UNIT II. UNDERSTANDING

CONTENTS

1. Blindness
2. Refining sight
3. "Seeing"
4. Vision
5. Singlepointedness
6. Oneness, Self


Materials needed: journal, Tarot deck

Books needed:

The Art of Seeing (optional)
Yoga Journal, March/April, 1997


Practices and exercises:

1. Sight, Sayings and Images
2. Trance
3. Tarot
4. Reflection on a vision for Self



The element of the third chakra is sight. So we shall explore the potentials for spiritual growth in the act of seeing. When we understand something, perhaps after a struggle to put a number of disparate ideas together, we exultantly say, "I see!" We so often connect seeing and understanding that it might be productive to look for the link between them. But, first, let us start with seeing itself and its absence.

What is sight? The eye is often likened to a camera. Light comes in the lens and falls upon a screen (retina or film) in a pattern that reproduces the image. In the case of the retina, the image is upside down. In vision, the cells of the retina send impulses to the occipital cortex of the brain where the pattern of on-off signals is interpreted to yield a mental image of what is outside the person and in the line of sight. This is an extremely sophisticated process. So much so, that, by the time a child is two years old, s/he can store information in memory by using these mental images (Bruner & Olver, 1963). We literally create an entire replica of the outside world in our heads in the form of these interconnecting images. This is what enables us to drive around town, remember our friends, "see" the person we are talking to on the phone, remember our lessons for the exam, or find that lost book or set of keys. These images survive the test of time for the most part. A friend we have not seen for several years pays us an unexpected visit. But we recognize him when we open the door. Usually. Time does erode memory, but the success rate far exceeds what might be expected.

Blindness

"The eye goes blind when it only wants to see why." - Rumi

I have a friend who is functionally blind. She has enough peripheral vision to get around, but can no longer read or write. Because she is a natural scholar, this is a tragedy of the first order. What can be the use of such an infirmity? For we have agreed that all experience provides lessons for our benefit. Perhaps it is to induce her to go within to find the sustenance she needs. Or maybe it is to open up finer and more ecstatic vistas on other planes of consciousness.

What we do not see may be as important, if not more important than what we do see. For we have the remarkable faculty of screening out those things that threaten us or that we do not wish to deal with. It is called perceptual defense. It is like a self-induced blindness, one of the functions of ego, related to denial and primal repression. Let us take an example.

There is a person on Joe's Christmas card list he does not like very much right now because they had a disagreement. Suppose, when Joe send out his cards, he skips over his friend's name and address and so fails to send him a card. He literally did not see it. But it is not an accident that it was this friend's name he did not see. He simply did not wish his friend well at that moment and did not want to confront the conflict in order to resolve it. This is perceptual defense. It can occur on more serious levels too.

Suppose I am overawed by the prospect of going out into the world and earning my own living. I do not know what I want to do with my life and am afraid I will fail at whatever I seriously try to accomplish. This fear is not on the surface and I am not usually in touch with it. However, I contract a cold on the eve of one of my final exams in college and it manifests as an eye infection. Or I might come down with a blind, sick headache otherwise known as a migraine. I cannot study and, therefore, fail the exam. Sure, I can probably get a medical excuse and an opportunity to take the exam over again, but something in me is trying to get my attention. I have been "blindsided," so to speak.

There are numerous idioms in the language that testify to the importance of the metaphor of sight. There are blind curves, night blindness, blind spot, etc. Use of words related to sight indicates the fact that we are aware, on some level, of our perceptual defenses in these ways.

This discussion also brings up a serious question about what we want to have in our conscious awareness, and also what we want in our memories and unconscious awareness. You may have had the experience of seeing a particularly violent movie and finding that the images persist in your mind and keep surfacing when you least expect them. Disturbing, yes. Necessary, no. We have the choice of what to put into our minds and memories. Why not seek out beauty instead?

Exercise: Sight, Sayings and Images

1. Make a list of all the sayings you can think of that include references to seeing or vision. What do they tell you about the meaning of sight, and what do they tell you about your own processes of sight and selection? Have a friend do the same and compare lists. How do you account for the similarities and differences in the lists?

