’d ever seen, and a monster house. I’d never want to own it: I couldn’t afford the gardener, much less the utility bills. But, wow. And what a spiritual feeling about the place.
Plus the owners were really nice, humble, kind people.
Never underestimate the value of nice landscaping in increasing property values. Look what it did for Versailles!
My cheeks burned and I felt that inevitable, “I blew it,” walking around that beautiful place. So what’s wrong with this picture? First off, my original mind set was that big equals evil. Big is just big. And wealth is OK. Better than OK. Where’s the wisdom in this experience?
I immediately thought of the four goals of life. You know them:
- Dharma: righteousness
- Artha: wealth
- Kama: pleasure
- Moksha: liberation
These are straight from the Guru Gita, an ancient Vedic text. Other philosophic systems will have different goals, but I like the simplicity of the four above.
Dharma refers to living a spotless life by whatever moral system you espouse.
Artha––well, we all know what wealth means. Pile it on. My mom had a great poster in her house: A southern mansion with the line, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” That’s easy.
Kama––kama as in kama sutra. Pleasure. Better far better life goal than pain. Pain comes on its own.
And Moksha––liberation. Means liberation from the wheel of life, attainable by union with God.
The King’s Bedroom at Versailles: With the right karma, you could sleep here. Of course, it didn’t do much for Louis XVI.
The magnificent edifice I wandered into after my rant about monster houses was the fruit of a life well lived. The individuals owning the house had all four goals, in spades. The wealth one, artha, very obviously. And humility.
Versailles, Beautiful, Ornate, Over the Top. Sparked a revolution.
The difference between a monster house and a very large and beautiful house rests in the five principles of design:
- And one other, which I forget. Let’s call it taste, or beauty.
- Oh––rhythm. Remembered it.
I’ll discuss those principles in a later post. Here’s a link to an article about the importance of beauty in book cover design. Says it very well: Lewis Agrell’s Article About Book Covers.
Sandy Nathan is the winner of seventeen national awards, in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.
Her books are: (Click link for more information)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money
Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could
Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice
Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with a late (very late) 2011 publication date, or early 2012. If you liked The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit