Awakening is a shift in consciousness in which thinking and awareness are separate. For most people it is not an event but a process they undergo. Instead of being lost in your thinking, when you are awake you recognize yourself as the awareness behind the thinking. Awareness is conscious connection with universal intelligence. Eckhart Toll
It looks like there are two of you. Don’t worry: this is probably a good thing. This is a case where two is better than one.
You are sort of a—well—double being, one who thinks, as Tolle says, and one who is aware.
This may seem strange, but you can see both people when you look at another person.
The two seem to reside in the same head but look at the world differently with each eye.
I first learned about this weirdness from Carlos Castaneda, whose teacher instructed him to look into the other person’s right eye in order to make contact with that person. Look into the person’s left eye, and you won’t make solid contact with the other person, even though you are up close and staring straight into the left eye.
I’ve experimented with this exercise many times, and it seems to me that it is true. Here’s the experiment that I have conducted with many people; try it yourself.
Look into a person’s right eye if you want to make contact. As I play this game, I ask the person if I’m making contact with him or her. My experimental subjects almost always say yes—I’m connecting.
Without telling the other person where I’m looking, I change my focus to the left eye and ask if I’m connecting. Usually, people say no.
Then I move back and forth between the person’s two eyes, asking if I’m connecting. With some people I hit 100%: my subjects say I’m connecting with them every time I gaze into their right eye. They say that I’m not connecting with them—in other words, I’m not seeing them somehow, not recognizing them—when I focus on their left eye.
With a few people the results are more ambiguous. I’m able to predict the connection some of the time, but not all of the time. The only observation that I’ve made about these people is that they are usually young and less well-defined personalities. But I’m sort of guessing about that.
You can see the difference between the left and right eye when you observe talking heads on t.v. Often, especially with powerful people, the two eyes are physically quite different. Even the shape of the eye socket may be different, and the eyes themselves appear to have a different shape and slant where they reside in the eye socket.
Take a look at Donald Trump’s eyes, for instance, the next time you look at a close-up of his head. His eyes are very different.
But most of us are not aware of these obvious physical differences between our two eyes. When I ask Mary, watching t.v. with me, to notice the eye differences in Trump or a myriad of others that we are watching, she says no—she doesn’t see the difference. So noticing the difference between the two eyes requires some practice; keep looking and you will begin to discern the startling contrast.
And you will start looking into the other person’s right eye every time you’re in a conversation and want to connect. I never bother looking into the left eye, because I want the other person to feel that I am recognizing him or her. I am able to connect looking into the other person’s right eye.
Brain science assumes that there is only one of us
Two lobes make up our brain, and brain science says that each lobe has different functions. But if one lobe is damaged, the other lobe can take over some of the functions of the damaged lobe.
Brain science isn’t really able to explain the phenomenon that I observe above, although there may well be a scientific explanation for how the eyes connect with the brain.
Still, science is perhaps permanently limited in its capacity to explain how mysterious we are as life forms.
How can science explain that there may be two of us looking out at any moment?
Who’s looking out from the right eye?
It appears to me that the relatively friendly entity looking back at me from your right eye—or anyone else’s right eye—is your personality. Your personality—that combination of traits, interests, predilections, defenses, strengths and weaknesses—has emerged since childhood as “me,” as in “I gotta’ be me, I gotta’ be me.”
This “me” feels connected to the rest of our species and tries to be successful in its interaction with the billions of other me’s in the world. This me talks—usually a lot—about itself, as if trying desperately to establish itself as a real thing. This me is the husband, the friend, the dad, the brother, the grandfather, the citizen, the employee, playing all the social roles.
This me can make mistakes, get off course, find it hard to be happy, become confused. It can find happiness and joy, too, but usually for short times only. Then it needs to get back to the never-ending job of presenting itself to the world and to surviving.
This me is the ego. the mostly false self that lives in a bubble, seeing only itself in the reflection. This part of us can be stupid, stuck, depressed, crazy, violent, conformist, or any number of weaknesses that allows us to predict what this me will do next
When we engage with our fellow humans, the person we see when we look into the right eye, we are addressing the other person’s personality, the other person’s ego.
You may not be satisfied with what you get when you relate to this personality, but it’s the only person you’re going be able to connect with.