2. Now make a list of all the visual images you still have available of yesterday's activities. Run through what you can remember of that day beginning with awakening in the morning. What did you wear? What did you eat? Where did you go? What did you do? When your list is complete, consider what you selected to remember. Is there any pattern in it? Did you confuse yesterday's activities with today's? If so, what does this mean? When you relax to forget the exercise, see if other memories of yesterday surface when the pressure is off and add those to your list. They may have something special to tell you since they were previously not available to your memory.

Do not be disturbed if you do not seem to have a great many images. Some people prefer the auditory or kinesthetic modes of processing information. And you may be among those. If so, consider the possible value in trying to develop the visual mode more as a way of enriching your experience.

3. If you are having trouble with your eyes or just want to know more about the process of seeing, read Aldous Huxley's (1982) book, The Art of Seeing. This book is old, but it is useful because it is based on the interconnectedness of mind and body. Also, Huxley offers information and references to the Bates method of re-educating defective vision which can be used to correct such problems as myopia and other poor seeing habits. He also relates visual problems to behavioral and psychological causes which ophthalmologists do not often do.

I believe Deepak Chopra also offers some exercises to strengthen the eyes, but I am not familiar with the reference.

Refining Sight

. . as long as we are children of the earth, it is our sacred duty to refine these five senses with an absolute determination to master them before we become victims of them. . . Spiritually trained Indians and those who learn the secrets of self-mastery move on beyond the five senses into a daily recognition of the eternal and unseen as being as necessary to every human being as daily food. (David Villasenor quoted in Arguelles, 1985, p. 94)

Every one of the senses may be taken to a higher level. What is meant by this? Again we must enter the symbolic realm to understand. The individual sense is representative of a higher process that rests on the sense as a foundation and that is similar to it in the way it functions. We saw in Book II that taste when refined becomes discrimination because of the discernment properties they share. So what would sight become taken to a higher level? This is easy.

The first thing that may come to mind is insight. When we suddenly understand something, we say, "Oh, I see." It is seeing into the meaning of something. We know what the underlying meaning is or the meaning in common between several things or ideas. This is perception on a higher plane, but the process is similar to that of creating a perceptual image that we discussed earlier.

Understanding is another case in point though in a more general and less dramatic form than insight. When I understand something, I see deeply into what it really is, how it operates. And my understanding penetrates enough that, in many cases, I could replicate whatever it is. Usually we have to experience something personally in order to really understand it. Or we must learn how to do something by trial and error though sometimes we can learn by observation. In that case, we still need to practice it in order to truly master the process.

"Seeing"

"Seeing" is a word widely used for the ability to visualize or, in the case of mystics and Shamans, to visit other levels of reality or states of consciousness. It is also used to label the ability to see into the future or to prophesy. A third meaning is to be able to see something going on at another location, i.e., clairvoyance. When the phone rings and we know who is calling, that is a form of "seeing." The active imagination that Johnson (1986) refers to in Inner Work might be another form of "seeing" because it accesses the unconscious mind which is not normally available to us. We will look at several of these types of visualization to discover what they might have in common.

Trance

Trance is an altered state of consciousness in which the individuals are unaware of what is going on around them, but they "see" into another world. Their attention is focused on experience in another realm of existence or state of mind. Shamans go into trance in order to receive information and guidance for the healing of individuals and/or the group. Carlos Casteneda (1974) wrote extensively about his experiences while in a trance state. I remember that this book ended with his jumping off a butte or high mesa leaving the reader in a state of suspended concern for his life. It was years later before I realized that what he was describing was actually occurring in a trance state while his body was safely out of commission. That must be rather like the paralysis we experience while dreaming that keeps us from getting hurt.

Hypnotic trance differs. The individual is able to move around and may even be able to initiate behaviors while, at the same time, under the influence of the hypnotist. This can be very unpleasant if one wants to break out of the trance but cannot. This happened to me once when I left a group unaware that I was in a trance until I got home and discovered I was in some kind of a stupor, but could not come out of it. A walk in the woods did nothing to help. I finally slept it off.

