The Over-Lookers and The Under-Looker

You overlook me but I see under your looking over. I see how you only ever look over; I see how you do not look in. I see how you do not see me when you look out at me; you will never see me by looking out at me. You look out and over, and you see less than you look at; I look in and under, and I see more than can be seen by overlooking.

Do not think you are special in overlooking me. I do not think I am special in being overlooked by you. You overlook most people, and most people overlook me.

To overlook is one thing, to be overlooked is another, but neither causes me suffering anymore: neither your overlooking nor my being overlooked. To be overlooked in this world is reason to rejoice. To be overlooked in the world above is to be freely given by no one the invisible keys to the underworld, where things are seen truly and appreciated for what they are, where no one is seen for or forced to be someone they are not.

To be overlooked is to begin to look into, to become an under-looker. It will seem at first to the under-looker that being overlooked locks him out of the world. It is true that, in being overlooked, he is locked out of the outside world—where everyone is locked in. But now, locked out of the outside world, the under-looker is free (though initially it will not feel like freedom, for it is not at all like the so-called freedom of the locked-in world where freedom is not possible); now the under-looker is free to discover the unlocked world. “The objective situation is repellent,” how true, so now the in-looker looks under, now his deep gaze locks-in on the underworld, the only place he can and must go to shorn the heavy locks that bolt him to the outside world—where everyone is locked in.

To be overlooked, then, is to become (or to realize that one already was) an alien, an eternal wanderer in and an outsider to the outside world, to come to the understanding that one’s home can only be found inside the underworld. Only if the outsider finds that home, and is true to it, can he learn to be at home in the alien world above, but the important thing for the under-looker, what is first and foremost, though it is unseen by all and of no importance to most, is finding his home in the underworld.

I am more at home in the underworld; in fact, only in the underworld am I at home, for there nothing is overlooked. Everyone there sees into, and already there everyone is under, which is where everyone is above, though this is not seen.

But I go to the underworld alone. There is no ‘everyone’ there. There is only the one who goes under. Only where there is the one can I see. Only in the underworld, in the seeing under, in the in-sight, do I see myself for who I am. Only when I see myself for who I am can I see another at all. This is why I must go to the underworld, and why I must go alone. Look for your own way out from under those who look over you.

The over-lookers who look out may say to the outsider and the under-looker: ‘you are selfish, self-absorbed, indifferent to others.’ The over-lookers will say this fully believing themselves beyond reproach. They are not concerned with themselves, so how could they be selfish? Yet what those with such an out-look lack is a sense of the damage they themselves cause by their overlooking. They do not see what they do, for they do not see at all. They believe looking under is selfishness, but they do not see the selfishness involved in their own blindness. They are blind to what they cannot see, whereas those who look under see what the blind cannot. The under-looker sees the blindness of the over-lookers, he sees the damage this blindness causes to what exists invisibly but is no less true for that—what is truer when it stays unseen, what remains distinct when it stays hidden. To the over-lookers what does not exist above does not exist at all. In their blindness they wipe out the underworld.

To wipe out the underworld—what could be more selfish! What could be more selfish than looking over the under-lookers! For it is these very under-lookers—each in his own way, each in her own way—who see a way beyond selfishness, beyond the absorption with the self that the over-lookers, being who they are, cannot help but overlook in themselves. It is the under-looker who sees a way-out, while the over-lookers see nothing but what is already out, believing that by seeing what is already out they see the way out. But this is no way out. Absorbed as the over-lookers are with the surface that locks them in, they see nothing, not even what absorbs them! For there is much more to what is already out than can be seen—looking out. What is out is nothing without what spurs it out from under. If what spurs it out cannot be seen, nothing is seen, for what makes nothing into something grows out from the inside. The most distinct essence of the under-looker the over-lookers do not see, for the over-lookers see only what looking out lets them see, and the essence of the under-looker lies under, lies in looking in.

And what is the way-out the under-looker sees? Again, let me stress that no one under-looker sees the same way-out as any other. This is of the highest importance and must be made clear. It is not “a way out on which we can all absolutely agree.” No. It is a way-out for that particular under-looker, that ‘I’, and though another might not agree with it (because the other cannot truly see into it), it still remains a way-out for that ‘I’ who does see into it and can act out of it. But only that under-looker, who is not the same as any other under-looker and certainly not the same as any over-looker, can see into it.

