Sunday, 3 June 2012

Magic Eye

Back in the 1990s, someone brought out the Magic Eye books – maybe you remember them. Each page had a complicated pattern, with shapes of leaves or abstract images repeated, like brightly coloured wallpaper. However, designed with a computer, every so often there was a subtle tweak in the pattern, that you couldn’t consciously see. The knack of it was, if you didn’t focus on the pattern itself but gazed through it, a hundred feet past it, so to speak, then somehow your brain reconstructed the pattern and you could see a totally different image, a deer or a teddy bear or goldfish, emerge as foreground with the original pattern as background. It was clearly visible once you got it – almost in 3D. You could virtually look it up and down. I’ve said it was a knack. What you did was, you stopped consciously looking. You gazed, soft focus, and didn’t try to see it. You relaxed all conscious effort, let your eyes freewheel and your mind run down, and your brain would do the job for you. Your contribution was simply to know that it was possible and to expect it to happen. When the new image emerged, you could gaze on it in wonder. Maybe you can already see where I’m going with this: Regarding the Spirit, you can stop consciously striving. You don’t try to believe. As Yoda tells Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, “Try not. Do or do not – there is no try.” If you relax the effort, let your mind freewheel until it has run down, just let your inner self get on with it, then you may get hold of a new awareness, which is quite different from the everyday awareness, and stands out from it in high relief. The caddis worm potters about on the bottom of a stream, incorporating whatever bits and pieces of material happen to be around into its DIY tube, which protects it from harm. I believe that we can potter through life, sifting our experiences, gazing past the everyday bustle and sometimes catching a glimpse of the beyond, on which we are able to gaze in wonder. The world is our stream bed. We are here, we have to live here, we have to acknowledge the world, but we don’t have to take it too seriously. Live in it, use it wisely, be a good steward, pass it on to the next generations in better shape than you found it, if you can – don’t get stuck in it. The world is your paper: write on it, draw on it, fold it into beautiful shapes, or a paper plane and fly it.

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