I Spy With My Little Eye
Most of us would agree that human eyes are pretty important organs. I have a rudimentary understanding of what they do and how they work. Here’s what I know for sure: our eyes make it so we can see. (Well, duh!) I figure if I can plug in my appliances and use them without really understanding how electricity works, maybe I don’t need to know the complex anatomical workings of the eyes to enjoy their function. I open my eyes, I see. I’m grateful for this miraculous process of vision, as I’m sure you are too.
I am very interested, however, in the spiritual meaning behind the eyes. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “The eyes are the windows of the soul.” There is great debate about the origin of this quote, often attributed to William Shakespeare, Leonardo DaVinci, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Milton, various English and French Proverbs, Jesus, and many others.
Jesus did teach us that, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23) I’ve seen multiple translations of this particular scripture, using various words like: “… if your eye is good, if thine eye be single, if your eye be clear, or if your eye is healthy…” For me, the word good resonates. I like the idea of keeping my eyes focused on the goodness in life.
Emmet Fox believed the eye symbolized spiritual perception. He discussed this scripture verse in his book, The Sermon on the Mount when he wrote, “Whatever you give your attention to, is the thing that governs your life. Attention is the key.” Our health, our happiness is determined by what we focus on with not only our physical eyes, but with our mind’s eye. What is it we see with our mind’s eye? We see in our mind’s eye with our perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, imagination, and visualizations. Jesus tells us that this is the key, if our “eye” is focused on good, our whole body will be full of light—meaning our experience will be good.
It sounds simple enough, but it’s not always easy to focus on the good, perfect, power and presence of God. We understand we should do this logically, but executing it in our everyday lives can prove challenging. Too often we are not focused only on the good. We try, but we complain, think negative thoughts, worry, imagine bad things happening, and visualize trouble in our lives. Intellectually, we believe in God as our one Source, the one Power—we see the amazing possibilities of faith! But we are human, and if we’re honest about it, our faith is often riddled with doubt.
Eric Butterworth wrote about this common problem in his book, Discover the Power Within You. He explained that even though we believe God is the only power in our lives, we often turn from God with daily fears—worrying about things like not having enough money in the bank, or potentially losing our job, or expecting misery and loss around the corner. Butterworth goes on to say, “Man is essentially a spiritual being, this world is essentially a spiritual world, and the underlying controlling force is spiritual law. When we really ‘fall in love’ with this spiritual essence…when we recognize that this is a good world and that all people are innately good people—then we will see with the single eye. We will see that goodness in all people and we will draw goodness from them.”
Here’s the kicker: our free will gives us the choice. We can focus on the good (God) and have a trusting expectation of good experiences, or we can focus on the bad (our own negative thoughts and the darkness of our fears) and be filled with that great darkness! I believe it was Albert Einstein who famously remarked, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” What do you believe? The choice is always ours.
We know faith is a journey, and it takes commitment, reminding, practice, and daily effort. Seek the good in your life. Look for it, even when it’s hard to find. Trust it is there, even when you can’t see it physically. Focus on it when you do see it, especially in your mind’s eye. Make this part of your daily spiritual practice. Train your eye to be single and good, and let your whole embodiment fill with light.