Looking-under and seeing-into is not self-preoccupation, as the over-lookers would have you believe. In looking-under one locates precisely the faculty to see out of the inward self and into the outside world in a way true to the underworld. This is the very faculty that those with the overlooking outlook do not possess, for they know nothing of the existence of the underworld. By looking out, they lock themselves into the world above and so are necessarily selfish, though they might call their selfishness ‘real-world wisdom’ or they might call it ‘religious servitude.’ But how can the over-looker serve anyone? He has nothing to give because he sees nothing (though he believes he has everything to give because he sees everything), so his giving is no better than the most violent taking away; he has no wisdom to share because he does not look under (though he believes his wisdom lies in the very fact that he looks out without looking under), and so the wisdom he mechanically dispenses is on the level of the pez dispenser.

The over-lookers look out, and whoever looks out without having seen into is selfish, whether that over-looker believes he is a humble servant or whether other people look up to him, as he looks over them, and believe he is a cultural giant; whether the over-looker concerns himself with alleviating poverty or whether he concerns himself with amassing wealth. Either way he does not really concern himself at all, for if he were at all concerned with his self and with the way he lives then he would look under. If nothing else, what he would find there would be sure to give him reason for concern! If his outlook is such that he does not look under, he will overlook all those he claims to assist, his cultural prowess will have no lasting significance, the wealth he amasses (though it might all be gained in the name of his future progeny or to distribute to the poor), will only serve to keep him out of touch with what can truly be gained and cannot be lost. All gains that do not come from making contact with the untouchable in the underworld cannot last and will be lost. I have no interest in gaining what will be lost; I look always for what lasts, so I look under.

The preoccupation of the under-looker is with seeing into the self and seeing into the world in a way that sees both the self and the world clearly and does not overlook either. This is the only way of seeing that can lead to “a sense of brotherhood with something other than man,” as an under-looker once wrote. This ‘brotherhood with something other than man’ is the only type of brotherhood the under-looker longs for, as he has long existed as an eternal outsider and exile from the outside world of outward men. To be an outsider to the outside world—this is to begin to look inside, to become an in-looker and an under-looker. To become an under-looker, to find one’s home in the underworld—this is the only way-out.

“Dare only to believe in yourselves—in yourself and in your inward parts! He who doth not believe in himself always lieth.” Thus spoke Zarathustra. Honesty means looking out at and into the world in an undistorted way that is utterly one’s own. The under-looker knows that looking at the world selfishly is looking at the world through distorted, unseeing, over-looking eyes. To see totally without distortion—to see oneself as one is, to see every other person as that person is, to see reality as it is—this is only possible by looking under.

Put it this way: The under-looker looks into so he can look out of without overlooking, so he can truly see into and under everything that exists above and outside. Those who habitually look out cannot believe that anything more exists than what is already out, for they have not looked in. If they looked in, they might see more in themselves than what had seemed to them to be their self, or more likely they would see a great deal less. Either way they might begin to look under rather than overlook. But I doubt the over-lookers will have read this far, and if they have read this far they have probably overlooked everything I have written. How typical of the over-lookers, those who look out but cannot see past their own self-importance!

Self-importance begins with overlooking (though the overlooking ones believe the under-looker is self-obsessed and self-important), for the overlooking ones do not see the importance of anyone but themselves. In looking out without having looked into, they can do nothing but overlook. They do not see anyone; they do not even see themselves, for to see is to see under the surface, and the overlooking ones define themselves by their superior capacity to look out, to see what is above the surface. They call themselves practical, sensible, reasonable; they are the realists, the shakers and movers. Perhaps they even call themselves far-sighted. But, in reality, what does it matter if you can see far out if you have not seen deep into, if you see far out only in the world of what seems to be, and you have never seen into the underworld that truly is?

The over-lookers see what is above, which is far from all there is. They look at what is already out, what locks them in, without seeing they are locked in and in need of a way-out; they do not see what lies under what they overlook because they do not look under at all. They look only out; they do not look in.

I am not one of them. I am an under-looker. I look in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s