“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” — Matthew 6:22-23
If the nose is for breathing, then what is the eye for? The eye is for seeing, for observing, for awareness. Within the eyes lies the portal into the human soul, through the pupil.
The eyes hold the key to actualizing human potential. Human potential is actualized in whatever direction we direct our attention. Our attention is limited, let’s say, to 100 units, 100%. If one spends 100% or 50% of time in meaningless distractions or dissatisfying work, there is 0% or 50% left to conduct spiritual or soul work, pursuing creativity, pursuing meaning. If, instead, one spends 60% or 80% or 100% of time engaged towards a personal hobby, creative pursuit, or dream, then we can actualize that dream or art.
Becoming the master of our own craft(s) is simply a matter of applied attention. Similarly, the quality of relationships with others, with children raised, is also a matter of engaged attention to the child, or friend, or whatever relationship we have. Further, this includes the attention we put to our own internal thoughts, workings, emotions; this is Shadow work, facing and integrating our internal darkness, the resentments and anger we might hold deep within, to ourselves or to others. Anything I wish to do, then, whether that be inward introspection and Shadow work, or outward engagement and understanding, hinges entirely upon what I do with my eyes.
These, among others, are lessons I take from symbols, the Bible, and my own life’s experiences.
The Eye of Providence
I believe that the reason the eye is such an important symbol in the United States and Masonry, being at the top of the pyramid on the $1 bill, is because the human eye is the key to manifesting energy into the world, manifesting God from within. On the dollar bill, the eye is sitting in a triangle–symbolic of the Christian Trinity, unity of consciousness. This suggests to me that the forefathers of the United States’ Constitution, Masons in some form, knew the importance of the eye for human well-being, a functioning civilized and polite society, and for finding meaning and purpose. Given the monopolization of human attention occurring through advertising everywhere in Western society, the sacredness of the eyes is seemingly being lost.
The Egyptians, similarly, held the eye to be of supreme importance to being human. As opposed to the Masonic Eye of Providence, Egyptians represented this in the Eye of Horus, as well as the Eye of Ra.
Over the course of the last two years I’ve started to notice how my attention, where my eyes gaze, has had tangible effects on myself. When I stare at someone, into their eyes, I have noticed that I can listen attentively to what they say and remember a good amount of what was said–or at least the more important parts. In this light, I can keep the conversation going by asking follow up questions or reflecting on what was said better, thus being a more caring and compassionate person through this act. Given the poor habits developed over my childhood, staring into others’ eyes does not come naturally and must be forced, redeveloped.
In contrast, I have also spent a great deal of my life not staring at anything or anyone; instead staring at a computer screen most of all, but also blank walls or lost in the recesses of my mind. When I do not stare at people, it is as though they do not exist. Therefore, when I am having a conversation with someone the effects of not staring into the eyes have real consequences. When someone else is talking and I stare off into the distance or glance to and fro, I lose the connection with that person’s words, get lost in thought, and often don’t remember much, or any, of what they say. Because the lack of eye contact means disengagement, I find myself incapable of keeping the conversation going by asking follow-up questions or reflecting on what the person said; it is as though I don’t even understand or hear what the person is saying.
Eyes of Creation
When I have engaged in tasks for prolonged periods of time, such as building my garden, I have been able to manifest seemingly whatever reality I wished to manifest. When I started creating my garden, I doubted I could accomplish much of anything. Yet, the longer I engaged in this for continuous periods of time, the reality I wanted to create occurred exactly how I wished. Engagement, to me, means complete attention to a task, which begins with the gaze.
Working on my garden was not easy and I do not have a green thumb by nature–there is no evidence that a green thumb even exists as a real concept. While working on my project, I often battled internal Shadow thoughts of anger or resentment and doubts of ability that kept me inside or discouraged me from continuing. The lesson I take from this in my life, however, is that I am capable of doing things I never dreamed were possible when I spend enough time doing them. Although I point to the garden in this case, I believe that anyone can achieve anything in any task we wish with enough attention. Exercising creativity, and eventual mastery, is simply a matter of practice I proved to myself. Should I want to be a painter, a writer, a landscape designer, a caring father or anything else, I have only to direct enough attention to the task at hand.
Although science may still be catching up on this idea, this research would seem to indicate that directed attention may be acting as a kind of manipulation of quantum reality, manifesting waveforms from mind into particle matter.
The Evil Eye
“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” — Matthew 5: 28-29
This saying of Jesus suggests that there may be real consequences in how humans look at someone. It suggests to me that how we look at someone affects humans in conversation through emotions or thoughts, our hearts. This would seem common sense to me now that I read it: that if I stare at a woman’s body lustily, I would desire that more; if I stare endlessly at items, wealth, material things, advertising, I would desire those more.
