One can see, one can look, and one can observe. These three words denote the same action, yet each word suggests something different.
- By observing we understand something about that which we see,
- by seeing we take full notice of it;
- by looking-whether we understand it or not, whether we take notice of it or not-we have at least cast our glance on something.
So there are three conditions:
- looking at a thing on its surface,
- seeing a thing properly, and
- seeing a thing with complete observation, understanding it while looking at it.
Every person notices things in these three ways.
- That which interests him most he observes keenly;
- that which attracts his thought he sees, he takes notice of,
- that upon which his glance falls he looks at.
There are therefore three different effects made upon man by all that he sees:
- a deeper effect of that which he has observed fully,
- a clear effect of that which he has seen, and
- a passing effect of that which he has glanced through.
So naturally among all those who live under the sun there are thinkers, there are seers, and there are those who have two eyes.
There is another side to this Question:
- a person who is walking has a certain experience of the way he has gone through;
- the one who goes the same way in an automobile has a different experience, and
- he one who flies through the air in an airplane has a still different experience.
Perhaps the one who was walking was not able to reach his goal at the same speed as the one in the automobile and the one in the airplane, but the observation he made, the sights he saw, and the experience he had are not to be compared with those of the other two.
In this way our minds work: there is one man whose mind works at the speed of the airplane, and there is another man whose mind works at the speed of an automobile. The one whose mind works at the speed of a man walking will perhaps not think as quickly as the other persons, but what he thinks he will think thoroughly, what he sees he will see thoroughly. It is he who will have insight into things, it is he who will understand the hidden law behind things, because the activity of his mind is normal.
Of course quick thinking does not always depend upon the quick activity of the mind: sometimes it is a quality of the mind. An intelligent person also thinks quickly, but that is another thing. As there is a difference between two stones, a pebble and a diamond-both stones, the one precious, the other dull-so these are two different qualities of the mind: one person thinking quickly and intelligently, the other thinking quickly and being always mistaken. The latter is mistaken because he thinks quickly, the former has that quality of mind which, even in quick thinking, makes him think rightly.
The rhythm of thinking has a great deal to do with one's life. When the three, who have traveled the same way on foot, by automobile and by airplane meet together and speak of their experiences, there will be great differences. And so it is that people who have gone through the same life, who have lived under the same sun, who have been born on the same earth, are yet so different in their mentality. The reason is that their minds have traveled at different speeds. Their experiences are quite different though they have gone the same way.
A seer is the one who has not looked, but who has seen. And how has he seen? By controlling the impulse of walking quickly, by resisting the temptation of going to the right or to the left, by going steadily towards the object that he has to reach. All these things make one a seer.
There are wrong interpretations of the word seer. Sometimes people say, "This person is a clairvoyant or a spiritualist, he sees fairies, ghosts or spirits." But that is a different kind of person; he is not a seer. The seer need not see the world unseen. There is much to be seen here in the visible world; for there is so much hidden from the eyes of every man which he could see in this objective world that, if all his life he was contemplating upon seeing in this objective world, he would find sufficient things to see and to think about. It is a childish curiosity on the part of some persons when they want to see something that no one has seen. It is out of vanity that they tell they see something which others do not see; it is to satisfy their curiosity that they see something which is not to be seen in this world of objects. The world seen and the world unseen, both are one and the same, and they are here. What we cannot see is the world unseen, and what we can see is the world seen. It is not that what we cannot see hides itself from our eyes, it is because we close our eyes to it.
Then there is long sight, short sight and medium sight.
- There are some who can see far beyond, far back, or long before things happen. These also are forms of sight.
- Another person only sees what is immediately before him, what is next to him, and sees nothing of what is behind him. His influence is limited, because everything that stands next to him influences him; he cannot see far behind, nor can he see far before him.
- There is another person who reasons about what he sees; this is medium sight. He reasons about it as far as his reason allows. He cannot see beyond his reasoning; he goes so far and no further.
Naturally when these three persons meet and speak together, each has his own language. It is not surprising if the one does not understand the point of view of the other, because each one has his own sight, and according to that sight he looks at things. No one can give his own sight to another person in order to make him see differently.
