How Eye Contact Can Heal The World
I have always been particularly fascinated by the spiritual quality of human eyes. They do not merely look out upon the world, but allow the world to look into the hidden recesses of each individual soul. The revelations can sometimes be awe-inspiring, and sometimes frightening, as both light and darkness can be unleashed through them. But to see light in the eyes of another is to see a spark of Divine life burning deep in the hidden sanctuary of each heart.
The Buddhist tradition of honoring the light present in every person and our collective oneness with that light is not dissimilar to the Christian awareness of the fire of the Holy Spirit that enlivens every being and marks all humanity as having been created in the image and likeness of God. For this reason every person is sacred beyond our comprehension, shaped by their capacity to choose good over evil and embrace their unique callings to transform the world for the better.
But of course, in the bustle of our daily lives, we rarely remember to think of the blessedness of human eye contact as an instrument of spiritual bonding. But there have been moments in my own life when this reality has struck me with special keenness, and I found myself in awe of the beauty of my fellow beings. One such epiphany took place in one of the most unlikely locations imaginable: a dentist’s office!
While I was strapped down to the “torture chair” having my teeth worked on, I suddenly came to focus on my dentist’s eyes. Call it insane, but I saw the inner beauty and infinite possibility in those eyes, and the depth of humanity that I had overlooked when considering her strictly her career choice. And somehow, even though I was terribly uncomfortable at that moment, there was a timeless comfort in the meeting our gazes. I was unable to speak with my jaw pried open, but it was if something had been said between us that bridged the gap of trust between us.
During this presidential election year, I have been thinking more about seeing the Divine Light those who may easily become dehumanized in our minds. This includes everyone, from Hispanic immigrants to Islamic refugees, from underpaid workers to unemployed benefit receivers, from political candidates to millionaire businessmen, from those claiming unorthodox sexual identities to those “unwanted” unborn babies at risk of being dismembered in the womb. They are all reflections of the same Divine love, and no matter what tangled paths their lives may have take, we must show them that our eyes mirror the same transcendent reality and that love trumps hatred in all our actions and wishes towards them.
Beyond that, we must also seek out the workings of grace in the lives of those presidential hopefuls who so fiercely divide us. No matter their policies and personal flaws, we must remember that the same Breath of Heaven created and sustains the lives of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and all the rest of us. We may criticize their actions and positions, but never take that basic and intrinsic dignity away from them. The same goes for all their supporters who we may too quickly demonize given which side of the fence we may be on. We forget that the same salvific image is stamped on their hearts as ours. They are human beings, just like us, and we must love the sacredness of their souls with all the strength that is in us.
The very best way of doing this is to pray and extend good intent towards them, as opposed to giving in to hate fest that turn us into everything we might accuse them of being. This form of loving beyond borders seeks to heal the sickness of souls, not to condemn and cast them out of the circle of light. To do so, one must honestly acknowledge the presence of illness, yet judge them only as we would judge ourselves and as God would judge us: with justice, mercy, and the healing balm of forgiveness.
All of us have a unique mission, and yet all roads lead to the same destination. We are called upon to heal the world, individually and collectively, in our societies, communities, and souls. In Jewish tradition, this is referred to by the Hebrew phrase “Tikkun Olam”, or “construction for eternity.” This is a beautiful way of describing the bridges constructed when gazing soulfully into the eyes of others, and never failing to let our own eyes bless the hearth of every heart that burns within.
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