Top Ten Books on Seeing

Ifind it one of the most regrettable features of modern life that we are never taught how to see. These books can help awaken the power of sight and have been inspirational guides in my own journey of striving to awaken to an expanded awareness and a clear, lucid vision. Direct perception remains one of our primary means of understanding self and the world around us.

These books can help awaken the power of sight and have been inspirational guides in my own journey of striving to awaken to an expanded awareness and a clear, lucid vision.

1.) Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

Have you read it? It is nothing short of an observational masterpiece. Thoreau's time at Walden Pond represents a return to himself. It is a journey of awakening and of heightened awareness. "Only that day dawns to which we are awake. . . . To be awake is to be alive". If you read it years ago, it deserves a re-read. If you have never read it, now is the time; it will be well worth your while. It is an enlightened chronicle of one man's simultaneous seeing of self and the world.

2.) The Doors of Perception, by Aldous Huxley

Author of The Perennial Philosophy articulates his experiences with seeing and listening while under the influence of mescaline. A classic document on heightened perception. It is outdated only in the sense that the perceptual awakening is assisted by the use of drugs rather than through the strictly natural methods promoted by Longing for Light.

3.) Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman

Startlingly insightful. Whitman's bold voice and the breadth of his vision is, at times, breathtaking. The book has the capacity to nourish, instruct, and awaken the reader to a genuinely expanded consciousness. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, in an enthusiastic letter to Whitman, "I find incomparable things said incomparably well, as they must be."

4.) And There Was Light, by Jacques Lusseyran

An autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, French writer and teacher, who was blinded in a schoolyard accident at the age of eight. Lusseyran's experiences and his ability to see with his attention are remarkable. A blind man teaches sighted people how to see.

5.) A Separate Reality & Journey To Ixtlan, by Carlos Castaneda

The story of don Juan's instructions to Carlos Castaneda on the nature of seeing and knowing. Don Juan told Carlos: "My predilection is the see, because only through seeing can a man of knowledge know." Classic books on the spiritual quest and on a direct opening to non-ordinary reality.

6.) In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, by P.D. Ouspensky

Ouspensky's magnum opus on the teachings brought to the western world by G.I. Gurdjieff. These teachings reveal the nature of our mechanicalness and of our sleep, and provide methods of self-observation and self-remembering to assist in our awakening. The teachings are remarkable and are brought to life by Ouspensky's clarity and brevity.

7.) The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad, by Ken Wilber

Written from the standpoint of transpersonal psychology, this book is an excellent and well-written integrative vision of a world that equally embraces body, mind, soul, and spirit. One of the best philosophical minds of the baby-boom generation, Wilber distinguished between differing worldviews: the eye of the flesh, the eye of the mind, and the eye of the spirit. Read especially the chapters on Integral Art and Literary Theory.

8.) Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of the Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin, by Lawrence Weschler.

A fascinating book on the life and work of the contemporary Californian artist Robert Irwin who continually returned to the "primacy of perception" as the underpinning of both thought and experience. The totality of his speech upon being proffered an Honorary Doctorate by the San Francisco Art Institute was: "All I want to say is that the wonder is still there."

9.) The Moment of Seeing: Minor White at the California School of Fine Arts, by Stephanie Comer and Deborah Klochko

This book is an illustrated, detailed account of photographer Minor White's early teaching in the 1940's and 50's at the school which is now the San Francisco Art Institute. Founder of Aperture magazine and a legendary teacher of photography, visual perception, and heightened awareness, White's later teaching was primary source material and inspiration for Longing for Light.

10.) Ahead of All Parting, Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, transl. Stephen Mitchell

One of the great guides of the Twentieth Century. Rilke's poetry and prose represent the journey of an individual in the process of awakening. Very inspirational and nourishing. Rilke's deeply felt perceptions serve to awaken a longing for consciousness in the reader.