This is an excerpt from my book Leap Before You Look.
Sit opposite someone close to you.
This could be your intimate partner, or a friend.
Each of you—look into your partner’s left eye.
Look not just at your partner’s eye, but through the eye,
Into that which is looking back at you.
In this moment, something, someone is looking back at you.
What is that?
What is looking back through this eye and seeing you?
Keep the gaze with this left eye and keep inquiring,
Who am I meeting here?
Who is looking back at me?
What is it, who is it I am meeting here?
Deeper than thoughts,
Deeper than feelings,
Who is this other?
Our usual habit is to feel everyone and everything as separate, and therefore to act and speak strategically. As long as we are held in the grip of separation, even when we are trying to be altruistic, we are still driven by the obsession with “me”: How do I fulfill my needs, what am I feeling, how can I express my truth? It is, in fact, this underlying feeling of separation that causes us suffering in relationships, more than who said or did what to whom.
When we relate to each other from a place of separation, we act as if the other person is on the far side of a deep canyon. We can shout and wave and find empathy in our feelings of isolation. So-called skillful communication means building a stable and well-constructed bridge between one side and another to effect transactions. But even then, the deep feeling of isolation has not been addressed.
The trance of separation begins to be broken only when we inquire into our own nature. Where we might have thought there was a person, we begin to discover spaciousness, presence, pure awareness itself. This is called self-realization, and it may come all at once in a flash out of nowhere, or it may creep up on you in ever increasing intensity.
You can also look into the eyes of another and discover who is looking back at you. We need to look beyond the appearance of a face, a name, and an agenda, and find out who is really there, behind those eyes, seeing you. When this inquiry extends to another person, we can call it Other-realization. We start by finding infinity within our own heart, but soon that discovering expands to everyone around us.
To recognize that the one behind your own eyes and the one behind the other’s eyes are the same is love. Practice often in this way. It overflows to all things, to Oneness with all life: the realization that I am the tree, I am the ant, I am the saint, and I am the criminal. Underneath all our desires, our structures, our hopes and dreams, the deepest longing of the heart is for Oneness, absolute intimacy with all that is. Experiment for yourself with innocence and sincerity, staring into the face of another, and find out if this is true.
From Leap Before You Look by Arjuna Ardagh. You can order a paperback copy or Kindle edition on Amazon here.