Exercise: Trance

Read "Sing the Body Ecstatic!" by Kristin Barendsen in the Yoga Journal, March/April, 1997, pp. 92-99, 155-8, 166. She is writing about her experience with a workshop on Shamanic journeying. If you have a drumming tape or a friend with a rattle, you might want to try out some of these postures. The teacher, Felicitas Goodman, PhD bases them on ancient statues and art that appeared to her to be be ritual instructions. I think the Yoga Journal may beavailable on the Internet and perhaps in your local library if you do not have a copy handy.

Hallucinations

Hallucinations are usually very vivid, visual experiences of an extraordinary nature that happen to psychotics and sometimes drug abusers. It can be very difficult sometimes to distinguish whether the experience is due to a psychosis or is a genuine spiritual insight because both have some things in common. Rama, et al, (1981) discuss the difference between psychosis and mysticism. A psychosis results from the flooding of an underdeveloped ego with content from the unconscious. Emotions go haywire with severe anxiety, and the mind cannot be focused. There are massive feelings of groundlessness, loss of self-definition and a lack of center. The psychotic has descended into the world of nightmare and astral chaos. S/he swings wildly from pain to pleasure, and cannot control that either.

The mystic, on the other hand, has a functioning ego in the sense of being able to integrate the inner world with external demands. S/he accepts the changing of self-identification, releases habits when that is justified, has embraced a stance of non-attachment to the external world and his or her personality aspects. S/he enjoys a state of equanimity, is in touch with reality and has an enduring center.

The psychotic suffers, the mystic experiences joy. The psychotic has no identity, the mystic has a divine identity. The psychotic has hallucinations, the mystic may have visions. The latter is coherent, the former is not.

Hallucinations may also be part of a syndrome of physical illness. For example, individuals with some forms of multiple schlerosis may manifest them as may alcoholics and people with some forms of senility.

Prophecy

Prophecy is the ability to predict future events, to "see" into the future. Prophets have been with us from the beginning of history. Julian Jaynes (1976) suggested that prophecy was more prevalent in early Biblical, Greek and Roman eras because hemispheric dominance had not yet evolved. That meant that people could hear voices in their heads that came, apparently, from the right hemisphere. To my knowledge, this has not been empirically documented as a causal factor. However, it is an interesting idea.

Vivekananda (1976), in his book Jnana Yoga, points out that there is no such thing as time, space or causality. If this is indeed true and modern physicists would seem to bear him out, then there is no such thing as the future. All events are happening simultaneously, and our minds simply and arbitrarily string events out in a linear fashion so we can process them one at a time. Also, if it is true, then we all have access to both the future and the past; and, theoretically, in as much detail as we could stand. The implication is that if we get the intellectual mind out of the way we can tune in to any dimension of time we wish. And, in fact, Patanjali in his Sutras (Taimni, 1975) shows us how to develop the ability to do so.

Modern prophets may not be as visually inclined as those of yesteryear. The prophets of the Old Testament and St. John of the New Testament described their visions in detail. You might want to pick up the Bible and read some of them just to see for yourself. The book of Revelations is especially graced with symbolic imagery. It would be a challenge to try to decode that one.

A variation of this form of refined vision is precognition. This is "seeing" before something happens. It has the same form as prophecy without the religious overtones. And someone who is graced with this form of ESP must be cautioned not to get ego-involved in it because it is a gift of insight on the spiritual journey and is not meant to be exploited.

Clairvoyance

Clairvoyance is a form of extrasensory perception that comes, usually, when an individual has reached a certain stage of spiritual development although it sometimes appears spontaneously in people who are not yet prepared for it. There are others who have maintained the ability since childhood. It involves "seeing" something that is happening elsewhere, perhaps many miles away, that is going on simultaneously. There is nothing magical about clairvoyance. Most of us do not experience it because we have been taught that it is not possible. However, if we consider that space is another one of the creations of our minds, we can understand that it may be possible to transcend it and thus to know or see what is going on in another place at any given moment in time.

