“If we would look the Absolute in the eyes, we must look at nothing else; the complete opening of the eye of Eternity entail the closing of the eye of Time. Man, then, must abstract himself from multiplicity, if only for a moment. If he would catch sight of the unspeakable simplicity of the Real. … When the soul thus leans upon God by intention and love, above all that she understands, then she rests and dwells in God, and God in her. When the soul mounts up by desire, above the multiplicity of things, above the activities of the senses and above the light of external nature, then she encounters Christ by the Light of faith, and is illuminated;” ~Evelyn Underhill
Looking at God
There is nothing wrong with driving a motorcycle as well as a car, but you can’t do both at the same time. You can’t fly a jet and pick flowers at the same time. You can’t be on a “working vacation”, you can only be working in a location where others are on vacation. But you can take a few hours off from work and take a mini-vacation like I did when I went to Honolulu on a business trip in 1991.
Underhill tells us that when we wish to be one with God, to see God’s eyes, the same idea applies. If we try to do multitasking it isn’t going to get us far. Our spiritual techniques will simply not work if we are constantly thinking about paying the bills, getting back to the office, or the work project that is behind schedule.
When we do our spiritual practices, we need to get all worldly matters out of our thoughts and concerns. That is, of course, far easier said than done, but it can be accomplished. It can be frustrating to try to do something and not accomplish it the first time, or second, or even third, but if we continue trying, eventually, with God’s help, we will succeed. Ms. Underhill correctly says that this needs not happen for a long period of time, a few seconds will do and that is how it happens to most. You might think from their descriptions that some of the visions of the great mystics and prophets lasted for hours, or at least quite a few minutes, but most actually last only a few seconds.
How to make this happen is tricky. Trying to concentrate on the spiritual doesn’t work. It’s not a matter of concentration, yet it is also not a matter of letting the mind roam free and meander all over the place. It is completely emptying the mind so that it can be filled with something new and different. Think about it like this: if someone offers to give you some wine of excellent quality, but you have to provide your own bottle or jug, would you hand him a bottle half full or prune juice? Or even water? Of course not. You would give him a clean, empty bottle so nothing will spoil the taste of the wine.
Into God’s Eyes
Achieving oneness with God, looking into “God’s eyes” is like that. If you invite God in, don’t expect Him if you are inviting him into a landfill, a sewer, or a morgue, but that is what the typical materialistic mind is like to Him. Of course God won’t really join with the mind at all, not matter what. He will, however, join with your soul if your mind and ego are quiet and allow it to happen. Your soul can look into God’s eyes, but your mind cannot.
We have all heard of Zen koans such as the sound of one hand clapping. This is one method of trying to empty the mind. You might try seeing yourself as an empty glass bottle, then imagine that the bottle itself is getting thinner and thinner until it completely disappears. Or you could imagine your mind being like a large picnic jug with a spout on the side. You then see yourself opening the sprout and completely draining out every drop. There are many possibilities and some work better than others, but all take time, so be patient and practice regularly. It will happen one day and you will be glad that you stuck it out and achieved something few others have: allegorically seeing into God’s eyes and becoming one with the Creator.
This article previously appeared on the Solar Wind blog.