EYE IN SACRED TRADITIONS
Eye, the instrument of vision, observation and act of seeing is no doubt one of the most precious gift of the Creator. A marvel among His marvelous Signs; all praise, delight and glory belongs to Him. Various sacred traditions have teachings around the eyes, the right conduct and etiquette of the eyes, how to preserve and guard it. Looking with the eyes in the right manner, the practice of gazing straight, observing with attention, seeing the Signs on earth and in cosmos, seeing with single and unified vision, watching with the eyes and learning to see with the eyes of the heart - are some of the themes we find across many sacred traditions.
Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you
Watch the path of your feet,
And all your ways will be established..
~ Proverbs 4:25
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. ~ Psalm 13:2-3
Among the teachings of Jesus Christ, may peace be upon his soul, eye holds a central place, so much so that he calls it the lamp of the body. He goes on to say if eye is pure, wholesome, uncorrupted - this will enable the entire being to be filled with Nur, Divine Light, whereas if the eye is tainted, corrupt, looks with lust and transgression then the entire body become devoid of light and since it is Nur or divine light, the absence of it, he calls it, a massive darkness.
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is pure, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
~ Matthew 6:22-23
The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.
~ Luke 11:34-36
In the Gospel narrated on the authority of Matthew and Luke as mentioned above, Christ clearly points out the most important doorway of the body. He calls eye as lamp for through it we can see, glance, observe, watch, witness and hence we receive the light of knowledge, the illumination of gnosis. Purity in Abrahamic tradition is not only about the physical purity, a spiritual teacher when he teaches, its not only about literal matters; it is spiritual purity and in the context of Jewish Law and Law of Moses and Abraham - this is about not using the eye for inappropriate manners.
The Sacred Law is of paramount importance because those who have faith in Supreme Almighty God, the acknowledgement of God's Supreme Authority and Supreme Lordship is only through acceptance and observing to God's Law as brought and communicated by the Messengers. Jesus was living in the age of the Law of Moses and his teachings often is a renewal and fresh reminder of those Laws.
In connection with the eye and how Christ was very much mindful of the Law of the Holy Scripture, the following passage is useful to read and this is the holy teacher himself speaking,
“You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you sin, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you sin, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”
This is Gospel on the authority of Matthew 5:27-30
The above shows the absolute seriousness in his teachings, in fact this is one of the most fierce moment in the recorded history of the Canonical Gospels where Christ is full of blazing truth, the uncompromising and whole truth.
Here again we see Christ speaks of the role of eye and its clear that he is teaching us that a holy life must have eyes which are preserved from lust, from other actions / imagery of negativity.
On the same subject of preserving the sanctity of the faculty of vision, the Quran commands the following:
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do. - The Quran, 24:30And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent... 24:31
An eye is meant to see things.
The soul is here for its own joy.
A head has one use: For loving a true love.
Feet: To chase after.
Love is for vanishing into the sky. The mind,
for learning what men have done and tried to do.
Mysteries are not to be solved: The eye goes blind
when it only wants to see why.
A lover is always accused of something.
But when he finds his love, whatever was lost
in the looking comes back completely changed.
- Rumi, Night and Sleep (Translation by Robert Bly)
ALBERT BANDURA'S BOBO DOLL EXPERIMENT
Some say that eye is the window to the soul. On a very basic level from our early days into the world, we see through the eyes; our grasp of reality, almost all of our observation and pictures of the world is formed by the eyes. This world of appearance is a world of form and pictures, thus eye play a central role in producing who we are. Some wise even say what we see through the eyes also have direct impact on the spiritual heart, hinting which Christ said what goes through the eyes is responsible to make our inner world either illumined or dark.
Now in the field of psychology a famous experiment was done by psychologist Albert Bandura who is also the originator of the social learning theory. This experiment, conducted in 1961, is famously known as Bobo Doll experiment. The idea behind the experiment was simple.About 72 children of age between 3.5 years to 6 years were organized in groups and they were exposed to both aggressive and non-aggressive model. Basically an adult came in and hit and punched the bob toll and using a toy mallet hit the Bobo doll in the face. The aggressive model also verbally assaulted the Bob Doll by yelling "Sock Him", "Him him down", "Kick him", "Thrown him in the air." etc.
In the non-aggressive model the adult simply played with the Bobo doll. Then after exposure to these two kind of behavior they were allowed to play with the Bobo Doll. It was found that the children exposed to aggressive model were influenced much to act aggressively.
Children who observed the aggressive models made far more imitative aggressive responses than those who were in the non-aggressive or control groups. Boys were more likely to imitate same-sex models than girls. Boys imitated more physically aggressive acts than girls. There was little difference in the verbal aggression between boys and girls.
+ Those who are interested may continue reading more about Bandura's Bobo Doll experiment here.
