Your eyes have so many things they could focus on that it’s actually funny that we think we see at all. I could put a video camera on your head and film every direction your eyes looked, then I could look at the video and discuss literally thousands of things that you couldn’t–because you never saw them. And remember, this is things you looked right at. So maybe you shouldn’t get so angry at referees….
Why can I see so much more than you? Because you have selective senses. You tend to tune down your sense of taste, smell or touch, but while your eyes are fully on, unlike the camera, your mind filters all you see into what you see.
Imagine a large gathering of people. You’re meeting a friend there and they are somewhere random, inside that big group. You would walk up and start looking for their jacket, or maybe their hair. So every person before you suddenly just becomes their hair or their jacket.
Unlike me looking at the video later, you can’t tell me what every single person’s eyeglasses looked like or even if they had any. Nor can you tell me if they had a date. Or how old they roughly are. That’s because you were busy looking for hair or a particular jacket. You weren’t seeing; you were looking.
Later, with the ability to freeze time, I can become like a unidirectional God who can see everything–but only from the extremely limited perspective of one point of among billions in the spherical 360 degrees that surround the subject.
My having to freeze time to see all that means that while I was using my now to look at that part of the past, you’d be seeing something happening in the actual present. So you can have now or you can have more, but you can’t have both. Your mind very necessarily needs to filter most of those details so that you can even be a person. The opposite is something like Autism, where filtering is a challenge.
What do you see? Amazingly, if you’re in a thinking state of ego you’ll see what your mind is talking about, not what’s there. Remember, you have billions of choices and yet if you’re grumpy all you’ll notice is more things you don’t like. Likewise with things you do like. Your mind sees, not your eyes. Keep your mind clean. Keep it quiet. Let it be present.
In an enlightened state, you can still only have an essentially human perspective. But without the filters of thought you move through the world not through expectation, but rather through noticing. Things occur to you. This is seeing with wisdom. In that state of mind you notice very valuable and pertinent things. Half the time you won’t even know why, but if there were no mysteries for you still to solve what would be the point of living?
In today’s meditation your job is to see, rather than look. Rather than talking to your classmate or coworker or family member as those labels, see them in the present moment. Notice something about them that you have never ever noticed before. If you’re into fashion don’t choose fashion, and likewise for anything else; no optometrists looking at glasses or dentists looking at teeth etc,.
Notice they have no earlobes, or that their haircut is like another friend’s, or that their eyes are two different colours, or that they’re standing with their weight all on one leg. If you’re in a room, look at the logos for each company carefully for the trademark symbol. See what the pattern is on the actual stitching for the carpet. Take a look at every single icon on your computer desktop.
You’ll likely be terrible at this. You’ll nail it a few times and then forget to truly be present for long chunks of time, and then you’ll realise it and shift back–but that’s okay. During the day, if you’re earnest, you should get better and better. End the day by going into your own bathroom and stare at yourself in the mirror and literally don’t look away until you see something that surprises you. That might take 20 minutes. You’re worth it.
Your mind filters your world. The definition of you is created by the persectives created by those filters. You can’t get past the filters and have a human experience, but you can remember that they’re not reality. And that’s what creates the peace within you. Because you can’t know if anything’s truly good or bad if you’re the only person filtering that particular sliver of reality. Everyone else’s slivers count too. So you can relax your judgments and just be. And that’s perfect, because that state is called peace of mind. Congratulations.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.