Timeless Spirit Logolifetalks

A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. May's Theme: "Vision"
Volume 2 Issue 4 ISSN# 1708-3265

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To See With New Eyes

with Dawn Baumann Brunke

I remember the first time I actually saw through the eyes of an animal. I had been reading books about shape-shifting and was wondering what it would be like to join in consciousness and view the world through the eyes of another. A few days later, it happened; though so suddenly and surprisingly I quickly shook myself from this change in perspective before I really had a chance to look around. How it happened was this:

One summer day, I was lying on the ground in a mountainous area watching clouds when a bald eagle glided overhead. As my eyes followed the eagle in a rather careless way--for I was not really thinking of anything--my vision unexpectedly shifted, so somehow, strangely, I was also seeing from the eagle's eyes. It was such an abrupt shift in vision I blinked and squinted and bolted upright. However, there was no mistaking my feeling I had seen through the eyes of that eagle for a few precious seconds.

While describing the event to a friend over lunch, I had difficulty conveying what this new type of visual experience was like. "I want to say it's like a split screen in a television set," I explained, "but that's not exactly right. Maybe it's more like a picture within a picture--but that's not quite it either." Then I held out my hands, one in front of the other but slightly to the side and overlapping, so that you could see both at once. Yes, that was similar, I thought, for in shifting focus from one hand to the other you could still see the other, but not with the same degree of focus. It was like this with the eagle, I said, for I had momentarily shifted my perception to another way of seeing while still holding my usual perception as well.

"Could you see clearer?" asked my friend. I explained that it wasn't so much a clearer (as in better) way of seeing as a qualitatively different way of seeing. This is why to describe in words what I saw from the eagle's perspective is already to lose sense of what it was like. Concepts such as 'mountains,' 'land,' and 'water' (ways in which I might have described the scene) were not part of the eagle's consciousness, not part of his way of seeing.

I later came to compare this to the unnerving experience of waking from a dream very suddenly and not being able to place where you are. You may see what you formerly knew as bed, mirror and dressing table, but it's as if they don't make sense because the larger part of you is still in that other reality in which the categories of bed, mirror and dressing table don't exist in the same way. And then, when you do 'wake up' to your normal perception it's very difficult to return to that other way of seeing--thus, equally difficult to describe. Of course, everything now makes sense 'here', because you are suddenly back in your normal, human-reality format which has categories and can instantly classify bed, mirror and dressing table in a way you, and other humans, can understand.

As I thought about it more, I realized my shift to eagle vision didn't so much show me the reality of my perception was different, but that my perception of reality was different.

Many months later, I began working with my canine friend, Barney, in exploring the practical nature of shape-shifting. Barney had previously shared with me his expertise in this subject and was now encouraging me to consciously shift the shape of my vision so that I could "ride along and see the world" with a variety of species: birds, fish, mammals and, occasionally, Barney himself.

As Barney noted, "Much of the experiential process regarding shape-shifting is about shifting one's velocity to match another's 'bandwidth,' if you will. You are very focused with your own preferred method of vision and seeing. To shape-shift requires a new set of eyes, a new mode of perceiving. This requires releasing old matter, old holds and patterns, old habits, and old ways of being. So, you have to unlearn some of your body's manners of perceiving the world in order to enable you to even take in the new.

"At first, this may feel like a blending--a gradual shifting to plant or animal or other vibrational form in which you can sense that being's bandwidth. Complete or more conscious shape-shifting entails more conscious awareness, of course, but this is the beginning. One begins by gleaning the pattern of another--by hopping along the vibrational continuum in order to experience another level or form of being, another form of the One.

"Does this set things in perspective?" Barney asked.

I pondered. "So, in this instance, the 'shift' in shape-shifting is about trying on a variety of perspectives in order to experience other versions of the world? It's all about perspective?"

"Perspective is a combination of one's software (eyes, brain circuitry, how one interprets and perceives the world) and the existence of nature both as it is and as it is perceived," answered Barney (apparently wearing his Mr. Scientist hat). "There are many subtleties involved here, but on a basic level, you need to keep in mind that your human perception of nature and another animal's perception of nature are two different things. They coincide on some things for you--a meeting place of those experiences, which are in your world and those in the experiential world of the animal, myself for example.

"What I mean to explain to you is, there are numerous versions of nature existing simultaneously. Some things do not exist for me in the way they exist for you, and vice versa. This will become more apparent as you begin to work with other beings and see through their eyes. In all cases, remember to deepen, to centre. You can do this at any time, in any and every moment."

Indeed, every perceptual experience of the world (any world) is an invitation to look deeper and ever more keenly. It's really nothing new, as everything we know 'out there' is in direct reflection with the level of our perceptions 'in here.' And what if we go further still, freeing ourselves from the distinctions of 'in here' and 'out there'? In his classic, The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley

observes: "To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large--this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone."

As I have learned from Barney and so many other animals--raven, goldfish, lion, moose--shape-shifting is a wonderful way to shake up not only our perceptions of the world but our notions about the world itself. Depth of vision requires depth of self, and it isn't necessarily what we see that changes when we deepen in ourselves; rather, it is the way in which we see. To open to a different quality of vision, to see with new eyes, is truly a gift on the path to awakening.

Dawn Baumann Brunke is the author of Animal Voices: Telepathic Communication in the Web of Life and Awakening to Animal Voices: A Teen Guide to Telepathic Communication with All Life. Both books explore the deeper nature of our relationship with animals, nature, each other and ourselves. For more, see Dawn's website.

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