Moving from the Realm of Visions to the Realm of Seeing
Here we move from the realm of visions to the realm of seeing. A person can develop an ability to see the essence directly, as it is. The imagination is not involved here. What is involved is the operation of an inner eye, a certain organ of perception that can see inner experience. The pictures are then clear. They have a definite meaning and significance and completely correspond with the direct experience of the presence of essence. This kind of experience is calm and steady, without the excitement and emotionality of visions. The person can look at essence and investigate it, as if he is using a telescope or a microscope. This is the “seeing” that Don Juan talks about in Carlos Castaneda's books. The individual is now a seer, not a visionary. The old sages of India were called seers because they had this essential faculty of seeing. The more the individual is grounded in the embodied experience of essence, the more accurate his perception and the less it is influenced by the subjective mentality of his personality. The seeing, just like the presence of essence, can become a permanent presence, not an isolated happening. Whenever the person wants to see, he just looks.
The Relation of Visions to the Essential Experience is Like the Relation of Dreams to the Reality they Express
There is very often a connection between essence and vision, but usually the connection is concealed from the visionary. However, if this connection is seen and understood, then the person can use the vision to contact essence directly. What happens is that the individual experiences a taste of essence but is not directly aware of it. His contact with essence touches him in a deep way and produces deep emotions, which are translated in the mind into religious symbols and images. In some cases the images come first, and seeing the images provokes deep religious emotions. The individual is usually aware only of the images and emotions. But these are simply reverberations in the mind of the contact with essence. The relation of visions to the essential experience is like the relation of dreams to the reality they express. The dreams are distorted and symbolic images of processes that the dreamer is not directly aware of. Obviously, if the person focuses his attention on the images and emotions of a vision, he will miss entirely the true underlying reality, the presence of essence. The visionary experiences will seem unique and special and will not be used to deepen understanding. Often the person feels blessed, and the people around him consider him to be spiritual. The individual actually is blessed, but he is blessed by the contact with essence, not by the vision. In fact, the vision, as we have seen, can be a barrier, a veil over the real essential experience. The vision is not an objective perception. It is very much formed and colored by the particular person's history and present mentality. This is why Christians have Christian visions, Jews have Jewish visions, Hindus have Hindu visions, Buddhists have Buddhist visions, and so on. These experiences, although they might be called religious or spiritual, are not yet the perception and the experience of our true nature, our essence, the truth that is in us.
Visions are More Like Fantasies, Manifestations in the Mental Realm
The seeing I am discussing is not necessarily images arising in the mind. It is not what people call visions, because visions are more like fantasies—manifestations in the mental realm. People who are more visual than others sometimes have visions, but this does not mean they are necessarily seeing their inner state. They may be seeing something happening—a presence, a shape, or an event, and this can be a spiritual experience—but that is different from the direct seeing of where you are. The seeing we are discussing means actually perceiving your state. So when the Black arises, you see blackness. You see luminous blackness that shimmers, almost like a black satin curtain that is moving slightly in the wind. This is the pure seeing of the Black Essence, not a vision. But sometimes the inner states do present themselves in images that have symbolic meaning. For example, some people have difficulty seeing the Green Essence as it is—just a pure emerald green presence—so they see a green valley in their hearts. But we can go beyond the images and just see the pure state. In any case, it is useful to be able to distinguish, for instance, between an image arising in your consciousness and what you are seeing that is actually present in your heart or your belly.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 321
Visions are Not Yet the True Experience of Reality
Visions fall within the second category of knowledge. They are not yet the true experience of reality. Here we understand how the psychologist Carl Jung fell short of understanding essence. He got closer to the experience by his formulation of the archetypal images, but images, as we see, are not the essence. He saw essence, in all of its archetypes, as images that came clearest in visions and dream images. His own experience was from images in dreams and visions in his waking hours. In fact, all of his archetypes are images of certain essential states but are not the essential states. He saw the self, for instance, as a very deep archetypal image that gives us certain deep experiences and impels us toward certain actions. But in reality, the image itself is a production of essence, or more accurately, the response of the mentality of a particular person to the presence of the essential experience of self. A person might have deep emotional feelings about the archetypal image of self, but this is not the same as experiencing the essential self.