"And that Aha! that you get when you see an artwork that really hits you is, 'I am that.' I am the very radiance of energy that is talking to me through this painting."
-- Joseph Campbell
When was the last time you were struck by the beauty of a sunset or sunrise? Do you remember the sudden impulse and quickening of your heart the first time you gazed into the eyes of your significant other? Have you ever been moved to tears by a piece of music or a special passage in a book you were are reading? Do you recall the awe you felt the first time you looked into a newborn baby's eyes and considered the miracle and mystery of it all? What is it that triggers that overwhelming, emotional, beyond-description sensation within? It is your recognition of your self in that which has moved you. This is how awakening to our oneness with life begins. The practice is to pay attention to the radiance of energy that moves you in those sacred moments because it is trying to tell you something beautiful about yourself. With this thought in mind, an affirmative mantra to remember is, "Everywhere I look I see the face of the beloved one." This mantra is also the sacred call to the practice of reverence.
What is reverence? Reverence is the act of seeing through the form of all living things and recognizing and honoring the divine presence at its center and its circumference. Our judgements are the primary thing that separate us from the awareness of our oneness with all of life. The practice of reverence is how we transcend our judgments, which sets us free from the tyranny of the egoic-self that thrives on fear and separation by labeling everything and everyone as good or bad, desirable or undesirable, right or wrong. As Henry David Thoreau said, "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." When Joseph Campbell spoke about recognizing some part of ourselves in the essence of the artwork we see, was he aligning with Thoreau by suggesting that we, too, are "works of art" put here by the creator -- to see and recognize the radiance we truly are, being reflected back to us by others?
Spiritually speaking, from the perspective of the whole, there is only one of us here; we are each reflections of the one. In the East, when the word "namaste" is spoken to another person it is an acknowledgement, a conscious practice, of this truth. While there are variations of the literal meaning of the word "Namaste," I favor the definition given by Mahatma Gandhi: "I honor the place within you where the entire universe resides; I honor the place within you of love, of light, of truth, of peace; I honor the place within you, where, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us."
As a mindfulness practice today, consider every person you encounter as a unique work of art. When you look into that person's eyes, pause and mindfully take time to really look "into" them until you see the essence of your self gazing back. Then take a deep breath, smile, and silently say to yourself, "Ah... I am that; I am the very radiance of energy that is talking to me through this living canvas, this human painting," and then say, "namaste."
The gift of conscious perception can be an astounding event that happens whenever we realize that it is we, and we alone, who assign meaning to whatever our eyes fall upon every moment of every day. We don't see just with our eyes; we see with our mind and heart. The practice is to become the conscious observer behind the camera lenses called "your eyes" and drink it all in taking nothing for granted. This sacred moment is filled with beauty and meaning -- if that is what you are looking for.
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