Similarly, a concept which exists cross-culturally is that of the Evil Eye, which refers to a widespread belief that humans are capable of manifesting harm through our eyes. Many cultures, from Judaism to Arab cultures and far beyond, assert that we can conduct sorcery, the magic power of directed thoughts and intent, a curse unto others, through the way we glance at someone. This is an interesting idea, and it along with various teachings of Jesus get to the eye being far more complex and interconnected to our brain than modern society would seem to realize.
In some sense, the eyes betray our underlying motives, intentions, desires, or emotions. This has been certainly true in my life, such that when I look at someone I detect emotions, feelings, or other things about someone which resonate on a personally profound emotional level. Sight allows me connect with someone else’s emotions, which at times can be seen as coming from a place of love or hate through an innate feeling we feel. Certain emotions, I have found, are better to be Not looking into eyes during conversation means I am beholden to my thinking, and lost that emotional understanding. The Evil Eye, far from being just a mere superstitious legend, suggests that others can know whether we are sending love or hate towards them; perhaps consciously, but certainly unconsciously through intuition.
In contrast, the Evil Eye also suggests that we can manifest love into someone’s life if we look at someone with positive intention. This is a transformative idea for me, as it suggests something very real which can be done to impact others in some small manner–especially those of our society most disaffected or disillusioned. Among the most disconnected are homeless, veterans, and many men who feel as outcasts, misunderstood and isolated. Staring at people most disengaged from society, then, can create powerful effects. With someone who is homeless for example, I often struggle to look that person in the eye; yet such fellow humans are most in need of caring and kind eye contact. An earnest smile looking into someone’s pupils can send love to that person and resonate far beyond that one encounter.
Symbolically, the Evil Eye reminds me of the Eye of Sauron, a gaze of darkness that controls anyone it sees within its domain.
As well consider cats, which seem so selfishly oriented; humans as their pets and them as masters. Cats’ eyes remind me of the Evil Eye concept as well. Interestingly, their eyes look similar to that of the Eye of Sauron in orientation of the pupil.
Eyes on the Algorithm
The consumerist system of control through advertising hinges upon human attention. The internet and TV, far from being free, hinge upon humans attentively considering advertisements, much to our psychological control and detriment as we are led to buy prodigious amounts of endless junk. In 70 years, with our country and world heading towards eventual enslavement in the Matrix of combined consumerism and technology, my wild imagination dreams that humanity may similarly veer away from the crash course we are heading towards. Perhaps one day the internet and TV, and whatever controlling form of advertising comes next, will be truly free to use and these forms of technology can be tools rather than means of population control through consumerism and indentured servitude to the dollar.
Our system of advertising has reached its most capable form through algorithms. Algorithms function by developing psychological profiles of people who watch a certain TV show or through one’s internet browsing history. In so doing, advertisers know to pay for ad space in a certain show likely to be seen by a specific group of people. In terms of the internet, algorithms track one’s movements on the internet to show you ads or search results leading to consumer products it knows you are likely to need or want to buy. Unfortunately I wish this were a conspiracy, but alas it is not. This is how the internet and television remain “free.” One interesting addendum to this is that advertising will soon pervade the once private home life in every imaginable manner, through smart devices.
Algorithms, beyond being tools for advertising, can consume human attention by keeping people in a loop. Because many app and social media companies only make money if we use their products, they are incentivized to keep us as pawns enthralled in their sweet, tempting embrace. While spending time immersed in apps and social media, we are disconnected further from fellow humans. Further, we cannot actualize creativity when stuck in such a loop, but rather continuously consume what is often mindless pleasure and meaningless information.
Perhaps advertising and algorithms are a literal manifestation of the Eye of Sauron, keeping us entrapped in desire for material things and increasingly disconnected from fellow humans in the process.
All this being said, it may be common sense that we manifest our reality through our gaze. I believe we manifest love into and from others, and manifest whatever creative pursuit we wish to through continuous, directed attention. Yet, the importance of eyesight is not something reinforced as heavily as it perhaps should be among children who have to be taught proper use of the senses, or adults who never learned this skill or which have let this good habit slip, like I have.
When we look at others’ eyes with right intention, I suspect it is possible to connect with that person on a deeper level of mutual understanding. Thus, anyone can effect positive changes on the world by staring with care and love into someone else’s eyes. If that person is isolated or suffering, such eye contact may be all the more powerful and transformative. Or, if we misuse the eyes, it can be destructive to others or to ourselves.
The main lesson that I take is that eye contact is something important to encourage in myself and everyone in society, particularly children. Another is that appropriate eye contact, not staring intent with desire or ill will in our hearts, seems fundamental to instilling a heavenly state of mind. The gaze, then, may be a helpful tool for mental well-being, and is certainly a skill I seek to cultivate further on my Hero’s Journey.
In closing, it not only matters what we look at, but how we judge or react or perceive that which we look at. If we look with right intent, as Buddhists might say, then perhaps I manifest good. If I look with judgment, instead, then perhaps one manifests ill into the world. Intent, more than anything else, seems to matter in how the eyes’ power are used.