Thursday, October 20, 2016

Seeing you seeing me.

Nearly 400 years have passed since the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns, offered the words, “O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.” Seeing ourselves in that way is a daunting challenge. What others see is limited to perception of our objective nature and the same is true in reverse: we see the outside evidence and they see ours. None, however, can ever see another’s true subjective nature. We see the tip of the iceberg but not what lies beneath. 

The evidence of what lies beneath must be seen through word and action. In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, The Buddha himself is quoted as having said there are two kinds of seeing: “One is seeing by outer signs, and the other by fathoming. Seeing by outer signs is like seeing fire from afar, when one sees the smoke. Actually, one does not see the fire.

Fathoming is like seeing the colour of the eye. A man’s eye is pure and does not get broken (damaged by looking). The same is the case where the Bodhisattva clearly sees the Way, Enlightenment, and Nirvana. Though he sees thus, there are no characteristics to be seen...Seeing the actions of body and mouth, we say that we see the mind. The mind is not seen, but this is not false. This is seeing by outer signs.” And Jesus, likewise said“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. 

Our internal truth is reflected through word and deed. We are all seeing through a glass either filtered by the darkness of how we think and imagine ourselves, through the bias of our own egos, or through a clear glass cleansed of defilement. What we imagine ourselves to be, often stands against how others see us and that contrast is a thorny problem everyone must work through before the darkness vanishes and we can see clearly, life as it truly is: a magnificent creation—a heaven on earth!

Genuine truth is the same regardless of source. The same is true of wisdom. If truth and wisdom are genuine, they will be the same for all people regardless of source or affiliation. Nevertheless people often times are mislead between gold and fool’s gold. Genuine gold is always genuine, regardless of judgments and filtered bias. In the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians, the Apostle Paul addresses this matter of the accoutrements of religiosity compared to true vision. He said, “…where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

This wisdom is not different from that offered by Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas to which I referred in a previous post Getting saved“When you know yourself, then you will know that you are of the flesh of the living Father. But if you know yourself not, then you live in poverty and that poverty is you.” Neither is it different from the words of The Buddha found in the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment: “Good sons, it is like smelting gold ore. The gold does not come into being because of smelting...Even though it passes through endless time the nature of the gold is never corrupted. It is wrong to say that it is not originally perfect. The perfect enlightenment of the Tathagata (A Buddha: our true mind) is also like this.”

The central battleground is the impediment that blinds us all and turns righteousness into self-righteousness. What is right doesn’t depend upon our ideas about ourselves. Right is always right. Truth and wisdom are always what they are. To claim that our views alone are right, standing against the views of others, is nothing other than an egotistical reflection of the internal workings of not understanding who we truly are: “…flesh of the living Father.” We can see the flesh. The question is, can we see “…the power of the gift within.” When completeness comes, what is in part disappears. Then only will we know fully, even as we are fully known.
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