Divination

Divination is a projective technique. A projective technique makes use of symbols to access the unconscious mind. We take a (usually) ambiguous symbol and seek to interpret its meaning based on what we have in our unconscious mind. What makes it a valuable technique is that it bypasses the ego and enables us to access a message, or messages, from the Higher Self or from the psyche both of which hold a position of greater knowledge than our conscious minds can apprehend. The divinatory techniques use symbols for just this very reason. All we have to do is to learn how to relax, allow the process to open and then figure out how to interpret the coded messages. This is "seeing" into another dimension of consciousness rather than "seeing" something at another location.

Emperor Tarot CardLet us take an example from the Tarot (Smith & Waite, 1971). Look at this Emperor card from the Waite Tarot deck. In it you can see what appears to be a king sitting on a throne. The throne is adorned with ram's heads which is one of the reasons this card was selected. The animal in chakra three is the ram. The king has a bejeweled, golden crown with a cross on top of it. He is holding a golden scepter in the shape of an ankh in his right hand and a golden orb in his left hand. He is clothed in bluish silver armor covered by a red robe and a darker red mantle. His hair and beard are white. In the background are golden mountains and a small blue river.

All of these things have significant meanings both in the Tarot tradition and also for each of us in terms of our own personal symbol system. The armor indicates that the king is a warrior and is protected from injury. [We will look at another interpretation of warriorship in unit VII]. The armor's bluish color makes it divine or of divine origin, so that signifies that the king enjoys divine protection. The red robes indicate power and passion, good qualities to have on the spiritual journey. The golden color suggests something of great value. That is found in the crown which signifies the king's position of leadership and his divine appointment which is represented by the cross on top of the crown. It is also found in the ankh which is a symbol for life and the orb which is a symbol of domination over the world. These two artifacts are often paired in the hands of a monarch. The sceptor is phallic, held in the right (masculine) hand, and in connection with the ankh design suggests the seed of life. The orb held in the left (feminine) hand is a symbol of "mother" earth. The two images taken together represent the sacred marriage of masculine and feminine or of king and country.

The rams represent ego basically, but also power and persistence. Mountains are a traditional symbol for the spiritual journey. That they are golden reinforces this idea. The river stands for the water of life, or spirit. That the king is old indicates his great wisdom. The background is orange, the color worn by sannyasins or monks to indicate their renunciation.

Now that you know something of the symbols, you can include your own associations and see what the images mean to you.

Exercise: Tarot

1. In the description of the king above, who is the king? What part of you is the king? This question applies to women as well as men. A king is an archetype or pattern of energy that can and does manifest in the lives of all of us when circumstances are right for it to. So what part of you, what aspect of yourself is the king? Gender is not important here. The king stands for the ruler of your life. It could just as well be the queen except that kings generally have more power. Who or what sits on the throne of your life? And to what or who are you giving the power and authority over your life? If you have come up with the ego, please think very seriously about whether you want ego to have all this power and the consequences that might entail.

When you identify the king, go back to the descriptions of it and apply all of those to that part of you that you have identified. How do you feel about that? Have you selected the right part of yourself to empower?

2. Do one of the following:

a. If you have a Tarot deck, pick out the trump cards, which will be identified in the instructions, and lay them out according to one of the designated spreads. Using what you have learned from this unit, interpret them in terms of your present situation. Alternatively, you may use them to ask a question. However, before you consult the directions for interpretations, use your own meanings for the symbols. Each person has their own individual symbol system with unique meanings based on experience. The meanings given in your instructions will probably be entertaining, but they will not have as much personal significance for you as your own.

These cards have come to us from the Middle Ages or earlier and have important spiritual information coded into them. The directions that come with the cards are more likely to be "magical" or intended for entertainment. You can, however, learn how to discover the deeper meanings. One thing you might want to do is try to identify which ones of the cards represents archetypes. Perhaps they all do. What do you think? To help you with the deeper meanings that were originally intended, you could consult either of the following two texts:

Sadhu, Mouni. The Tarot. No. Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Book Co., 1978 (or later). (Mouni Sadhu's book is older, but he has extensive experience with the Hermetic tradition as well as the Jewish Kabbalah.)

Arrien, Angeles. The Tarot handbook: Practical applications of ancient visual symbols. Sonoma, CA: Arcus, 1987. (Angeles Arrien is an anthropologist and Basque Shaman, so she has a great deal of experience with the symbology of many different cultures. She teaches at The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and the Institute for Integral Studies. Both schools are in the San Francisco bay area.)