The other one of us is looking out of the left eye. This “other,” you could say “our double,” is powerful, observing, detached, unflappable, fearless, constantly assessing, the explorer.
When the “me” doesn’t interfere with its endless neediness and misinterpretations, the “the other” is able to see everything. It is pure awareness, observing without blinking. It doesn’t judge, it doesn’t interpret, it doesn’t need anything. Human chaos may surround it on all sides, but whatever is behind the left eye, other people can’t influence it, persuade it, or control it in any way.
Maybe the “other” in each of us is what the Bible calls God, when it issues the puzzling claim that god is within us. Maybe the “other” within us is that which sees and know all.
When you stare into another person’s left eye, you will not see emotion, sympathy or any other feeling that will allow you to relate to this person. You will see only pure awareness observing you and the world around you.
Should “me” be running your life?
The personality, the “me,” is running most people’s lives. All of our socialization has convinced us that the personality should be the supreme ruler of our unfolding lives. It’s the me that creates the melodrama of our lives.
Thus the comic assertion, much-admired, “I gotta be me.”
The trouble with this assertion is that our personalities are often stupid, confused, and even violent. So, most of us in the “me” mode are hard to be around at times.
We’re difficult to be married to. It can be awful at times to be our child. We’re difficult to be friends with; that’s why we have so few of them. It can be difficult to work with us on the job.
“Me” seems to have an insatiable need to draw attention to itself, to gain support, to rationalize its big array of bad explanations for what is happening.
“Me” is either talking too much about itself, raging silent and depressed over imagined hurts and disappointments, or actively battling others to defend itself or assert its importance.
Who would want “me” to run my life? Looks like my life will be volatile and melodramatic with “me” in charge. Left unassisted by our double (pure awareness), “me” is slow to learn and almost impossible to change.
Can the “other” be put in charge of our lives?
Can the observer, pure awareness, looking out from our brain though the left eye, run our daily life?
Well, not really. The observer can’t act, exactly, but can only observe. Its great contribution is that it never lies. Given complete freedom from the personality’s inhibitions, fears, self-aggrandizement, and enthusiasms of the moment, the observer is able to see all.
So, the observer can only see, guide and silently instruct the “me.”
Can the observer learn? Yes, over time the observer can see more and more, hear more and more. That left eye of ours, once we acknowledge it fully, can accumulate knowledge and skill. It needs only exercise and freedom to roam.
Can the personality learn? In a way, the “me” can learn, but—only if it can quiet down enough to align with the observer and what is observed.
The observer is always silent, claiming no particulars, but exploring the vast world outside the human cognitive system.
In a kind of weird partnership with the observer, the personality, the “me,” can learn to give up its supremacy and ultimately disappear. Over time “me” can learn that it is mostly stupid and does best in service to the observer.
Thus, the personality, through recapitulating its lifelong folly, can learn to become humble and alert, deferring most of the time to the observer within. With the partnership of our own pure awareness, the personality can examine everything in our lives, and can come to understand its own noisy mistakes. In this process, the ego becomes less and less powerful and is finally pretty much silenced.
The personality does its performance as a character in the world, but ultimately can follow the silent direction of the observer, a far superior guide.
The observer, as the personality dries up, takes precedence. As Tolle says in the quote above, this is a process. In this growth of consciousness, we quiet down, stop thinking all of time, and begin to discover a world much larger than we ever imagined before.
What’s it like with the observer in charge?
Personal power can only be developed by allowing the observer in us to be in charge. We can then see everything with sharp clarity. With clarity, we make the right moves, we flow with the universe, looking, looking breathlessly out of our left eye.
Around us, most people in our lives will continue their life as “me.” They can contact us by looking into our right eye. There they will see us sweating and straining like everyone else, being nice to others, living life on a path of love, quiet and unassuming, noticeably without ego.
But we won’t be sweating and straining like everyone else. We will only be acting. We will know that we are acting. We will be acting in order to participate in this marvelous life with our fellow humans.
We won’t be giving any of our precious energy to maintaining the “me,” although those close to us may think they “know” us.
“Me” isn’t really home anymore; only its shadow remains, a ghost of our
Meanwhile, we become more and more pure consciousness, playing in the fields of the lord.