Why the Looking is Not a Practice (and Why it Sorta is…)

One of the things that confuses matters needlessly when applying the action of looking at you occurs when it gets put into the category of spiritual practices. This subtle category error can trip people up pretty badly and can stymie the usefulness of the looking.

One of the ways I get clear on this distinction is by referencing the old adage, "practice makes perfect." I happen to think that is a good saying to keep handy when you are actually engaging in practices, but you can see how it can mess things up a bit when you are not actually doing a practice. Looking at you is not something you get better at. It's not a skill you can refine or a technique you can master. There are no degrees of looking, as referenced by the saying, "practice makes perfect." You are either looking at you, or you are not. This is not something you can perfect.

It's like looking at the ceiling. When you are looking at the ceiling, you are not looking at the floor. Those are two different things to look at. It's the same with looking at you. You either are, or you are not. There are no two ways about it. The difficulty arises in the beginning. This stems from our lack of familiarity with what we are. This is something culture does not, and cannot, address. This is simply because what you are can't be put into words. Culture works through words. Because of that, in matters of looking at you, you are on your own. Which, I suppose, has a certain poetic appropriateness.

It can take a while for you to know that you are looking at you. It sounds kind of weird to say that since the one thing that is always present in every circumstance you find yourself in is you. You are, by far, the most common denominator in your life. However, it is true. Taking a direct look at ourselves is something we rarely do. It's like being in a bedroom of a person who digs stuffed animals. A lot. They say, "look at the blue monkey", and for a moment we are flabbergasted. It doesn't make any sense. We are not used to blue monkeys. Then we actually take a look around, and sure enough, there's the blue monkey, right next to the pink dinosaur. In my own case, I stumbled around with this action of looking for two full months before I "got it." It might take a while, it might not. It's also the case that it might not be a conscious thing when you do finally zero in on the target. For me, it was quite distinct. My mind was blown. Others I have spoken with who have taken up this suggested action have had much more subtle experiences with it. So it goes.

The other way in which the looking might be considered a practice is in the same way that someone might make a practice out of cleaning their sink every day. This is not something you get better at per se (although you might get quicker and more efficient at it), rather it is a thing you do with regularity to reap the benefits. The act of looking at you definitely has those, the chief of which is the washing away of accumulated lies about you.

The point here is that, if you think of the looking as something you work at getting better at, you will be missing the point. By a wide margin.

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