Paramhansa Yogananda would sometimes gaze lovingly at his disciples and say, “If you only knew how beautiful you are. I see you all as beings of light.”
It’s often challenging to see the best in the world around us, faced as we are with life’s many contrasts: beauty and ugliness, wisdom and folly, integrity and dishonesty, kindness and cruelty, to name but a few.
Yet striving to see other people in their highest light helps them as well as us. I’ve read many stories about young gang members or hardened criminals who were able to turn their lives around because one person saw the goodness in them. They changed because someone saw them as God sees them.
I’ve taken up the practice of inwardly asking, when I see something or someone that evokes a negative reaction in me like judgment or dislike, “Master, how do you see this?” When I imagine my Guru looking at the world through my eyes, it’s amazing how my perception of everything begins to change.
The beautiful, positive things become brighter, clearer, more filled with light. The colors in nature become more intense; the new buds on a tree branch seem bursting with life; the radiant soul nature shines forth from people’s eyes.
On the other hand, there is also in this world a great deal of evil that confronts us. If we try to see it through God’s eyes, then even the darkness takes on a purpose and meaning in the greater scheme of things. Anxiety about the future is replaced by calm understanding that this is God’s world, and He is in charge.
There is a beautiful story from the life of the beloved Christian saint, Francis of Assisi. He was born in 1182, the son of a wealthy merchant in Assisi, Italy. In his youth he had a spiritual conversion, which ultimately led to a vision of Christ, who asked him to rebuild his church. Francis spent the remainder of his life as a humble, wandering beggar, but so great was his sanctity that thousands became converted to a life in God. His spiritual impact continues to this day.
One day as St. Francis was traveling through the countryside, he saw a leper approaching him along the road. Leprosy was something that still evoked revulsion in Francis, and this leper had most of his face eaten away by the terrible disease.
Every instinct in Francis told him to turn and run away, lest he himself become infected, but he controlled this impulse and tried to see the leper as God saw him. With this changed perception, Francis ran up to him, and embraced and kissed him on his disease-ravaged face. Immediately the leper he held in his arms was transformed: before Francis stood the living form of Jesus Christ!
When we try to see the world through God’s eyes, we are able to transcend our limited perspective, and our consciousness is lifted to a higher plane. Vision in God becomes vision of God — of His love and light everywhere.
As Yoganandaji wrote: “When my two eyes that behold both good and evil become single, and behold in everything only the divine goodness of God, I shall see that my body, mind, and soul have become filled with His omnipresent light.”
May God’s vision become your own.