Scripture ~ Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. Matthew 6:22 The Message
Spiritual Focus ~ “Gazing on beautiful things acts on my soul.” Michelangelo
Breath Prayer ~ Inhale, Love ~ Exhale, Light
The Devotion ~
Gazing into somebody’s eyes is an interesting experience. Last Sunday at a local church, the pastor asked the congregants to turn and look at their neighbor and say, “I see the light in you because I see the light of Jesus in you.” The exercise was intended help us “see” our neighbor. By most reports it was a challenging exercise. The level of comfort or discomfort was proportionate to where the gaze was directed. Looking into the eyes of a child or someone you knew was much easier that looking into the eyes of a stranger. Whether you liked or disliked the exercise, it did give one pause to wonder how our gaze might be connected to our very being, communally, personally and to God.
Drishti is broadly defined as “wide angled but focused gaze.” It is a practice in yoga that has broad definitions. For example, Ashtanga yoga has nine different drishti, or gazing techniques, but warns that the practices themselves are the vehicle not the goal. Bhakti yogi (yoga of devotion) uses drishti in a slightly different way by constantly turning a loving, longing gaze toward God. One is not better than another; this is a “both/and” opportunity. When pulling a sliver out of one’s finger, one wants a very focused gaze. When looking outward at a newly fallen blanket of snow, one wants a wide angled focus to see the beauty and not just the challenges. When we practice gazing inward, we can begin to see our Truth, our God nature. Gazing inward, we practice seeing past all of our faults, delusions and misperceptions so that we may experience the loving gaze of God. To practice this way is holy nourishment, defined in Sanskrit as Prasad. Or as in contemplative prayer practices as lovingly, gazing at God who is lovingly gazing back at you.
Our spiritual practice this week is threefold. Begin by finding someone you are comfortable with, sit comfortably, set a timer for 3-5 minutes and gaze into their eyes. Close the time in gratitude, a simple thank you. Document your experience. Next, take your gaze outward. Gaze at an object in nature, noticing what you see in your wide-angled gaze. Express gratitude for the experience, and document what you notice. Finally, find a comfortable seat, set a timer for a length of time of your choosing, close your eyes, and look inward. Afterward, express gratitude and document your experience. In this way our spiritual practice guides us to see the light of Jesus, a beautiful light that fills our body and acts on our soul.