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the eye by conskeptical the eye by conskeptical
depicting the sky, the earth, the woods (including the world tree), the path, and, as it happens, a mosquito, a hedgehog and a boy.


Explanation of The Eye

The image incorporates these elements:

* Mosquito, Hedgehog, Boy
* Path, Woods (including the World Tree)
* Earth, Sky
* The Eye (the unity)

* The Writer (implicitly)
* The Observer (implicitly)

The eye is the overall shape of the image, with the world tree as the pupil/iris, the rim of the earth as the eyelids, and the edge of the sky and bottom of the earth as the edge of the eye.

The eye as the world alludes to the 'consciousness' that pervades the whole world and lends it unity. Perhaps ideas such as dharma or tao or qi can come in here. Or in a more clinical, scientific vocabulary: ideas of information exchange and propogation between all locations of the universe, at all scales.

The world is made up of the earth and the sky. One is material, the other is space. Fullness and emptiness. They are connected by many things. For starters, they are both parts of the eye. Also, they share a very intimate boundary, the entire top surface of the earth, the entire bottom edge of the sky. Also, the world tree extends its roots deeply into the earth, and its trunk, branches and leaves deeply into the sky. The earth/sky boundary is a rich but sharp interface. The world tree provides a bridge: the world tree inhabits and is both the earth and the sky, forming a deep connection between the two.

So the eye encompasses all, the sky is above, the earth is below. To the left are the woods, to the right the path. The path and the woods are related in a similar way to the way the earth and the sky are. The path is wide and dominant to the right, but it branches out and becomes sparser and narrower to the left. The woods are strong to the left, becoming sparser to the right. The interpenetration of the path and the woods is at once like the detailed (indeed, fractal!) interface between the earth and sky, and also like the bridge between the earth and sky formed by the world tree. In the case of the path and the woods the connection is not manifest as a separate object (the world tree), but is implicit in the structure of their relationship.

The world tree connects the path and the woods to the earth and the sky because the world tree is part of the woods, is visited by the path, grows down into the earth and up into the sky.

So the universe is well interrelated here. How do the mosquito, the hedgehog and the boy come in? Well, they are clearer manifestations of movement and impermanence, they also represent new levels of consciousness in the universe. The eye is the most diffuse all-pervading consciousness. The earth and the sky are still very diffuse, but a little more self-contained than the sky. The mosquito is a little bundle of self-contained perception in comparison. The boy is so much further removed that he is almost (but not quite) a divorced being in this sea of consciousness. But they all share the same matter of the universe, just their degree of self-containedness is different. The complexity of the animals gives us a ladder with which to grasp onto the consciousness of the world too: we can ascend from the boy (easy to comprehend), to the hedgehog, to the mosquito, the woods, the path, the earth, the sky, the eye (the hardest to comprehend). Ultimately we might see how they are all the same, and that the boy is not divorced at all.

These three characters, and their interactions with each other and the world can give us insights into the nature of the world which are on all grades of the scale of familiarity to us.

There are two remaining characters. The writer is implicit, the image wouldn't exist without the writer. But because the image reflects the world, the writer must also be inside the image (perhaps he is most like the boy, but also he is the same as all the other parts of the world. He has no real place in this image, but as the image is a metaphorical one, so the writer exists in a metaphorical part of the depicted world!). This is an example of a part of the world containing the whole world (like a pearl on Indra's net), and also of the Eye comprehending itself.

The observer is also implicit. The perspective of the diagram implies that there is a vantage point from which to contemplate the whole world, as an observer. I don't think this is really possible. Again, this is just an example of the Eye contemplating itself, but this time in the role of observer rather than creator.

I think the impossibility of a vantage point from which to view the entire world is only rivalled by the impossibility of being a pure observer (ie, an observer that has no influence on the observed). Perhaps it is fitting that our ideal observer is located at a position that cannot exist, with a view that also cannot exist!

Perhaps it is also telling that an impossible vantage point was chosen as ultimately representative of the entire situation.
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Submitted on
June 1, 2008
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