Kids Corner


Stop, Look and See
The Talking Stick Collloquium # 76





While in India recently, I happened to shuffle through some old books and papers from my school days in the late 60’s.

A red-colored volume whose title was no longer visible had a short piece titled, "Stop, Look and See!" It was written by one John Kord Lagemann and certainly got my attention.

I want to share some insights from that piece.

The premise of the article was that although we have physical eyes, we fail to see. Seeing, like hearing, is taken for granted.

As I read the piece, I could not but help think of Guru Arjan’s admonition, made in a similar vein:

Nanak, those eyes, with which the Creator can be seen, are different  [GGS:1100]

The Bible, too, observes, “Do you have eyes but fail to see?” [Mark, 8:18]

Clearly, gurmat (and the article) are not referring to ordinary day-to-day seeing through our physical eyes. We are being asked to cultivate the eyes of understanding so that the world may become more visible and we develop the capacity to see things differently from our pre-conceived notions.

It is also called “out of the box” thinking, implying that our habits and conditioning harden the patterns of what we see. Too often, we see what we want to see and miss out on the infinite beauty and variety of ordinary life.

How does one cultivate the eyes of understanding?

One technique, suggested by Ernst Haas, the Austrian photographer, as told to the author of the piece I referred to above, is called “framing.” The idea behind this method is that the world is simply too big to take in all at once. Much as a photographer “frames” what he wants to shoot, we need to focus on a small, selective part of the world and shut out the rest.

Practicing “framing” will reveal patterns and shapes in ordinary objects that otherwise escape us.

“No matter where we go, we are surrounded by pictures, “ Haas says. “The trick,” he adds, “is to recognize them. Look!”

To appreciate this way of looking requires nothing more than the desire and will to Stop, Look and See! The frame can be sized or scaled to any size you like. Haas suggests looking into a lily or an ice cube to appreciate William Blake’s assertion that it was possible to “see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower.”

How many of us know (or have seen) that the grains of wet sand on a beach never actually touch each other? Which is why the sand is never crushed to powder no matter how hard it is pounded. Just a matter of looking differently!

Similarly, Guru Amar Das reminds us in Anand Sahib to see the world differently: “The world you see is the form of the One.” [GGS: 992]

Here is advice to see the world with fresh eyes - in every moment.

To see differently requires only that we break the habitual, that we step out of our cultural entrancement.

Why do we need to develop the capacity to see differently? Quite simply, because cultivating this capacity develops our awareness of the Creation around us. The greater and more intense our awareness of this Creation, the more alive we are.

In the article, the author quotes Haas, the photographer, to say that the wonderful power of seeing the world in one’s own unique way gives the artist his or her own style. All of us possess this ability - it is especially evident in children. But we suppress it, as we grow older out of fear of appearing different!

In conclusion, the article says that while the maxim, ‘seeing is believing,’ is true enough, seeing is actually living.

The more vividly you learn to see, the more alive you are.


Sikh teaching tells us that there is a capacity within us to see beyond our natural eyesight. It advises us to sharpen our spiritual senses so that we can see through the "eyes" of Waheguru, that is, see beyond the fog of our own ego.

How do we anoint our eyes (the eyes of our Surat) with the eyeliner of the Guru’s teaching?


March 5, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), March 05, 2012, 1:41 PM.

I believe the Guru is advising us to see the truth hidden and dominated by the lies around it. Truth and lies are essentially praise of the creator versus worldly distractions/ attachments. Many more things can be broadly categorized into these two categories based on a person's position and stage in life. This is called seeing from the heart, i.e., from consciousness and conscience.

2: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), March 05, 2012, 2:48 PM.

The great 19th Century artist and social reformer, John Ruskin, wrote: "To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one."

3: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, U.S.A..), March 05, 2012, 5:46 PM.

GGS:397: "The Lord of Nanak was clearly visible to him". God is larger than all worlds and scriptures.

4: Prakash.Singh.Bagga (India), March 06, 2012, 2:21 AM.

I think it is important to understand how we see things around us. In fact, we see nothing directly. What we see is the image of objects before us through the reflection of light. In order to "see" the Creator, we should develop the ability to recognize his image in everything we "see", otherwise He'll remain elusive.

5: R. Singh (Canada), March 06, 2012, 5:40 AM.

We get distracted by our own interpretations of the worldly images we see around us, to the point that we fail to comprehend the singularity that lies behind them. We skim the surface while the treasure remains hidden!

6: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 06, 2012, 9:52 AM.

God is invisible. According to gurbani, he is Nirankar (formless). No one can see Him, but He can be realized by a spiritual warrior. Once His presence is realized within, foresight of that person will increase multifold. This all depends upon the state of mind of a person (gurumukh) practicing spiritual life. Here again, grace of Akal Purakh is the prime factor.

7: Manjeet Shergill (Singapore), March 07, 2012, 9:25 AM.

If one decides to see the world as a fine-art painter, one gets the training to fine-tune the human eye to not see form but see light-shaping forms. A musician, I'm told, has to fine-tune the ears to listen to the different qualities of sounds. To stop, stand and see is a luxury in a busy world.

8: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), March 07, 2012, 12:01 PM.

The Creator cannot be 'seen' without His Grace.

9: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, U.S.A..), March 08, 2012, 5:06 PM.

Guru Arjan [GGS:724] - "jo deesai so tayraa roop" - "All that we see is His form". All attributes belong to Him.

10: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), March 10, 2012, 12:41 AM.

From gurbaniee, we learn that anything visible is perishable. "jo upjey so sagal binaase rahan na kou paave" [GGS:1231].

11: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, U.S.A..), March 10, 2012, 7:42 PM.

"Upjey" means creation. Anything that is created is visible and perishable. However, we see and glorify God in all of His creation in this world.

12: Prakash.Singh.Bagga (Indore, India), March 11, 2012, 9:35 AM.

We believe that God is formless. Then how is it possible to see and glorify God in the various forms of His creation?

13: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, U.S.A..), March 11, 2012, 3:02 PM.

Japji Sahib: "jaytaa keetaa taytaa naa-o". Whatever God has created is His Name and form. His manifestations reveal His glory.

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The Talking Stick Collloquium # 76"

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