The Creative Power of Sight

By Michael A. Rodriguez, author of Boundless Awareness

The illusion of an externally existent world rests largely on the sense of sight. When the eyes are open, there are no “gaps” in the visual field, which is primarily why the world appears to be so absolutely solid and independent. The sense of sight generates perhaps the strongest, most powerfully bewildering illusion of solidity, continu­ity, and permanence. It’s a truly awesome magic trick. There are also biological reasons to consider, as there are many more neurons devoted to visual processing than to touch and hearing, taking up much more of the brain’s cortex. These biological facts related to visual processing largely explain why you may retain the deep belief that the world is “out there” despite your lack of firsthand evidence; for example, you may believe that the world is still visually there when your eyes are closed or when you are in deep sleep. In fact, using the guided meditations in this chapter and the common daily experience of deep sleep as a big clue, you can begin to understand that “the world” is actually a discontinuous network of thoughts, sensations, and perceptions held together in awareness by the “crazy glue” of memory and imagination. There’s absolutely nothing con­tinuous about thoughts, sensations, and perceptions.

Guided Meditation: Feeling into the Discontinuity of Visual and Auditory Perceptions

When performing these exercises with visual and auditory percep­tions, suspend for a few minutes your belief in independently exist­ing perceptions and remain faithful to your heartfelt experience.

  1. Sit comfortably and relax. Soften any tension in your body.

  2. Now close your eyes gently for ten seconds. With closed eyes, do you have firsthand knowledge or a belief that the world is still there visually? Let your direct experience be your guide.

  3. Now open your eyes, taking in the visual field for ten seconds.

  4. Now close your eyes again for ten seconds, taking note of the fact that the world as a visual perception has disap­peared. As a visual experience, it is discontinuous rather than continuous. Feel into your experience with intuition.

  5. When you open your eyes again, can you notice that you are seeing brand-new visual perceptions that are being created instantaneously? The new visual perception has never been seen before in exactly the same way and will never be repeated. Every moment is a one-time event.

  6. If you have the sense that you are seeing the same world, try shifting your gaze or position so you are seeing from a new perspective. Or consider how this moment is completely fresh, how everything has changed from one second ago: the Earth has moved on its axis and in its orbit around the sun, the trees have rustled, the birds have flown by, the clouds have shifted, your cells have died and been born, and so forth.

  7. Now try to bring back the visual perception from one second ago. Can you bring it back as an experience, or is it gone forever, existing only as a memory?

  8. Reflect on your experience.

Now let’s try the same experiment with auditory perceptions. You will need to hear birds chirping for this exercise.

  1. With your eyes closed, listen to the sound of a single bird or many birds chirping. Are the chirps “solid,” or are they discontinuous?

  2. Are you hearing the same sounds, or is each sound a brand-new auditory experience, never-before heard in exactly the same way and never to be repeated?

  3. Cause and effect take time. Are the sounds arising in a causal manner, or are they arising spontaneously in “the eternal now”? Try to feel into the timeless quality of the sounds.

  4. Are the sounds inanimate or animate in your experience? Are they dead or alive?

  5. Reflect on your experience.

You can expand this exercise to include all sense perceptions. Natural sounds are more clearly intermittent than any other percep­tion, so it’s much easier with them to awaken to the reality of spon­taneity, discontinuity, and emptiness. But since the belief in solid visual perceptions is particularly stubborn, I recommend performing the above guided meditation repeatedly until that belief is replaced by your direct, intuitive, heartfelt experience.

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