What is the inner sense and how do we develop it? This article deals with open eye meditation that imply the concentration on both, material and subtle objects. As subtle objects, I present some entoptic phenomena (Eye Floaters) and provide a short introduction on using them in our daily meditation.
Part 1/2: The inner sense and the material meditation objects
What we know as our weekday is a tide of miscellaneous information which we receive with our five senses and put together to an integral picture in the brain. The sense organs are the gates of our body – they connect the outside world with the inner world and determine, dependent on our state of consciousness, how we experience this world.
But is there more to human sense activity than touching, seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting? There is, according to many cultures and religions where we find the notion of an inner sense. This sense is thought of as a mode of perception which directly and intuitively gives insight to the essence or true nature of the object perceived. Often this subtle or inner sense is linked to the eye as a widespread symbol of light, cognition and truth. It is then addressed as the “inner eye”, “third eye” or “eye of the heart”, common among mystics who experienced the divine light. In Indian mythology, for example, this inner sense is expressed as god Shiva’s frontal eye that gives him unifying vision. Accordingly, tantric yogis try to open this third eye by activating the “Ajna Chakra”, located between the eyebrows. Likewise, the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama received enlightenment through a “celestial eye” (prajnacaksus) which permitted him to understand the forces of existence and their manifestation in the chain of causality. The Greek philosophers spoke of an “Eye of the Spirit” which has to be opened and purified to see the truth. While the Old Testament calls the prophets “seers” and refers to an all-seeing eye or “Eye of Providence” that turns to those who fear God and gives them superior insights or strength, the New Testament takes up the Greek philosopher’s notion of the “Eye of the Soul or Heart”: the eye becomes the object of purity (Matthew, 6.22), and the Eye of the Heart has to be opened in order to see God (Acts 9.18). Over the centuries, Desert Fathers, Gnostics, and Mystics alike further reported experiences of the inner sense as inner eye or eye of the heart or soul. Since the early modern period, Western esoterics and scientists interested in unifying the scientific and spiritual traditions are trying to find a physiological correspondence of this inner sense. In recent years, for example, the inner sense was associated with the pineal gland, based on scientific insights about the light sensitivity of this gland.
The Eye of Providence at the Aachen Cathedral, Germany.
The relation between perception, soul and pineal gland after René Descartes (1596-1650).
Meditation for the development of the inner sense
Developing our inner sense, therefore, is a way to improve our spiritual life. In fact, many of us are doing this already, more or less consciously. For example, while meditating, many have come to experience subjective visual appearances, ecstatic feelings or intuitive insights – first aspects of an inner sense waking up. But if we want to develop that inner sense to its full bloom, years and decades of constant exercise are necessary. In any case, awakening the inner sense means choosing a meditation method which works directly with the inner sense or with its objects and function. Generally, meditation can be carried out on material objects which stimulate the inner sense; or on subtle objects which can be conceived of as objects of this inner sense.
Material meditation objects
Material meditation objects are perceived through the eyes, not through the inner sense, but concentrating on them can stimulate the inner sense and lead to subtle appearances. Meditation on material objects should support the inner sense or third eye in its function to mediate between the two brain or consciousness hemispheres. It should make aware to us our right intuitive emotional side as well as our left analytical rational side, bringing them into harmony with each other. This turns out best by means of squinting techniques which have been developed likewise in Western and Eastern traditions. Two different types of squinting must be distinguished here, though: the letting go of the eyes (parallel viewing) in which the concentration point shifts behind the object looked at, and the concentrative directing inside the eyes (cross viewing) in which the concentration point is drawn in front of the object looked at, in the direction of the observer. To distinguish these two types, we call the second type “doubling”. Doubling is the type of squinting ideal for meditation.
The simplest exercise of doubling is looking at the root of the nose, according to the way of Indian yogis. However, doubling can also be applied to distant material objects. Anthropologist and author Carlos Castaneda, for example, mentions a seeing technology called “gazing” which at first means to focus the view on an object, similar to the yogi’s cleaning exercise “trataka”. Sometimes, though, it is combined with squinting in which the practitioner moves apart the two pictures and thus superimposes two equally formed objects. The concentration on this superimposed object synchronizes the two consciousness hemispheres and, regularly practiced, produces a depth perception which carries the practitioner into other spheres of consciousness.
Another example of this form of meditation is the meditation on the “Tables of Chartres”. The tables are three legendary geometric figures of equal surface area, made from red and blue colored metal pieces shaped as rectangle, square, and circle. They are put down before oneself in two rows of alternating color and shape and doubled until a superimposed third table group appears in the middle. The knowledge around this old meditation type was maintained and passed on by gypsies and published by the French author Pierre Derlon for the first time.
The Tables of Chartres.
to be continued…
Floco Tausin (Leuchtstruktur Verlag) Switzerland