The Gift of New Eyes

Rachel Naomi Remen

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Awakin FeatureMany years ago, I had just given a talk on the messages, both positive and negative, that we convey to our patients without our awareness; sometimes with words but often with just our tone of voice, our touch, our facial expression or the way in which we listen. At the end of the talk, I was standing with those who wanted to share their thoughts and discuss things a little more when a student came up to me, slipped a little piece of paper into the pocket of my white coat and walked off. I carried it around forgotten for almost a week. When I finally found it I was looking for something else (a lifelong pattern of mine). He had put together some lines from two other poems:

I had a dream
That honeybees were making honey in my heart
Out of my old failures.
There is no right or wrong
Beyond the right and the wrong
There is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

I have never had the chance to thank him for the healing and the gift of new eyes. As a patient myself I knew how strengthening and life transforming such genuine meetings can be. How they open new possibilities. Perhaps this poem is the message that education needs to deliver to every student. It is a message for all of us as well.

Excerpted from Rachel Naomi Remen's blog. â€‹Her groundbreaking curriculumn, the Healer’s Art is now taught yearly in more than half of American medical schools and in medical schools in seven countries abroad.

Seed questions for reflection: What do you understand by the "field beyond right and wrong?" Can you share a personal story of a time when you were able to enter the field beyond right and wrong? What practice helps you develop the new eyes to see beyond right and wrong?

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5 Previous Reflections:

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    On Sep 15, 2015 Jack wrote:

      When I can truly step into that place, especially in intimate relationship. where I can let go and just hold space for my wife, regardless of what's going on with her; essentially, to be that strong rock of support that I know she needs at that time; that to me is being in that field of love, beyond right and wrong.


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    On Sep 15, 2015 Sunil,Bangalore wrote:

     Kabir said"Hum Sab Mai,Sab Hai Hum Mai"  When the life force is one,there is no question of any right/wrong.
    Galib said" Duniya Me Hun,Magar Duniya Ka Talabdar Nahi Hun.
    Bazar Se Gujra Hun,Magar Kharidar Nahi Hun
    Jinda Hun Magar Jis ki lazzat Nahi Baki
    Har Chand Hosho Me Hun, Magar Hoshiyar Nahi Hun"
    In this condition where is the scope for any judgement on wrong/right.


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    On Sep 14, 2015 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

     The field beyond right or wrong is the place where we accept what has happened without judgment. Where we allow ourselves to learn from the experience without beating ourselves up about it. What has happened, has happened, we can become incapacitated by it or learn from it. I do my best to live in this area of acceptance of myself and of others, often asking myself to be as gentle with me as I try to be with other people. A small example is in conversations we have where later we might think of something more compassionate or serving to say. What we can do is pause in a conversation, take a moment to truly reflect and then speak from our heart from that field beyond right or wrong, taking both perspectives into account. <3


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    On Sep 11, 2015 david doane wrote:
    I believe, as I learned from a mentor John Warkentin, that the most significant contact between two people is unconscious to unconscious, soul to soul.  My words and actions are feeble compared to my real inner presence that affects the other and is affected by the inner presence of the other.  The field beyond right and wrong is the field of my unconscious, beyond intention, purpose, goals.  It is the field of right action of the eight fold path, wherein I do my truth impeccably, leaving the outcome to God, hoping for the best.  The response is a surprise -- sometimes I get no overt response, sometimes I get a negative response, and sometimes I get a positive response of having touched someone in a deep way.  Being in the field beyond right and wrong is satisfying in itself -- a positive response, such as receiving a thank you, is a satisfying bonus.  What helps me develop new eyes to see beyond right and wrong is reminding myself that my responsibility ... [View Full Comment]

    I believe, as I learned from a mentor John Warkentin, that the most significant contact between two people is unconscious to unconscious, soul to soul.  My words and actions are feeble compared to my real inner presence that affects the other and is affected by the inner presence of the other.  The field beyond right and wrong is the field of my unconscious, beyond intention, purpose, goals.  It is the field of right action of the eight fold path, wherein I do my truth impeccably, leaving the outcome to God, hoping for the best.  The response is a surprise -- sometimes I get no overt response, sometimes I get a negative response, and sometimes I get a positive response of having touched someone in a deep way.  Being in the field beyond right and wrong is satisfying in itself -- a positive response, such as receiving a thank you, is a satisfying bonus.  What helps me develop new eyes to see beyond right and wrong is reminding myself that my responsibility is to be true to my experience or truth and not try to control outcome -- learning that opens my eyes.

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    On Sep 11, 2015 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
     Rumi's poem says it all. Yes . There is a place beyond right and wrong, a place beyond the legal, rational, social and moral right and wrong. And that place is the place where there is no yours or mine zone. As the Buddha says: Gone, gone, gone beyond the gone and even beyond the beyond. What an awakening! what a bliss! Our two worldly eyes are colored by the non-unifying perspective. We live in the dualistic physical, mental, emotional  social and even religious world. As law- abiding citizens of this world, understandably, we need to comply with the laws to maintain social order.However, when we love someone from our heart and in our heart, the outbound rules and regulations disappear and we breathe the same breath. The other is no more the other. The other is me and me is the other. There is seamless oneness. This is not an ideal utterance or wishful thinking. I have experienced such Divine oneness in deep meditative state, in relationships with people clo... [View Full Comment]

     Rumi's poem says it all. Yes . There is a place beyond right and wrong, a place beyond the legal, rational, social and moral right and wrong. And that place is the place where there is no yours or mine zone. As the Buddha says: Gone, gone, gone beyond the gone and even beyond the beyond. What an awakening! what a bliss!

    Our two worldly eyes are colored by the non-unifying perspective. We live in the dualistic physical, mental, emotional  social and even religious world. As law- abiding citizens of this world, understandably, we need to comply with the laws to maintain social order.However, when we love someone from our heart and in our heart, the outbound rules and regulations disappear and we breathe the same breath. The other is no more the other. The other is me and me is the other. There is seamless oneness.

    This is not an ideal utterance or wishful thinking. I have experienced such Divine oneness in deep meditative state, in relationships with people close to me or remote from me. I feel it like being in the clear blue sky. It is like being touched by a cool breeze of air, like holding a baby in our hands, or someone offering a glass of water to a thirsty traveler. I have experienced such precious moments. We are blessed to have such Divine experiences in this world while we are alive.

    May we know how to to create such a sanctuary and live in the field beyond the right and wrong!

    Jagdish P Dave

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