I had the thought while walking through my room. I was going to open the blinds to let the sun in, on a cloudy day. I was glancing, taking inventory of the space, saw my plants and made a mental note that they’d been watered. I had the quick thought that I hoped I could keep up with all the recent things; work, family, partner, world, jury duty, cleaning, plants, feeding myself.
And then I thought, man, I’m seeing this space less and less and only catching glances. And then I realized this was The Heart Space. When the Heart teaches the body to only glance, we develop greater appreciation; the views are ever fresh, momentary and fleeting. I realized that it was somehow easier to keep track of a myriad of things in the space of my life because I had to disabuse my focus regularly to account for all of them together.
And then I realized that this was Beauty. Beauty emerges when you only catch glances, when you yearn to take in the whole image, but you’re drawn away by more life. Think about the hike in the Appalachia, the sights that you alone are privy, that you have to abandon to return to the daily grind. Think about all those public building interiors, the foyers or atria where people are constantly moving in and out and no one is staying for too long.The halls are pristine and they are clear and flowing. When you walk in, you feel received, you feel royal.
The same is true for your home and your body. We are addicted to work because we’re addicted to Beauty. We’re drawn so readily from home and from our bodies by our commitments because we want to catch their rarified images. We want to glance at them, as they glance back. We work to let it glimmer.
When it comes to your body and who you are, you are really only able to catch glimpses through your emotional states and this is often reflected in your objects and the places and people surrounding you. You can only catch glimpses of yourself. When we linger on ourselves, we begin to take our lives for granted, we stop seeing what is and start thinking about what we are neglecting, what we wish we had more of or better. We start noticing the ugliness and develop contempt. Once you have contempt for yourself, you have disease. You start glaring at parts of yourself and your life and you start sending the message to those parts that they need to change or be destroyed. Direct gazing destroys and dispels; it harms. No wonder we can’t stop running from our lives to get to them.
It takes a lot of effort to then undo those crystallized glances, which is often the work of meditation. Where you have to focus so actively on nothing that everything comes up in its full blazing image, mocking you, and you have to practice acknowledging them in their self-absorbed glamour and letting them go.
But gazing with the Heart is different. It’s the practice of allowing your eyes to only catch glimpses of phenomena –to only glance– without demanding the beauty. In the Spring, the flowers rarely emerge alone. They come in bunches. Nature wants you to see the firework display of life. She doesn’t want you to be harmed by the shock of the bloom. She doesn’t want you to hoard or preserve her face. She wants you to be soothed by the myriad of glances and chances to see from nuanced perspectives. She wants you to see yourself with equal possibility.
One day, you’ll look at your room when you wake up, opening the blinds during a cloudy Spring morning, thinking about your new job, about the busy schedule, and you’ll realize;
“Man, I have less time to view this.”
This is a special moment. Take it in while it’s there. Take it in while you can.