Symbolic Sight: An Individual Experience

Seeing with the 'Mind's Eye'
In my last post (Reflections in a Global Mirror) I said that symbolic sight is the ability to discern the deeper significance of both extraordinary and mundane events. This is an example of how two very mundane occurrences in one individual's life had implications for the whole of humanity; it demonstrates when the use of symbolic sight or ‘seeing with the mind’s eye’ not only solved a particular problem but had a global impact.

          Ben Carson is an African-American neurosurgeon best known for his pioneering work in separating conjoined twins. Carson, who had hung around gangs and struggled during his early school years but excelled in higher education, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the USA. His auto-biography, Gifted Hands, is also available as a DVD.  
          In 1987 Carson made medical history by becoming the first surgeon to successfully separate German Siamese twins joined at the head. This type of operation had been done several times in the past but one or both of the conjoined had died through exsanguination; they bled to death. Having agreed to do the operation, Carson kept putting off naming a date; something bothered him. He had not yet came up with the answer for how to approach the operation to give both babies the optimal chance of survival.  He had not yet accessed the deeper knowledge he needed. 

          Carson’s mother had always told him anything was possible; that all he needed to know reside neither in books nor in experimentation, they were just the door openers. All the knowledge he required was already written in his mind/brain book.
     At a point in time Carson was observing the drip, drip of the tap in the kitchen sink and watched until the drips formed into slower and slower droplets and ceased. That event triggered a thought.  Some time later, while playing a game of solitary pool, Carson watched a cue ball roll along the green baize. He visualized it moving in ultra slow motion, until the ball plopped into a pocket.
     Something clicked in Carson’s brain.  In that moment he understood how to translate the relationship between velocity and time into the optimal sequence and speed of activity to be undertaken in the operating theatre in order to successfully separate the babies, while keeping them alive.

               The operation was a huge success. It changed the prevailing matrix of collective thought and approach to this type of operation.  In my language, Carson was the ‘next’ person to engage with a particular energy flow or line of thought that triggered a tipping point in the medical world.  It’s a bit like the phenomenon used to describe a strategy for social change known as - The Hundredth Monkey (Revisited).  In essence it is quantum mechanics. 

          But social change does not happen until there is sufficient weight to tip the balance as it were - to reach a 'tipping point'.  Abe Lincoln, Emily Pankhurst, Mahatma Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mikhail Gorbachev, all stood on the crest of a wave which was in effect the tipping point.  Northern Ireland's Good Friday Agreement, the collapse of the Berlin Wall etc all fall into the same category. Today's vanguard of change, including and especially Barack Obama, stand on the shoulders of ancestral giants who came before them.

               The events of daily life in all their banality and exceptionality, brutality and absurdity are a source of information and, like dreams, are worthy of examination and interrogation.  Symbolic sight is the gift the artist brings to the discerning; when it is employed we can perceive the symbiotic relationship between humanity and the planet, and can appreciate that the personal is essentially planetary. Like true alchemists, we can all engage the power of our spirit with the energy flow that brings resolution.

a) At 12 Noon Sunday, February 17: Forward on Climate, Washington, D.C. USA; and b) 4-10 March is Climate Week in UK. Visit AND


  1. I love the Hundredth monkey !
    I think we need to go into slow motion as a regular discipline in order to see the constellation right in front of our eyes! Then things that previously didn't appear to make sense - suddenly reveal themselves.

  2. I'm beginning to see almost everything as a metaphor for life, but the problem is being able to join the dots and get the message, the lesson, the guidance....Life is just fab!


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