In Zazen we practice with our eyes open, but we do not see in the usual way.
The Diamond Sutra says there are five eyes, five ways of seeing.
The first is the physical eye. You can understand that is the eye of our karma. We see a world which has been told to us by our parents, by our society, and by earlier versions of ourselves.
The second eye is the heavenly eye. This is seeing the world conceptually. When I look up at the sky for example, I see it within the context of the world and the universe that’s been taught to me. I can see the world conceptually in many ways: through physics, through economics, through history; any number of ways.
The third eye is the prajna eye. This the ‘wisdom’ eye that sees the emptiness and the non-separation of all things.
The fourth is the dharma eye which, while seeing the emptiness of all things, uses compassion and skillful means to alleviate suffering—the eye of the Bodhisattva.
The fifth eye is the Buddha eye.
When we read about these five eyes, we think that they belong to five different kinds of beings. Or to the one being, in progressive stages of development.
I think we can equally look upon these ‘eyes’ as facets of practice. The Buddha eye is this non-dual awareness, this non-separation which contains the other four.
Not just those other four eyes of course, but the countless eyes of Avalokiteshvara.