Goethe, the great Renaissance man, placed great emphasis on the art of “seeing.” Goethe believed that the manner in which one sees has a tremendous impact upon what one is really “seeing.”
Due to Goethe’s unique manner of observation while seeing, he was able to recognize a total organization or unity of the world while noting the diversity of its parts.
Observing in Goethe’s manner, when one observes a phenomenon a person needs to be more active in their “seeing” than what is usually done. We tend to think about seeing as just opening our eyes in front of an event and we are observing something that is flowing toward us, into our consciousness, through our senses.
In Goethe’s manner of “seeing,” we look from ourselves toward the phenomenon. This is accomplished through putting our attention into seeing, so that we really do see what we are seeing, rather than just having impressions imprinting themselves upon our consciousness.
Goethe called his manner of seeing, ‘exact sensorial imagination.’ After “seeing” a phenomenon, Goethe would repeat the event within his imagination. His goal was to think the event concretely in his imagination without leaving anything out or adding anything other than what took place. The actions of ‘active seeing’ along with the activity of creating within the imagination, was Goethe’s discipline of ‘exact sensorial imagination.’ Goethe’s intent was to give ‘thinking more the quality of perception and sensory observation more the quality of thinking.
Goethe’s goal through the use of this discipline was to bring the observer into a deeper contact with each experience, in a manner that was not possible, by just having a momentary intellectual thought regarding an event that came in through the eye.
“Imagine cutting an orange. We see the knife and orange simply as separate entities which are brought together externally in space and sequentially in time.” Through Goethe’s discipline, what is added to our normal experience, is bringing our attention to the act of cutting the orange, instead of the separate entities which are brought together. If this is done, the process of cutting can be experienced simultaneously as one whole, as if it were one present moment instead of a linear sequence of instants.”
We generally operate mentally through observing linear sequences of various states or actions. We get involved in describing changes rather than being in the moment with the ultimate reality of the situation or phenomenon taking place. Through this change in “seeing,” one is not altering their consciousness but realizing the relationship and togetherness of various elements that are before their eyes.
This manner of “seeing” involves placing attention into seeing rather than just allowing the intellectual mind to instantaneously catalogue some event or action and store it in the mind. Placing greater attention into seeing, will transform routine phenomenon into deeper meaningful experiences that carry an individual from an ordinary intellectual manner of living, to a more rich and varied world of sensory perception.
As an example, in the case of a person viewing two leaves, “the intellectual mind is concerned with what is common to them, in other words immediately decides they are both leaves, and overlooks the individual differences between them. In the exact sensorial imagination, the leaves are not uniform and have endless variety as well as being rich in diversity.”
When our consciousness is redirected into an organ of perception, looking into the world rather than just receiving input through our eyes, ‘the mind functions intuitively instead of intellectually.’ Through this discipline of placing the event into the imaginative state, intuition is activated and stimulated within an individual. It is a subject that has deep ramifications and can open our awareness to greater perceptions. I have shared only some basic aspects of Goethe’s discipline in order to bring this concept into your awareness.
Exploring deeper within this concept of true observation we come upon a dictum of the ancients which stated, you can learn more about;
The unseen by observing the seen
The unfamiliar by observing the familiar
The unknown by observing the known.
Perhaps the above lines do not appear to make too much sense unless you understand the ancient philosophy of the Doctrine of Emanations. The deeper concept of the Doctrine of Emanations is that all derived or secondary things proceed or flow from the more primary. It was understood by some wise individuals that by taking time to ‘really see’ an effect, this means to truly understand what you are “seeing,” an individual could intuit back from that effect to its original cause. From the seen to the unseen. This holds true for any visible action or activity in humans or in nature.
By “seeing” activities in nature one can intuit the fundamental invisible patterns that have led to the visible presence. By “seeing” the activities of people, one can know the previous unseen causes from this living and possible influences from prior livings.
Remember, we all have this capability of a more profound “seeing” as a part of our creation. Isn’t life grand and exciting with so many possibilities for an even greater enjoyment and understanding of life?
To inspire and empower with love, in love and through love.