Summarize what you found out in your journal.

b. If you do not have access to a deck of Tarot cards, find a copy of Arrien's book mentioned above. If you cannot buy it, you may order it through interlibrary loan, and they will let you have it for a month.

Thumb through the book and select one or two cards that "speak" to you. Color plates follow page 255, and it would probably be advisable to begin with these, so you are not tempted to read the meanings she gives until after you have your own experience of them . Gaze at each of them for a while to see if some of the inherent meanings are revealed to you. Keep in mind that the approach should be intuitive rather than intellectual in order to access the deeper significances.

Then do some of the exercises Arrien has offered on pages 229-277. Make notes as you go along. You might want to copy some of the charts and/or exercise record sheets, for your own use. How well do you think the cards reveal your unconscious? How well do they represent the archetypes? Did you find the exercises helpful in understanding yourself better?

If you are working exclusively with this section #b, you should still consult your own meanings before you read the ones presented by Arrien, so that you are not tempted to overlook your own system or to deny it. It could be interesting to see how close your meanings come to the ones she offers.

Vision

On a still higher level, seeing can become visionary. We have already distinguished visions from hallucinations. Going beyond what has already been discussed, visions may occur in states of higher consciousness such as visions of the Virgin Mary or of God or other religious figures. There may be visions of Light, strange beings, shapes, objects, etc. that have a numinous quality going well beyond the ordinary experiences of normal daily life. We are now in the realm of archetypes. An archetype is a numinous biological or spiritual pattern or universal image in the collective unconscious that contains an essential meaning that shapes the dynamic components of the personality. They arise spontaneously out of the unconscious and because they are universal their symbolism is recognizable in all human beings. Some examples are: child, mother, king, soul, witch, teacher, anima, animus, etc.

It is important not to allow visions to distort our spiritual journey. There is always a temptation for the ego to latch on to these manifestations and boast of its own importance or progress on the path. To react to visions in this manner is a distortion of their purpose which is to encourage us on the journey. Visions fall into the class of psychic phenomenon (siddhis) that includes ESP, clairvoyance, precognition, etc. And all the great scriptures warn us against paying too much attention to any of them lest we "fall" or lose our direction.

It is far better to focus attention on what we might envision for ourselves and our spiritual commitments.

Out-of-Body Visions

As a followup on blindness and to connect that with the rest of this discussion, I have just come across notice of a monograph that is coming out this spring called Near Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind: A Study of Apparent Eyeless Vision (in press) by Kenneth Ring. This study of blind persons is able to show that even people who have been blind from birth can actually see and accurately report, during out-of-body and near-death experiences, visual details they had never before experienced. Furthermore, Ring (1998, p. 4) found that these blind persons

. . "saw" in a 360 arc. They could "see" behind themselves as well as in front. They also could attend to any focal depth in a perplexing simultaneous manner. They said they felt a "knowing" about the object, almost as if they were entering it while remaining outside.

Ring called this phenomenon "Mindsight" and also referred to it as "transcendent awareness." ". . he was dealing with an exceptional form of human awareness, a conscious perceptual ability not dependent on the body or physical system." (p.4)

If this study can be replicated, it will take sight well beyond the parameters of physicality. Swami Radha (1978, p. 131) once said, "The power that has created the eye can see." Now we "see" that this is so. And we may be moved also to consider: what is the power that makes it so?

Exercise: Reflection on a Vision for Self

Find a comfortable place to meditate and sit or lie down for a period of time long enough to relax and quiet the mind. Go within and allow your Higher Self to come forward in whatever form feels right to you. Greet It respectfully and inquire if It has anything to convey to you. If not, or whenever It is finished, ask for a vision of your direction and/or goal on the spiritual journey. Be open to whatever modality the Self may choose and allow enough time for the process to emerge. Humility and patience will open the doors to your heart, so It can come forward. Alternatively, you might ask for a vision of your Higher Self to gain an image you can use in your devotions. When you are finished, take your time coming back to normal sensations in order to give due respect to the numinous you have just encountered. It will help forestall ego involvement if you do not share this experience with others but keep it close to you in a sacred and holy manner.

