Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gazing At The Beloved

May your heart communion (salaat) be such that as if you are gazing upon your Lord, for even if you do not see Him, (behold well this consciousness that) He sees you.

- Sacred tradition of Islam

Just as archers fix their gaze upon a distant target before loosing the strings of their bows and sending their arrows flying, so do lovers of God fix their gaze on the face of God, each releasing the soul so it too can fly toward its target where it celebrates its homecoming. All spiritual paths teach us that if we want to find God, then we need to turn directly toward God, come face-to-face with the energies of the Divine, and then surrender to whatever begins to occur as a result of the impact that such an encounter creates in our lives. But where do we turn? And where exactly is it that we find the face of the Divine? Is it everywhere? Or in one particular location only? And can perhaps a particular location, a particular face, serve as the doorway to the face of God?

The practice (of gazing) can be found in the Greek Orthodox Church where icons of saints and personages from the Bible are the only companions that monks and nuns take with them into the isolation of their cells during long periods of retreat. (In shadhuli sufi path and other, there is a practice of gazing upon the pure name of God, Allah in Arabic used in khalwa or sufi retreats).

When one fixes his or her entire attention on these images over long hours and days, the images may come to life and enter into animated dialogue with the practitioner. Many devout Hindus create personal shrines in their homes and temples in which images of a god or goddess serve as the means for personal dialogue with the Divine. It is said that the eyes of these images are the most important of all the facial features, for by creating eye contact with the image a devotee achieves darshan, a sanskrit word meaning "seeing and being seen by God."

Most of our spiritual traditions tell us that, as humans, we are miniature reflections of God and that we have been created in God's image. If this is so, then it would follow that a more direct way to look upon the face of God would be to sit and gaze at an actual person, a real flesh-and-blood human. If he or she will sit and hold your gaze in return, something begins to transpire between the two of you. If you can truly see another and be seen by the other, you begin to see that he or she is an embodiment of the Divine, and you begin to feel that you are as well.

In India, darshan often occurs in formal settings between teachers and their students. Teachers may sit at the front of a room, perhaps on a slightly raised dais so that no one's view will be obstructed. They may sit silently, pouring out their gazing, inviting students to meet their eyes and to hold contact with their gaze. This contact allows the Divine to enter their students' awareness. In the words of Ramana Maharshi, one of the great Indian teachers of the twentieth century and one of the great givers of darshan, "When the eyes of the student meet the gaze of the teacher, words of instruction are no longer necessary." (Reminds us of the famous sermon of Buddha in which he silently held up a flower and gazed at it. After a while, one of the companions present, a monk called Mahakasyapa, began to smile, for his gaze also fell upon that of Buddha and what is upon Buddha's hand, that simple flower. Out of all hundreds of monk present, Mahakasyapa was the only one who had understood the sermon. That smile or realisation was handed down by successive masters which much later came to be know as the origin of Zen.)

Because the eyes are universally acknowledged to be the windows to the soul, when we hold the gaze of another, we hold and cradle his or her soul. This most intimate of acts is reserved as a privilege for people who love and trust one another. Newborn children are natural adepts at the practice and are often able to draw their parents into gazing at them for long periods of time. People newly in love may find that they automatically fall into gazing at each other as a natural expression of the love that they feel. In fact, this unintentional and spontaneous dissolving into the eyes of the other is often the signal that, at long last, they have finally found the beloved for whom they've been searching. When describing this new found love, people will often rejoice that, finally, they have met someone who truly sees them as they are.

When eye contact between two people is initiated and maintained, an invisible energetic circuit is established between the two participants, dissolving the barriers that ordinarily separate them from each other, drawing them ever closer into a shared awareness of union.

The most extraordinary account of the practice of eye gazing can be traced to the meeting that occurred in Konya, Turkey, in 1244 between the renowned poet, Sufi teacher, and originator of the dance of the whirling dervish, Jalaluddin Rumi, and a wandering seeker named Shams-i Tabriz. Out of the explosion that occurred through Rumi's encounter with Shams, Rumi began spontaneously writing some of the most splendorous poetry about the soul's return to God that has ever been composed, and his writings are voluminous.

Some mysteries are like puzzles or riddles that the discerning eye and mind can recognize, unravel, piece together, and then solve. Other mysteries (as the mystery of dying into love) are simply to be entered into, marveled over, and surrendered to with no hope whatsoever of ever conquering or solving them. In fact, the only way of truly understanding such a mystery is instead through letting ourselves be completely conquered and dissolved by it.

- from Gazing At The Beloved by Will Johnson

All that is on the planetary existence shall perish:
but will abide (forever) the Face of thy Lord, full of Majesty and Glory.
- The Quran 55:26-27

# Further.
. The Hadith of Gabriel
. Embodiment Training by Will Johnson
. The Ninefold Path of Embodiment
. The Name Allah | The Name Allah (animated gif)
. The Spiritual Practices of Rumi: Radical Techniques for Beholding the Divine | book review
. Gazing
. Gazing On The Beauty Of The Lord
Healing through Eye Gazing

# Previous Posts on MysticSaint
. Blessed Glance as Sacred Practice
. Al Baseer, the All Seeing One
. Look Who is Looking
. Manifestation of Divine Attributes | on seeing and realizing
. Divine is the All Seeing
. You are In Divine Eyes: Meditative Quranic verse
. Meditation on Divine Glance Pin It Now!