Seeing yourself through another’s eyes

Our task this week comes from Maurice Nicoll’s Commentaries (Vol. 1, pp. 265-268):

“Now suppose you have to live with a person called yourself. I once read a story of a man who died and went into the next world where he met numbers of people some of whom he knew and liked and some he knew and disliked. But there was one person there whom he did not know and he could not bear him.”

“Everything he said infuriated and disgusted him–his manner, his habits, his laziness, his insincere way of speaking, his facial expressions–and it seemed to him also that he could see into this man’s thoughts and his feelings and all his secrets and, in fact, into all his life. He asked the others who this impossible man was. They answered: ‘Up here we have very special mirrors which are quite different from those in your world. This man is yourself.'”

For our practical work this week, let’s suppose that you have to live with the person who is you. Bring to mind the person in this world who knows you best, and put yourself into that person’s place, looking out of this person’s mind and consciousness at yourself as they see you. What is it like for them to live with you? How do they hear you, and experience you in your daily behavior? Can you see yourself through their eyes? Can you see yourself as this other person sees you, at least to some extent? Can you begin to realize practically what the other person’s situation is?

If you have no or little self-observation, you may imagine what a great blessing it would be for this other person to live with you. But can you see what some of their difficulties are and what it might mean if you had to live with yourself? Can you see how difficult you are for the other person?

There is a harsh seeing and a gentle seeing. Harsh seeing judges, shames, and wants to mount a direct assault against what it sees. We have to develop a soft, gentle kind of seeing that does not judge or try to change what we see. For now, just see and try to bear what you see. According to Nicoll, an hour of this kind of work can free us from the effects of weeks of internal considering.

Posted by Bob Sabath into the Wisdom School Facebook Page on October 19, 2018 for Inner Task Friday.