Singlepointedness

"If, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." --Jesus

Jesus was a true master teacher. As such, he was able to teach on several levels at once. In fact, he often said things like, "Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?" (cf Mark 8:18) This means you must care enough to work to find out what something means. You have to dig deeper in order to gain the insight and understanding (refined sensory input, we could say) inherent in the message. In fact, many of the scriptural secrets are deliberately cast into obscure symbols or forms, so that the message is not corrupted by those who would not value it. Therefore, it should not surprise us that he makes a statement like the quote that begins this section. But what does it mean? Again, we must resort to symbols. What, in this case, does he mean by "eye?" by "single?" by "body?" and by "Light?" Let us see if we can translate.

Again, using our dream analysis method (Appendix B), look at the symbols and free-associate. For example:

Eye: something to see with, third eye, vision, "I," mind's eye, sight, seeing, etc.

Single: one, only one, without others, unmarried, singlepointed (i.e., focused), etc.

Body: physical form, my material self, whole group of something (as in a body of knowledge), basic form (as in automobile body), real Self, main part of something (as in the body of a paper), etc.

Light: Numinous energy, Divine Light, something that enables seeing, truth, godhead, spiritual energy, prana, Tao, Ground of Being, radiance, radiant energy, sun, etc.

You can add your own.

Now look at the quotation and substitute another meaning for those words from the list you have made. Here's what I get:

"If, therefore, my vision (goal) is singlepointed, my whole real Self will be full of Divine Light."

But what is singlepointedness? It means focused and without duality. Ekagra in Sanskrit means one-pointedness or singlepointedness. Eka means without duality, the three gunas in equilibrium. Hence, singlepointedness means focusing the attention on a single thing or goal. So now our statement becomes, "If, therefore, my vision (goal) is focused and without duality, my whole real Self will be full of Divine Light." You can, of course, run your own interpretations on this saying. But, for our present purposes, let us stay with the idea of singlepointedness and see where it leads.

Think of it in terms of the spiritual journey. If my goal is clear and if I persist in moving forward, ignoring all distractions from outside, I will eventually find myself cleansed of maya and identical with Divine Light. This is not a matter of just paying attention although that is an essential ingredient. I have to be willing to make it my life's work. I have to work on renunciation of the fruits of my labor (karma yoga), I have to wrestle with desires and all tendencies to conceive of the world in terms of dualities. I must cultivate humility, the willingness to learn new things. And I must purify myself by examining all my preconceptions and social conditioning. I must exercise my free will to choose only those activities and people who will support my journey. And I must care so much about my goal that I am willing to put everything and everyone else in second place. We are talking here about the valuing process, not narcissism. I must want Spirit and Home more than anything else in the world and be willing to sacrifice all my ego's agendas to attain It. This is a tall order, I admit. But nothing less will achieve that particular goal.

In principle, it is easy. Just let go of everything, of all attempts to control your reality. So easy to say, so difficult to do. Our egos have been in control for so long, they are not about to give it up just because we decide in a moment to do so. We can say that all the publications, all the teachings, all the teachers, all the workshops are touting the same thing, and that would be true. But, if it were so easy to do, we wouldn't need all this help. We'd just do it and be done.

Spiritual practices are designed to help us stay on the path and to focus our attention in the right direction. In the next unit, we will begin pratyahara exercises working with the breath to help us withdraw our senses. This is the next step in the eight rungs of Yoga and the first set that involves the mind rather than the body, per se. Meanwhile, keep in mind that focus is essential.

Oneness, Self

In the last guidebook we worked on self-image, the way we see ourselves. Self-image is a product of our experiences with others in the process of growing up. Ego is invested in keeping it intact. So, it is very difficult to change it even if it is negative. We also looked at the concept of individuation which means bringing all aspects of ourselves into wholeness. And there was a quotation from Johnson (1986, p. 40) that said our paths lead through the duality to a consciousness of oneness. We come to accept all the parts of ourselves in the spectrum of consciousness and to see ourselves as part of the whole.

