Vase-Face Interplay

figure-ground vase Rubin's vaseI wasn’t able to attend last week’s class because of  travelling and US time change. Listening afterwards, I wanted to share my experience of attempting to balance the simultaneous seeing of Vase and Faces.

I noticed to be able to hold both at the same time there was a fine dialogue established between sensations at the periphery of my eyes, and in their centre; as though I was actually employing two kinds of seeing simultaneously.

Most noticeable was the collaboration between expanding and condensing occurring.

I had the odd sensation of perceiving form and space simultaneously.

This morning, reading Jack’s article in A New Way of Being (p. 159): Space Projecting Space I was struck by how what he says on page 166 related to this Vase-Face balancing exercise: The more I can contact this unifying whole (without losing contact with the immediacy of the particulars), the more appearance is empowered as an expression of knowledge.

Incidentally, I find it much easier to do with b&w image on the right above, than with the coloured one on the left, where the vase seems to pull attention, the colour somehow giving it a sense of greater substantiality. How about you?





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3 Responses to Vase-Face Interplay

  1. David Filippone says:

    Hi Caroline,
    Glad you did this more formerly than we did with just our comments in the Chat Box during the Call.

    I noticed the reference in Jack’s essay too and immediately thought of this little exercise. And like Michael, I had at least 3 views that I tended to alternate between, but could not sustain for too long. The face view, the vase view, and the simultaneous (whole) face/vase view. The whole view came when I relaxed my focus while staying with the knowing (recognizing) both faces and vase. Perhaps mind is just trained to run with interpretations, summarizing and moving on, among other things.

    I also had more trouble with the color vase. Perhaps because the view was a more oblique one, and color added more detail for the mind’s eye to deal with.

  2. michaelg says:

    Hi Caroline,

    Encouraged by your assurance that it is possible to see both the vase and the faces simultaneously, I found that I could briefly hold them both in my gaze too.

    Interestingly, with the yellow vase, I can simulaneously see the vase and a white face on the right quite eaasily. I think because the yellow vase presents itself so adamantly, I can leave it on the periphery while I look at the white face without losing either. What I seem unable to do is look at both white faces without the yellow vase intruding–like someone arguing in the next room while you are grapling with a challenging paragraph in a TSK book. In other words, the yellow vase refuses to retreat graciously into the “background” when I try to place two faces looking at one another into the ‘foreground”. Perhaps in the way that things grab attention when we try to contemplate the space around them.

    • Caroline Sherwood says:

      I think part of the ‘trick’ with this is to give up trying to see with one’s eyes in the accustomed fashion, but rather to let ‘seeing see’ without our help. It seems the ‘third eye’ plays more of a part in this than the two physical eyes. Please let me know if this makes any sense.

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