How sad that I hope
to see you even now,
after my life has emptied itself
like this stalk of grain
into the autumn wind.
~Ono No Komachi*
May I find the Equanimity
that will lift a veil of shamed despair
and acquaint me
to the perceived and perceiver
absent of greed, anger, and ignorance.
…gaze alters what it finds.
This used to be expressed in the idea, prevalent in the Ancient World, and again at the Renaissance, of the rays that come from the eye, from a deep source of life and energy within… Of the human eye Empedocles wrote that, when it had been created, ‘the primeval fire hid itself in the round pupil,’ protected by delicate membranes from the waters flowing around it. And Plato, in the Timaeus, for once seems almost to anticipate the phenomenologist when we writes that a smooth, dense stream of gentle light from the purest fire within us merges with the light from what it sees, so that ‘one body’ is formed between ourselves and the object of our vision, conveying the ‘motions’ of what is seen into every part of our own body and soul.
The phrase, ‘gazing into someone’s eyes’ goes further, and suggest that something actually emanates from our eyes and enters into the object of our attention… In looking, in other words, we enter into a reciprocal relationship: the seeing and the seen take part in one another’s being.
Gaze is active all right. …if I am its recipient, it changes my self-experience, too.
The right hemisphere’s gaze is intrinsically empathic…and acknowledges the inevitability of ‘betweeness’: in fact it is the fact of gaze normally being an empathic process that makes the detached stare so destructive. **
*The Ink Dark Moon
Trans: Jane Hirshfield w/Mariko Aratant
**The Master and his Emissary
the Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World