Seeing Through the One Who Sees
by Sharon Rockey
It was a bright autumn morning –the kind that makes you want to go out and kick up crispy leaves on a hiking trail. But I’d have been happy doing just about anything other than sitting there under those flickering fluorescent lights waiting for the clothes dryers to stop spinning.
Nothing about the morning had hinted that I was about to journey back into a beautiful defining moment in my life. Not until that teenage boy pulled up on his bicycle, grabbed a stack of free magazines from his wire basket and brought them inside.
I picked one up and gave it a quick glance. It didn’t offer anything special and I was about to toss it aside when an ad caught my eye. It seemed like a silly request–“Send us a description of your earliest childhood concepts of a Supreme Being.”
I could already picture the scene in the editor’s office with a desk buried under countless letters all describing the Great White-Bearded Patriarchal Scorekeeper watching everything from somewhere in the sky. As I was pondering the dubious value of such an exercise, my mind flashed on a vivid childhood experience–one that transcended all my own concepts.
It was during one of our cold clear Midwestern winter nights. The backyard was heaped with snowdrifts glistening in the light of a full moon. I rubbed my hands together to stay warm and watched as my father removed his heavy binoculars from the case, adjusting them for the narrow face of a seven-year-old.
He helped me focus the eyepiece on the round cratered surface rising above us. While moon-gazing was a favorite pastime, no amount of childish searching for the face on the moon could have prepared me for the shock of this brilliant white image that came blazing through the lenses.
There, for the very first time, was something that had been there all along–an enormous and wondrous sight with dimension, shadows and light, and details of unbelievable beauty. A flood of thoughts and feelings swept through me too quickly to identify. I felt as if I had just been initiated into an inner circle whose secrets would never be revealed in second-grade science books. At the same time, there was a fleeting uneasy stirring like some vague connection to dark and ancient occult mysteries. The sensations swirling around me were almost too much to bear.
My father was taking great pleasure in having led me to this discovery. He helped me balance the weight of the binoculars against a fence post and for a few moments he quietly withdrew to another corner of the yard leaving me all alone with the moon. I stood there in helpless silence until my awe and wonder could no longer be contained. It was then that something unexplainable broke through.
First, a rush of warmth and stillness, then as if being lovingly plunged into liquid space while some vast unseen lens was brought into focus, all sense of separation between the moon and me dissolved. No more “a moon and a me”, but rather a timeless witnessing in which all my thoughts effortlessly ceased to exist.
After what must have been only a moment or two, I became aware of a longing for more and instantly I was back, binoculars in hand, a child looking at the moon. I didn’t understand what had just happened or why it had seemed so organic and intimately familiar. I only knew that it had somehow left me feeling naked. Maybe that’s why I never mentioned to my father or to anyone else what had really happened that night. What exactly does one say about an experience for which there are no words?
It would be many years before the mystery would gradually begin to unravel. The answer was waiting in the writings and teachings of poets and masters like Sri Ramana Maharshi, Rumi, Eckhart Tolle, and others. Each imparts the message in their own way, but all have realized that there is no observer, that there is nothing to observe, that there is only Observing.
Or, in the words of the poet Wu-Men, “One instant is Eternity. Eternity is the Now. When you see through this Instant you see through the One Who Sees.”