Reading by Liz Helgesen (Download file)
The question is not what to do but how to see. Seeing is the most important thing—the act of seeing. I need to realize that it is truly an act, an action that brings something entirely new, a new possibility of vision, certainty and knowledge. This possibility appears during the act itself and disappears as soon as the seeing stops. It is only in this act of seeing that I will find a certain freedom.
So long as I have not seen the nature and movement of the mind, there is little sense in believing that I could be free of it. I am a slave to my mechanical thoughts. This is a fact. It is not the thoughts themselves that enslave me but my attachment to them. In order to understand this, I must not seek to free myself before having known what the slavery is. I need to see the illusion of words and ideas, and the fear of my thinking mind to be alone and empty without the support of anything known. It is necessary to live this slavery as a fact, moment after moment, without escaping from it. Then I will begin to perceive a new way of seeing. Can I accept not knowing who I am, being hidden behind an imposter? Can I accept not knowing my name? Seeing does not come from thinking.
It comes from the shock at the moment when, feeling an urgency to know what is true, I suddenly realize that my thinking mind cannot perceive reality. To understand what I really am at this moment, I need sincerity and humility, and an unmasked exposure that I do not know. This would mean to refuse nothing, exclude nothing, and enter into the experience of discovering what I think, what I sense, what I wish, all at this very moment.
Our conditioned thought always wants an answer. What is important is to develop another thinking, a vision. For this we have to liberate a certain energy that is beyond our usual thought. I need to experience “I do not know” without seeking an answer, to abandon everything to enter the unknown. Then it is no longer the same mind. My mind engages in a new way. I see without any preconceived idea, without choice. In relaxing, for example, I no longer choose to relax before knowing why. I learn to purify my power of vision, not by turning away from the undesirable or toward what is agreeable. I learn to stay in front and see clearly. All things have the same importance, and I become fixed on nothing. Everything depends on this vision, on a look that comes not from any command of my thought but from a feeling of urgency to know.
Perception, real vision, comes in the interval between the old response and the new response to the reception of an impression. The old response is based on material inscribed in our memory. With the new response, free from the past, the brain remains open, receptive, in an attitude of respect. It is a new brain which functions, that is, different cells and a new intelligence. When I see that my thought is incapable of understanding, that its movement brings nothing, I am open to the sense of the cosmic, beyond the realm of human perception.
by Jeanne de Salzmann, excerpted from Parabola.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What does finding a certain freedom in the act of seeing mean to you? Can you share a personal story of a time you experienced "I do not know" without seeking an answer? What helps you stay in front and see clearly?