Chapter 21: Three Looking Techniques
They say nothing is new under the sky. Really, nothing is old under the sky. Only the eyes become old, accustomed to things; then nothing is new. For children everything is new: that is why everything gives them excitement. Even a colored stone on a beach, and they become so excited. You will not be excited even seeing God himself coming to your house. You will not be so excited! You will say, “I know him, I have read about him.” Children are so excited because their eyes are new and fresh, And everything is a new world, a new dimension.
Look at children’s eyes - at the freshness, the radiant aliveness, the vitality. They look mirror-like, silent, but penetrating. Only such eyes can reach within.
So this technique says,
See as if for the first time a beauteous person or an ordinary object.
Anything will do. Look at your shoes. You have been using them for years, but look as if for the first time and see the difference: the quality of your consciousness suddenly changes.
I wonder whether you have seen Van Gogh’s painting of his shoe. It is one of the rarest things. There is just an old shoe - tired, sad, as if just on the verge of death. It is just an old shoe, but look at it, feel it, and you will feel what a long, boring life this shoe must have passed through. It is so sad, just praying to be taken away from life, tired completely, every nerve broken, just an old man, an old shoe. It is one of the most original paintings. But how could Van Gogh see it?
You have even more old shoes with you - more tired, more dead, more sad, depressed, but you have never looked at them, at what you have done to them, how you have behaved with them. They tell a life story about you because they are your shoes. They can say everything about you. If they could write, they would write a most authentic biography of the person they had to live with - every mood, every face. When their owner was in love he behaved differently with the shoes, when he was angry he behaved differently. And the shoes were not concerned at all, and everything has left a mark.
Look at Van Gogh’s painting, and then you will see what he could see in the shoes. Everything is there - a whole biography of the person who was using them. But how could he see? To be a painter, one has to regain the child’s look, the freshness. He can look at everything - at most ordinary things even. He can look!
Cezanne has painted a chair, just an ordinary chair, and you may even wonder. why paint a chair? There is no need. But he worked on that painting for months together. You may have stopped for a single moment to look at it, and he worked for months on it because he could look at a chair. A chair has its own spirit, its own story, its own miseries and happinesses. It has lived! It has passed through life! It has its own experiences, memories. They are all revealed in Cezanne’s painting. But do you look at your chair? No one looks at it, no one feels it.