An insightful story from the Jewish tradition asks us to see beyond the obvious with a deep and attentive awareness because we all share the same paradoxical journey. A Rabbi asks his students: “How do you know the first moment of dawn has arrived?” After an elongated silence one speaks, “When you can tell the difference between a sheep and a dog.” The Rabbi slowly and silently shakes his head no. Another speaks, “When you can tell the difference between a fig tree and an olive tree.” The Rabbi again silently and slowly shakes his head no. No further answers come. The Rabbi slowly and gently walks in and through the pervasive silence to finally say, “You know the first moment of dawn has arrived when you look into the eyes of another human being and see yourself . . . . . . . . . . . . .”
When was the last time you looked into the eyes of another human being to see yourself? How long has it been since you looked into a mirror to see beyond the surface reality; to see into the depths of yourself beyond all the filters, personality positions, defense mechanisms and deflated/inflated attitudes and ideas about who you think you are? How connected are you to the Who That Is Truly You, that part of you that is infinite, beyond form, filled with substance and the very essence of Life? What if you were more attentive to and aware of what lies beneath the surface of your skin and that of others? How often is a new dawn arriving for you?
In my own reflection on these questions I’ve started giving greater attention to seeing beneath the surface of things, into the heart of the matter. One of the observations I’ve come to is that making eye contact with others is fleeting at best. There seems to be a level of discomfort in a steady gaze. As I’ve reflected on this, what’s come to my awareness is that I was trained not to stare at people. I remember being told as a youngster that it was rude and offensive. Was that your training too? Do you find it difficult to stare or be stared at, to make soulful eye contact?
One of my new practices is to bring attentive awareness to every meeting and greeting I have with another human being. I’m noticing how much eye contact there is and is not while working to prolong it with a loving, respectful and heartfelt presence. It continues to be curious to me how much effort it takes to do this because it appears to be counter cultural for most. I’m asking myself “What’s the fear of seeing the dawn in another’s eyes, in seeing me?”
Rumi has said that “There’s a sun in every person, the You we call companion.” Could he be speaking about the spark of the divine that all the deep spiritual traditions speak of with different metaphors? Could he be pointing to the same inner reality that the Rabbi is directing us to? Is this sun the light that Yeshua invited our attentive awareness to that we may become that light? The look of love, companion presence, is the desire ‘to see’ and ‘to be seen’ in the depths of our being. It’s to know we’re connected, awake, transforming and renewing together. It’s the connection we all long for; giving and receiving attention and awareness. Allow the sun to shine forth from within you and another. Awaken to that dawning arrival, with the eyes of a child.
- Breathe slowly and deeply through your heart. Feel your infinite interconnectedness . . .
- Practice making conscious attentive eye contact with people you meet. Note the feeling . . .
- Notice your reactions when someone looks at you. What do you see within and without?