The Practice of Eye Gazing

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The simple act of looking into the eyes of another can change everything.

When eye contact between two people is initiated and maintained, an invisible energetic circuit is established between the two participants, dissolving the barriers that ordinarily separate them from each other, drawing them ever closer into a shared awareness of union. This experience of union is always pervaded by the feeling tone of love, just as the experience of separation from others, as well as from the larger world we inhabit, tends to breed feelings of fear and alienation. However, we live in a culture that worships the individual and that is embarrassed by joint forays into the Divine, into the great ground of being that is our heritage and true birthright as humans on this planet. In our culture, this most natural of actions, the holding of the gaze between two people, is taboo. And, yet, how tragic it is that we turn away from this heritage, forfeiting our birthright in an act of fear.

In the area of Vancouver Island on which I live, the elders of the Cowichan tribe speak of the “disease of the eye.” They describe this condition as what occurs when we’re walking down the road and avert our gaze when we pass by other humans instead of looking at them directly in the eye, acknowledging them as God’s noble creatures, seeing them and being seen by them. This act of aversion is seen as a turning away from a moment of grace and, ultimately, constitutes a turning away not just from the other person, but from ourselves as well, for the blessings of holding the gaze of other humans cure the disease of the eye and leave us feeling whole.

Isn’t it true that, if we happen to look into the eyes of a stranger at the same moment the stranger is looking into ours, we’ll usually avert our gaze? Our fear won’t permit us to maintain the contact that our interest in each other has spawned. By choosing fear in this way, we perpetuate our notions of separation and exclusion and continue on our way. If we’re able to look into another person’s eyes and hold his or her gaze, however, a whole other set of conclusions reveals itself. In just a few minutes’ time our conventional boundaries begin to soften, losing their hard edge of distinction and opacity. The energy fields of our bodies, which people with particularly sensitive vision can perceive as auras, slowly begin to merge, the one flowing into and out of the other.

Once this connection has been established, our communication deepens, and the feeling tone of the encounter begins to shift dramatically. Like two objects that have entered into a whirlpool and are together drawn down inexorably to its common source, our experiences of our personal self and of the other gradually merge and, at a very deep level, may even become indistinguishable. We enter into darshan together. Like iron filings being drawn to a powerful magnetic source, we experience ourselves as being ineluctably drawn closer to a shared feeling of union, relatedness, and love. Where formerly we were two separate beings, we join together through the practice and become something that neither of us could quite be on our own. When hydrogen comes into the presence of oxygen, suddenly there’s water. Likewise, through such a meeting, two people lose their sense of separateness and drown together in the waters of love and union.

Looking into another’s eyes and holding his or her eye gaze need not be just a pastime of schoolchildren or the privilege of new lovers or parents of newborns. It represents a practice capable of taking the participants to the deepest feelings and the purest awareness of self that are available to a human being. Some would call this pure awareness God, and down through the ages this practice has spontaneously appeared and reappeared wherever lovers of God, lovers of the ultimate source of their own being, have come together and truly met one another.

(Excerpted from Eye Gazing at the Beloved by Will Johnson)

The eyes are a window to the soul.

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