Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Seeing with the Inner Eye

In the Peace Column of the Catholic Peace Weekly  a college professor discovers that as the corona virus situation prolongs she speaks less. If not really necessary she refrains from speaking and does not talk on her hand phone unless alone when she can take off her mask.
Instead, the gaze seems to have become a little richer. She looks at people and things more closely than before. In particular, she looks, unknowingly, deeper into the eyes of the person she meets. The only thing that can be seen from the masked face is the eyes, so there is no other way. It made her reflect at great length very naturally on the meaning of what is seen.
The eye is the most complex of human sense organs.
Since ancient times, the eyes have been regarded as windows to convey thoughts and emotions. That's why it was called 'the window of the heart'. Modern neuroscientists say that "we see with the brain, not with the eyes." That means the eye is a cognitive organ. The Eastern Orthodox icon is painted with the eyes large and the mouth relatively small, without exception. It makes us understand the spiritual dimension given to the eye.
This complex function of the eye is defined by the scientist and Christian theologian Teilhard de Chardin as the core of life activities. "One could say that the whole of life lies in seeing — if not ultimately, at least essentially... But unity grows, and we will affirm this again, only if it is supported by an increase of consciousness, of vision."
If so how do we go about seeing? And how to synthesize what you see and reflect it in life? The answer is found in the words of Pope St. John XXIII from the Latin: "See all, overlook much, correct little" (Omnia videre, multa dissimulare, pauca corrigere).
Human biological vision is very limited. Therefore, 'seeing all' will not mean seeing all or seeing a lot. It may mean to adjust the direction of one's thoughts by taking a closer look and to uncover what is not visible. In short, it means a deep insight into people and things: expanding our gaze to the essence of life hidden beyond the phenomenon.
For the ancient Greeks, education was fundamentally the development of a good way to see. Plato presupposed that every soul can learn the truth and the eyes to see it. Education was to help them turn their attention in the direction of the original strength of vision they once possessed.
"Education is to turn the whole soul's direction away from this world of change so that the eyes of the soul can finally see the reality and see with the best of light what we call the good."
If so, seeing properly is discerning the good in our daily lives and going one step further to practice the good. Of course, this kind of gaze is not acquired overnight. As with any proficiency, learning to see properly requires patience, hard work, and repetitive learning. There is always something else behind all phenomena.
Behind the clean office is the person who cleaned it. Behind the box delivered at the door is a courier driver who brought it. Behind the fruit on the table is a farmer who shed tears during last summer's typhoon. Is this not the starting point of learning, to encourage ourselves to see 'the other side—beyond' in our daily life? If we have the desire and intention it is possible.

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