Custody of the eyes


I ran across this phrase just today and it really resonated. I did a cursory search for the phrase and not surprisingly found that it appears mostly in conservative Christian circles with a certain emphasis on sin.
But passing over all the stuff on sin which I dont find particularly useful, the concept of custody of the eyes or any other senses for that matter is in keeping with Buddhist practice and actually sums up the underlying steps quite nicely:

  1. Being mindful of unskilful thoughts
  2. Being mindful of unskilful feelings
  3. Being mindful of what one is sensing that is the source of those thoughts and feelings
  4. Gently focusing one’s senses away without recrimination, guilt or blame
  5. Gently focusing one’s thoughts away without recrimination, guilt or blame
  6. Being mindful of the subsiding of feelings
  7. Gently refocusing on that which is skilful

Not that I’m saying this is easy – I find it quite difficult myself. As for the definition of what is skilful and unskilful, that’s pretty much up to the individual but for me, I take refuge in the Buddhist concept of suffering and loving-kindness: that which leads to greater suffering is unskilful, that which leads to greater loving-kindness is skilful.

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