In this unit, we have been exploring the idea of identifying with the godhead, the Absolute, Spirit, the Ultimate Reality. This means I am That I am. I learn through practice to see myself as The One, the Self. I am not just in union with It, which implies there are still two of us, but I am It. I am God. I am one of the parts of the body of God. And all these parts are interconnected and in communication: as in my physical body, my toes are not less than me, they are me. And, whether we like it or not, they are probably conscious given the work being done by Candace Pert (1987) and her colleagues.

One more thing. In many traditions and in a great many current workshops, we run across the idea of the (Higher) Self as being the Witness or Observer. This notion arises out of the fact that the Self is emotionless and detached in the sense of objectivity or renunciation of attachment and outcomes. Emotions are connected to ego as we shall see later on in this book. The Higher Self is above egoic concerns and is, therefore, serene and complete in ItSelf. Therefore, It is in a position to observe all we do, say and think in our everyday lives. If we accept that the Beloved is within and wishes to be manifested in our lives, we could take that to mean It wants to enjoy our experiences of being embodied. But the idea of It as an observer suggests that It participates somewhat vicariously. It sees, but It is not entangled in our games and machinations. An analogy is that our brains see that we have an ingrown toenail, but the experienced pain is in the toe, not in the brain, though some might differ with this as a fact. So it is in our lives. We have pain in our relationships, our work, our physical bodies, etc. But some part of us is still above and beyond it all, watching, watching, watching. Another, higher level "I."

Do you not think so?


References

Arguelles, Jose & Miriam. (1985). Mandala. Boston: Shambhala.

Arrien, A. (1987). The Tarot handbook: Practical applications of ancient visual symbols. Sonoma, CA: Arcus.

Barendson, Kristin. (1997). Sing the Body Ecstatic!" In Yoga Journal, March/April, pp. 92-99, 155-8, 166.

Bruner, J. S. & Olver, R. R. (1963). Development of equivalence transformations in children. In J. C. Wright & J. Kagan (Eds.), Basic cognitive processes, pp125-141. Lafayette: Child Development Publications, 28 (2).

Casteneda, C. (1974). Tales of power. New York: Pocket Books.

Huxley, A. (1982). The art of seeing. Berkeley: Creative Arts Book Co.

Jaynes, J. (1976). The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind. Boston: Houghteon Mifflin.

Jesus (1953). Mark 8:18. In The holy bible: Revised standard version. New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons.

Johnson, Robert A. (1986). Inner work: Using dreams & active imagination for personal growth. New York: HarperSanFrancisco.

Pert, C. (1987). Neuropeptides: The emotions and bodymind. Noetic Sciences Review, No. 2, Spring, 13-18.

Radha, S. (1978). Kundalini: Yoga for the West. Spokane, WA: Timeless Books.

Rama, S., Ballentine, R. & Alaya, S. (1976). Yoga and psychotherapy: The evolution of consciousness. Honesdale, PA: The Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy.

Ring, K. (1998). What's the William James Center up to these Days? Palo Alto, CA: Focus: The newsletter of The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 5 (4).

Ring, K. (1999). Near death and out-of-body experiences in the blind: A study of apparent eyeless vision. Palo Alto, CA: The William James Center for Consciousness Studies (in press).

Sadhu, M. (1978). The Tarot. No. Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Book Co.

Smith, P. C. & Waite, A. E. (1971) The Rider Tarot deck. New York: U. S. Games Systems, Inc.

Taimni, I. K. (1975). The science of Yoga: The Yoga-sutras of Patanjali in Sanskrit with transliteration in Roman, translation in English and commentary. Wheaton, IL: The theosophical Publishing House.

Vivekananda, S. (1976). Jnana yoga. Hollywood, CA: Vedanta Press.


In this Unit II. Knowing, we have seen how the function of sight is a perception that exists on many levels of consciousness. Its operations range from perceptual defense to ecstatic visions of divine realities. We have noted that it can be refined through practice and experience to a point where it can participate in the spiritual journey helping us to keep on track to the goal of enlightenment or Self-realization. What we see, or think we see, is a major factor in how we react. This fact underlines the importance of interpretation. In the next unit, Unit III. Development of Intellect and the Blocking of Consciousness, we will explore the role of the mind in interpretation of what experience means.


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