Seeing with the Divine Eye
by Brian C. Taylor
WHEN WE SIT IN SILENCE and observe whatever is going on within and around us, whether formally or in the course of our day, we make a subtle but important shift: we observe the phenomenon from a somewhat detached perspective, rather than seeing everything from within it.
Sitting in silence, as a gripping concern arises, we watch the thoughts and bodily tensions that accompany this concern. Watching what is going on, we are like an outside observer who sees what is happening. Watching ourselves, we are also aware of sitting in God's presence. We may feel the storm of our personal drama but we also have a view beyond it into the infinite goodness and clarity of God.
Because we are looking at ourselves from a more detached perspective, we are not the slave of what we experience. Whatever is going on is merely something that is temporarily passing through us, and the observer, or the true self in God, is witnessing it as it passes through our consciousness.
Since the true self in God is unchangeable, unconditionally accepting, and at peace, the gripping concern is seen within the clear blue sky of awareness. We may feel the storm, but we are also experiencing the bigger picture which includes the calm. We are not making an egocentric effort to rise above the storm into the clarity of peace, but rather we are saying "Yes" to the storm as it runs its course, even as our peripheral vision includes God's presence. Our perspective in contemplation moves from being caught up in the storm to seeing everything at once.
This perspective is, I think, what Meister Eckhart was describing when he said:
The eye by which I see God is the same as the eye by which God sees me. My eye and God's eye are one and the same -- one in seeing, one in knowing, and one in loving.1
The observer who sees and embraces all is not only our true self, but God's Spirit within us. Our ability to see with unconditional acceptance and peace is nothing less than God's Spirit seeing through our eyes. Our true nature and God's nature are one.
And so contemplation does not remove us from undesirable states of mind or emotion; it broadens our perspective so that whatever is going on is seen with the divine eye of the Spirit within, and all is known to be contained in the infinite peace and clarity of God.
1 From the sermon, 'Distinctions are Lost in God' in Meister Eckhart: A Modern Translation, trans. Raymond B. Blakney (New York: Harper & Row, 1941), p. 206.
Taken from Becoming Christ: Transformation Through Contemplation by Brian C. Taylor (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, copyright © 2002), pp. 216-7.