The Eyes

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Eyesby Monastic Brother Pháp Khả

With a pair of eyes, one is assured of a life-long appointment with the blue sky and white cloud. Where I live, the sky is immense and the warmth of the sun exudes its own fragrance. Have you ever heard of the saying “sunshine-scented”? When I put on my robe this morning, I took note of this fragrance on my clothes. Sometimes when our heart feels crammed, try looking up at the sky; a spaciousness that is so vast that one can’t imagine anything more blue and open than what is high above us. Today, I did just that and was so surprised with the gift of the morning – quite fresh and new!

With this pair of eyes, I recognize my good fortune when looking outward. Elsewhere in this world, people suffer immeasurably more than I can imagine, which turned the things I thought were “permanent weaknesses” into a tiny insignificance. Whether a lot or a little, compassion of the heart finds its way through the light of empathy. Is it possible that there is unlimited suffering existing among us humans? Do you believe there is suffering in trees, animals, rocks, air, or rivers? I think you will not only agree, but you will also assert that their suffering might be caused by humans. Nevertheless, all of these inanimate and animate beings also have happiness because they exist; and their transformation is dependent on human’s perception and action. We are all manifestations of life.

More often than not, we communicate with our eyes. I believe there is more value in the exchanges with the eyes. From just a glance, you send me the depth of your soul. From just a glance, I know how hopeful you are. From yet another glance, you put out such love for this life. From these same eyes, I can read the sincere desire to be understood and the genuine selfless giving. In this youthful life, there’s so much to do, yet we walk in circles. Who would be the mentor on this path; who would light the way for the right or wrong in life? Our ideals sometimes commingle with those of society. In the stillness of the soul, we wrestle with the unrest conflicts. Even though we might feel comfortable with the current life, we continue to question about how much further in fame we want to be. About the material world, we already have as much as others around us possess. But what about the anger, jealousy, envy, resentment of which can amount to more? Surely you have thought of these gains as well for I have seen them in your anxious eyes.

And then there are times when your eyes lit up with the vision to change the world, which aren’t from arrogance nor from naivety. Even then, such inspiration is a necessity. All the hopelessness, frustration, and loneliness turn your heart to courage. Then comes a day when we are awaken to the realization changing the perception from within is indeed the way to change the world. The world as we know it, from the historical backdrop to the spacious timelessness, is just a manifestation from our mind. There is no universe if we are not presently here and now. Big or small, white or black, are all products of our mind. Therefore, the beauty of the universe or lack of it is dependent on how we perceive it to be. When the way we look at things change, life becomes a miracle. Do you think this is a difficult thing to understand? Give it a try. When the eyes radiate peace, the sky will be more blue, and that spaciousness will be full of white dancing doves as clouds flitting by.

From these eyes, I have seen you cried out of happiness, out of self- pity, out of suffering. I, too, cry for the same reasons. Feeling misunderstood, we would always wonder the reasons why others did what they did. We would count the many times our hearts have been disappointed. We become suspicious of the real beauty, not wanting to believe they indeed do exist. There are regions within our heart where some can be as majestic as the mountains, or where some can be as limp as a willow or a peach branch. Confucius has said, even as talented as you are, there will also be weakness as inevitable as birth and death. With such recognition, the flowers might not be as beautiful; and the brightness of the sun might become an annoyance. The light of awakening might be extinguished. Anywhere we look, there is no longer any interest. Bittersweet tears streaming forth. The blurred eyes are begging to be comforted. We seek to understand, just the fact that when we understand we can accept all that might happen. Because once understood, the connection link among each other’s hearts is revived, pouring out and filling the eyes. Have you noticed that to be understood is one of the most desired aspirations of our humanity?

Having eyes, we focus on the positive. Just this lesson alone is enough for me to change my life. Even amidst the shocking truth, we continue to maintain a peaceful heart filled with light as a result of the way we perceive. This is a precious truth. We can now merge with the green grass, with the dawn of the new day. With you, I celebrate the mounting positiveness; without you, I turn into hopelessness!

On a day so beautiful, when sorrow and happiness of a typical day evaporate from your eyes, you will then see them as valuable, worthy, and treasured; they are the reality becoming present in life. Materialized in your suffering is the fortune of society, of ancestors, of your current environment. The initial fire from the heart is always the most passionate. All the heaviness of your sorrow will help you to see the true happiness. You will then come into an acceptance of looking with eyes free from worry – free from questioning, even if there were, it would come from a heart more simple. All the sadness of life will not dim the brightness coming from these two jewels. There will only be flowers, sky, cloud, stars, faces of loved ones…the representations of the pureness in you. Be like this for me to send you all the the boundaryless dreams. How many more seasons of sunshine will rest on our shoulders? It does not matter where we are on earth; I will see your presence in each gathering clearly. Continue to stoke the fire in your heart, like two renewed bright stars, for everyone to have faith that our world will transform and beautify from those eyes!

The article was originally published in Vietnamese on Lang Mai’s website

Translation credits: Vuong Haiyen and Loan Nguyen

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