If in all ages spiritual people have taught faith, it was not because they wished that no one should think for himself and should accept everything in faith which was taught to him. If they had had that intention they would not have been spiritual people. Nevertheless, however clever a person may be, however devoted and enthusiastic, if he is without faith the spiritual persons cannot impart their knowledge to him, for there is no such thing as spiritual knowledge in the sense of learning. If there is anything spiritual that can be imparted to the pupil it is the point of view, it is the outlook on life. If a person already has that outlook on life he does not need spiritual guidance, but if he has not then words of explanation will not explain it to him, for it is a point of view, it cannot be explained in words.
However much a person might explain the sight he saw when he was on the top of a mountain to a man who never climbed the mountain, that man will hear it and perhaps refuse to believe all that the other says; or if he has trust in this person who explains to him what he saw from the top of the mountain, then perhaps he will begin to listen to his guidance. He will not see the sight, but he will listen and he will benefit by the experience of the one who has seen it. But the one who goes on the top of the mountain will see it for himself, he will have the same experience.
There is still another side to this question, and that is from which height one looks at life. When a person looks at life standing on the ground his sight is quite different from that of a person who is climbing the mountain, and it is again a different outlook when a person has climbed on to the top of the mountain. What are these degrees? These are degrees of consciousness.
- When a person looks at life as "I and all else" that is one point of view.
- When a person sees all else and forgets "I" that is another point of view.
- And when a person sees all and identifies it with "I" that is another point of view again.
The difference these points of view make in a person's outlook is so vast that words can never explain it.
- One gets an idea of what is called Nirwana, or cosmic consciousness, by reaching the top of the mountain, and
- an idea of communicating with God a person gets when he has climbed the mountain, andthe idea of "I and you
- and he and she and it" is clearer when a person is standing on the ground.
Spiritual progress is expansion of the soul. It is not always desirable to live on the top of the mountain, because the ground also is made for man. What is desirable is to have one's feet on the ground and the head as high as the top of the mountain. A person who can observe from all sides, from all angles, will find a different experience seeing from every angle; looking at every side will give him a new knowledge, a knowledge different from what he had known before.
Then there is the question of seeing and not seeing. This is understood by the mystics. It is being able to see at will and being able to overlook. It is not easy for a person to overlook, it is also something one must learn. There is much that one can see, that one must see, and there is much that one may not see, that it is better one does not see. If one cannot see, that is a disadvantage, but there is no disadvantage in not seeing something that one may not see; because there are so many things that could be seen, one may just as well avoid seeing them.
That person lacks mastery who is held by that which he sees. He cannot help seeing it, although he does not want to see it. But the one who has his sight in his hand sees what he wants to see, and what he does not want to see he does not see. That is mastery. As it is true of the eyes that what is before them they see and what is behind them they do not see, so it is true of the mind: what is before it it sees and what is behind it it does not see. And so a person who sees may see one side, while always the other side is hidden. Naturally therefore, if this objective world is before his eyes, the other world is hidden from his sight, because he sees what is before him; he does not see what is behind him. And as it is true that what is behind him a person can only see by turning his head back, so it is also true that what the mind does not see can be seen by the mind when it is turned the other side. What is learned in esotericism, in mysticism, is the turning of the mind from the outer vision to the inner vision.
You might ask: what profit does one derive from it? If it is profitable to rest at night after a whole day's work, so it is profitable to turn one's mind from this world of variety in order to rest it and to give it another experience, which belongs to it, which is its own, which it needs. It is this experience which is attained by the meditative process. A person who is able to think and not able to forget, a person who is able to speak but not able to keep silent, a person who is able to move and not able to keep still, a person who is able to cry and not able to laugh-that person does not know mastery. It is like having one hand, it is like standing on one foot. To have complete experience of life one must be able to act and to take repose, one must be able to think, and one must be able to keep silent.
There are many precious things in nature and in art, things that are beyond value, yet there is nothing in this world that is more precious than sight, and that which is most precious is insight: to be able to see, to be able to understand, to be able to learn and to be able to know. That is the greatest gift that God can give, and all other things in life are small compared to it. In order to enrich one's knowledge, in order to raise one's soul to higher spheres, in order to allow one's consciousness to expand to perfection, if there is anything that one can do, it is to help oneself in every way to open the sight, which is the sign of God in man. It is the opening of the sight which is called the soul's unfoldment.
Hazrat Inayat Khan