Going Back To The Source Of Looking
Dr. Jordan Peterson,
”Our eyes are always pointing at things we are interested in approaching, or investigating, or looking for, or having. We must see, but to see, we must aim, so we are always aiming. Our minds are built on the hunting-and-gathering platforms of our bodies. To hunt is to specify a target, track it, and throw at it. To gather is to specify and to grasp. We fling stones, and spears, and boomerangs. We toss balls through hoops, and hit pucks into nets, and curl carved granite rocks down the ice onto horizontal bull’s-eyes. We launch projectiles at targets with bows, guns, rifles, and rockets. We hurl insults, launch plans, and pitch ideas. We succeed when we score a goal or hit a target. We fail, or sin, when we do not (as the word "sin" means to miss the mark). We cannot navigate without something to aim at, and while we are in this world, we must always navigate.”
|Dr. Jordan Peterson|
Animals, most of them anyway, remain attentive of their surroundings. They do this to know whether they are safe or not. Human beings also go into this primitive mode, for example in stressful situations. Soldiers of special forces, such as SEALs, are taught how to disengage from tunnel vision caused by fearful reaction by returning peripheral vision by looking left and right, which is a classic meditation exercise in the buddhist tradition. Our gaze reveals and reflects our mental state, whether instinctual, habitual or meditative.
Seeking from Outside
In the above quote, Dr. Peterson describes what in yogic teachings is called seeking from outside. Yogic tradition says that unsatisfied beings seek pleasures and relief to their existential confusion outside of themselves, rather than from within. It is an instinctual habit for humans to seek happiness and acceptance from outside. We try to fill the void within with foods, drinks, love, sex, money, possessions or by asking affirmative responses from our boss or parents. We go about our life by trying to fill the void within. However, the nature of all experiences, pleasant or unpleasant, is that they pass and therefore cannot make us permanently content.
The tragedy of habitual seeking is that it takes a lot of repetition and a solid belief in the material world, until people begin to realise that pleasures are fleeting. A new car or an amazing orgasm won't keep us happy for long. When relief and satisfaction vane, again, we begin to seek from outside and so it continues. We blindly follow our wants and desires. This is cyclical existence, going around in circles, bumping our head to the same wall again and again. This is ignorance of our true condition.
Becoming Aware of the Origin of Looking
Teachings of yogic meditation are primarily interested in breaking the vicious cycle of seeking. It is unsatisfactory so why keep repeating it? When we manage to do that, stop seeking from outside, our mind comes to rest in its natural condition. When that happens a recognition of our natural state takes place. At that moment, our mind meets and merges with its source. This source is called by many names in religious and philosophical traditions. The name for it is irrelevant, may those so inclined debate on that. However, the actual experience of it changes lives and liberates. There is nothing more satisfactory than knowing oneself without a narrow identity and a storyline. The thought of this experience might be scary but the actual experience is very pleasant, imbued with freedom, clearmindedness and creativity.
So, we aim our attention to our externals. We project our gaze to things. We looks at things, one after the other, we seek, we seek, we seek... When we do this from morning until night, we become tired because our vital energy gets scattered. What happens here can be compared to beacon that projects its beam of light outwards. As mentioned, this is seeking from outside that can never make us happy.
A simple way to stop looking outside is to bring our attention back to the physical eyes and the area behind the eyes inside our head. When we become aware that we have gone into the searching mode, looking at things external to us, we simply bring our attention back into the head or back to the source of beacon's light. This can be learned after a little bit of experimenting.
What happens with this is that becoming aware of the source of looking, interrupts seeking (1) and makes us aware of our natural mind (2) that is effortlessly aware and knows things, experiences and events appearing in the mind.
Tradition of yoga is very old. It has specialized in solving existential problems caused by the sense of us having a self or me within us, in our thoughts, ideas and emotional reactions. Through the valuable teachings and meditative exercises such as the one above, it offers to solve our internal conflicts by making us aware of our liberated condition. Numerous generations of female and male practitioners have verified, that such methods are effective in solving neurotic and deluded behaviour. By becoming aware of our instinctual and habitual human animal behaviour, yogic practice helps us become clearminded, satisfied and realistic human beings, not by adding anything to us but by recognising what we already are.
Thank you for reading,
-Kim Katami, 29.6.2019
Open Heart Sangha,
Open Heart Sangha,