There is a cartoon character whose eyes pop out of its head so far they touch whatever is looked at. Now we all know that what we “see” with our eyes is actually occurring in our brain. The “seeing” is similar to the images recorded in a digital camera that occur within the camera. In the same way what we hear, touch, smell and taste are all happening internally in our brain. Our mind interprets these phenomena and we develop the habit of thinking everything is outside of us when our entire world exists inside. We see what we see because our mind makes up its mind to believe that, “thinking makes it so.” And then the mind goes further to embellish, elaborate, interpret and often alter what is seen to meet its personal wishes.
This often leads to a pleasurable experience although just as often it leads to a desire for more or less of a particular situation. Our eyes tend to pop out of our heads to touch and grab on to what ever we are intently focused on seeing. When this happens we become attached and lost on the outside. We forget our natural calm abiding center of equanimity and slip into a center created by self-concern where things feel important based on their ability to give us pleasure or pain.
When we practice mindfulness we are focused on the internal experience that comes in through our senses. Mainly the more we can concentrate directly on what our senses are bringing in without being pulled into analysis of liking or disliking the better we feel. Some of this experience is pleasurable and some not. We often go back outside looking to increase the pleasurable and decrease the un-pleasurable. Our eyes like the cartoon character try to touch and hold on to what is seen.
Upasika Kee Nanayon, a Thai Buddhist, is quoted as writing, “If mindfulness slips and the mind goes out giving meanings to things, latching onto things, troubles will arise. So you have to keep checking on this in every moment. There’s nothing else that’s so worth checking on.”
Sometimes I can see just what is seen, hear just what is heard, taste just what is eaten, and feel just what is felt; even with my eyes open.
Ah, indubitably those are the best moments of all.