According to the social learning theory it is quite clear (based on conclusive evidences) that learning is a cognitive process that places in a social context and can occur purely through observation or direct instruction, even in the absence of motor reproduction or direct reinforcement. Observation or seeing is a very important tool for learning. Learning through observation can happen via live model, verbal instruction or symbolic fictional characters as well.
+ You may watch a short video (5 min) by BBC via Youtube summarizing the Bobo Doll experiment
Now going back to the subject of what Christ was teaching and transmitting to us. "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is pure, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness."
The above Bandura experiment is just a small example of how our children whatever they are exposed to, whatever they see, it affects their being. And our learning continues to a long time in life and the same mechanism continue to work in our brain. Whether we acknowledge this or not, whatever falls on the surface of our eyes, get transmitted to our brain also has an impact upon our being, upon our spiritual health as well.
OUR AGE OF INFORMATION, BUT VOID OF KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM
The problem with the contemporary secular domain of knowledge is that it has divorced knowledge from practice, no one is seems to bothered with it and more than that, secular domain of knowledge actually glorifies ignorance. This is known as arrogance ignorance, the hallmark of jahiliyya (arrogant ignorance).
We may find tremendous amount of study, volumes and volumes of research done in the universities and institutes of higher studies, millions of research paper published but when it comes to practice we remain utterly dominated by arrogant ignorance. Knowledge when it is obsessed with collecting data and information and no interest in applying it in the society and the world is not knowledge at all, they are pseudo-knowledge, merely information.
Take the study of Bob Doll experiment. We know that what children watch and see in early days have tremendous impact to their being, and yet look at our television, radio, media, internet. No congressman ever will ask to ban pornography, no university scholar who study this subject will ever ask for banning sex and violence from public media. We are happy by doing so called rating and thats about it.
And the reason is more than ignorance. Yes there are mechanism to keep the public ignorant about it and on top of that the billion dollar industry goes about spread money everywhere to keep anyone from speaking truth, reminding useful knowledge and demanding to put them into practice.
We know for sure that what we see affect us tremendously, and yet you will be pushed at with obscene and useless materials and pictures of nudity while you are reading newspaper, watching youtube or television is filled with sexual aggression and physical violence and total disregard of human life. Desensitization and brain washing goes on in grand scale.
Our study into psychology has become mature enough to tell us how our learning works, how we form our worldview, how a children grow up imitating what it sees and yet there is a complete lack of interest to put that knowledge into practice, to translate in how we form our society. When you see how we deal with our schooling system, our syllabus and what our children learn, what we expose our children to, you will come to realize that someone is ensuring everywhere that we don't access real knowledge, but access only hollow information and that as much as possible, so that there is no room for real knowledge or wisdom. This is a fundamental reality in which we live in this age of information overload.
This phenomena, according to those who deal with the subject of Eschatology is known as SEEING WITH ONLY ONE EYE (a hallmark characteristics of Anti-Christ or Dajjal). The secular science champions the way of seeing with one eye, only considers external vision or deals with appearance and information. It doesnt see with two eyes, its blind to anything internal, putting knowledge into practice or turning knowledge into wisdom. This is the characteristics of the system of Anti-Christ and unfortunately the secular world has become the agent of Anti-Christ for a long time.
When knowledge is put into practice, only then we can call it knowledge. Otherwise its just information. And guess what? The secular world is full of love with information, so much so that it calls this age 'information age.'
Those who can see with two eyes, with both internal and external vision, they can see that 'information age' is really an age of no wisdom, age of no real knowledge. We are constantly bombarded with useless information and that process is glorified and marketed as smart, which in truth is only producing dumb human beings who can't think for themselves.
In the Islamic tradition we are communicated that in the later days (which we are already in: See this video 'This is the Last Age, No Doubt About It') knowledge will be taken away from the hearts of men. The Last Prophet, may Divine benediction and peace be upon his soul, prophesied,
"And that will occur at the time when knowledge will disappear."
He also said, “Indeed God will not take knowledge away abruptly by snatching it away from the people. But rather, he will take away the knowledge by taking away the real scholars. Then there will remain ignorant people who, when consulted, will give verdicts according to their opinions [in another narration: “without knowledge”]. Thus, they will go astray and will lead others astray.”
Did not the Christ also warned us the same when he said: "If a blind man leads a blind man, they will both fall into a pit?"(Gospel of Thomas)
May God help us to see with both eyes, aid us to see Unity and see His Signs. May God save us from the aggression of secularism which in the beginning bypass God and in the end deny God all together. May God aid us against those who coverup truth. May Allah grant us knowledge which is beneficial and enable us to practice that knowledge. Ameen.
Sadiq M. Alam / Dhaka, Bangladesh
// Learn More:
* AntiChrist Sees with One Eye- Shaykh Imran Hosein (Youtube)
* Knowledge of the Later Days
* Sheikh Imran Hosein Dajjal and Symbolism in Akhirulzaman
# Social Learning Theory
# Why I stopped watching Porn - A TED Talk Video