Play this talk Download this talk in MP3 format Order this talk on CD for £5.00 including postage and packing
Listen to today’s talk: Mind: Psyche: Karma (II)
beingtrulyhuman.orgBeing Truly Human
To listen to talks while browsing our website, please enable Flash or HTML 5 in your browser — click here to find out how
Talks play in the Media Player at the top of the page — you can continue to browse our website while you listen
Items have been added to your shopping cart — click here to view it and complete your order

The Art of Seeing

By George Piggott

A talk given at the Phiroz Mehta Trust Summer School at Stamford Hall, Leicester, on 8th August 1997

Part 2

We now have to be very careful, because it is easy to jump in with both feet and say, “If I can find a way to dispense with this ‘I’, and if I can be self-less, that’s the answer.” But it is not the answer. The “I” at times can be beneficial, it is not all negative, as we tend to think. If you have an experience where you have not been paying attention, for instance, if you are on a busy road and you step off the kerb without looking, and you nearly get knocked down, the shock to your system can be really quite tremendous. You step back, and suddenly realise in that instance that one more pace forward and you could have been hit by a vehicle. The next time you are confronted with a very busy road, you are very much aware of what happened before and you watch out for the traffic. The “I” steps in because the “I” now does not want you to get injured, it is saying, “I must be careful and look after this body.” So in that sense the “I” becomes useful. It is not a case of obliterating the “I”, because that is normally impossible.

In rare cases somebody might be able to get rid of the “I” in the sense that they become a selfless person. We have seen this with Phiroz and generally accepted that he was a selfless man. But we are talking about rarities here. All we are saying is, see it for what it is in its entirety, come to terms with it, see how much of a nuisance it can be, and also see the side where it can be beneficial to us. The dispensing with the “I” totally is not really the object of the exercise. The object of the exercise is the art of seeing, and the art of seeing is seeing the two as they are and marrying them, and being content with seeing them as they are. When you go into looking at the opposites which surround us, on face value they look totally separated because of our conditioning and because we have not really stopped to look. If you take a sheet of white paper on its own, you say, “Anyone can see that that’s white”, and that’s right. But if you want to see the luminosity of that whiteness, and put the whiteness against a black background, the black enhances the white, it brings out the whiteness, and the whiteness shows you the density of the black.

Please do not accept this as something being said to you. See it as a direct experience and make your own mind up. If you dismiss it and say no, that is fair enough. But if you see that with the black and white together you have a clearer, more direct experience, then you must take that on board surely. You have learnt something. And this is where the work starts. Just look at all the opposites that you can think of, just make a comparison and see what comes up in your mind. See if you can see something that you did not see before. Then you can move on to other things. It is this moving on that the work is about, and that is what is exhausting and tiring, because your enthusiasm gets you going, you are looking at all sorts of things, not just the opposites, you are analysing and learning. It is not just a case of waiting for the speaker to arrive to give another talk. It is the in-between time. You are doing the work through your own efforts and you are self-taught. If you want to be a successful painter, you can go to an art school and have a brilliant master. He shows you the rudiments, but that is all he can do. The work takes place in your practice.

So we have come to terms with the “I” and we can see quite clearly that it is an impostor. Here I would like to read something to get things in perspective. This is an extract from a book written by Susan A. Greenfield, A Journey to the Centres of the Mind:

It could be that the brain would possess a greater capacity for consciousness as the number of operational neuronal connections increased. In the human cortex there is an awesome number of neurons, approximately 10 billion, but the astonishing figure is the number of connections in the cortex, about one million billion. To count one of these connections each second would take 32 million years, and even more stunning than the number of connections is the way the number of connections can be combined. The number of combinations that can be formed from the number of connections in the cortex is many times greater than the number of positively charged particles in the known universe, a number so great that we cannot give it a meaningful name.

To me, that is an awesome statement. The connections are more than the charged particles in the universe! You reflect on that for weeks on end, and then you think, “I get to the top of the stairs sometimes, and I wonder what I came up for. I’ve forgotten why I’m here”. For example, the talk this morning. It was very profound and I got lost in the complexity of it. Then I wonder why I could not understand it with all this potential. So there is a big question mark in the mind. Why is it I have all that and yet I cannot understand the simple things, and why is it when I think I am looking I do not see as I think I see? We sit back and think that things do not quite add up. There is a conflict here somewhere.

The strange thing is that when you are looking you are making decisions and judgements. When you are waiting for the bus and you are late in the morning, you are looking at your watch and up the road, and saying, “I wonder if I’m going to get to work on time.” So whilst you are looking, this in here is analysing and trying to make judgements and decisions. If you watch the process within you will find that this is happening all the time.

Another thing you discover is that when you are looking out there at something simple, you find that from simplicity grows complexity. You go to buy a sheet of paper, and somebody says, “Are you going to send it abroad, what about colour, size, etc?” You can be an hour while they explain about writing paper. So from a simple sheet of paper, you are now in a complex world of paper. In the supermarket, there is not just one kind of sauce, there are dozens, so you have got to take them down and read the labels.

So in what used to be a simple operation with just two, there are now fifty. Everything has got very complex. The strange thing about it is that it very rarely goes the other way round. When have you seen something very complex reduced to something so simple you can understand it?

You have a football. It is a piece of hide or a piece of plastic, filled with air, the simplest thing you can get. That same ball will hold 75,000 people at a stadium transfixed for an hour and a half. It will raise emotions, people get angry, there are even fights, there’s tremendous competitiveness, there are players costing millions of pounds, there is tremendous money to be made. The whole thing is built up to a mass of complexity. Walk onto the field and take away the simplicity, the ball, which we have already discovered is the most simple part of it. Everything stops, the game’s over, the players can’t play, the cheering stops, nobody makes any money, and the competitiveness is finished. That simple ball has kept the whole thing going. When you look at that in its entirety and can see into it, it is unbelievable that that little ball full of air can get all that lot wound up. It is all revolving round that one ball. And you think, “That brain with all that potential, and there’s that little ball.” You try and tie the two together. That’s something to reflect on.

Part 1 Part 2


I love the football analagy "take away the simplicity and everthing stops". (The heart sutra, Form is void but the void also is form.) I think this should be submited to the Daily Mirror Sports page, might just wake someone up to who and what they realy are.

Henry Cowell

This is the most true article I read on this subject. The Art of Seeing this is what it is all about.

Sina Karim Khani

Tell us what you thought of this article: