Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1350, (22 June - 5 July 2017)
Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Issue 1350, (22 June - 5 July 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Look straight in the eyes

 Look straight in the eyes
Look straight in the eyes

What a powerful tool we possess and often ignore.

Eye contact is the easiest and most compelling way to make a person feel recognised, understood or esteemed.

“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eyes,” strange that such words were written by one Helen Keller, author, activist, educator, born deaf and blind.

Here we are with the gift of sight and we choose to see nothing.

Holding a gaze deepens any relationship; it imparts information, feelings, disposition — a world of knowledge we brush off, without even a blink.

A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows infants follow adults with their eyes rather than with head movement which leads us to believe what some scientists claim that eye contact is rooted in our DNA. Cavemen had intuitive mastery of eye control, which then made the difference of life and death. A look is still as paramount, for eye power is indispensable, offering us more than mere sight.

That old concept is indisputable, that the “eyes are windows of the soul”. Why then do we rarely use the language of the eyes? We look but we do not see the volumes they speak. Even animals have eyes that speak to us. We are too busy with the mundane, the physical, the shallow, the do’s and dont’s, we have little time to stop and study character through a deep, prolonged look into a person’s eyes.

Eyes still play a major role in our lives, globally. No matter how often or how hard we may try, we are all totally or somewhat, consciously or unconsciously preoccupied with the evil eye. That is what we fear — the harm an evil eye can bring. There is hardly a home in which some trinket or object exists, to ward off the effects of an evil eye. They differ according to cultures, but a glass blue amulet is popular among many, dating far back as with the ancient Egyptians. The evil eye is feared from Tuscaloosa to Timbuktu.

How often have you seen Horus eyes or hands or other emblems used as ornaments or charms on doors, walls, necks, wrists, fingers or earlobes?

Belief in the evil eye goes back to antiquity. It has hypnotisesd many an artist, poet, historian, philosopher with more than 100 works authored by writers.

Greek philosopher Plutarch’s explanation is that the eyes were the chief, if not the sole source of the deadly rays that would spring up like poisonous darts from the inner recesses of the individual possessing the evil eye, or something seeming as inexplicable is a source of wonder and cause of incredulity. The person with the evil eye has no hand in it and is often unaware of it.

Romans were strong believers in the dangers of the evil eye, a belief that has lingered to this day. Its strength ebbs and flows in cycles. It assumes prominence during economic crises. It is present in Islamic as well as other religious doctrines.

If you happen to admire a beautiful baby, for example, do not say so unless you add Mashaa Allah — a holy blessing accompanied by a compliment wards off the evil eye.

Enough of the concept that eyes can cast evil spells. Eyes are man’s most important prized possession. You have heard the saying “watch over as you would your eyes”. It exists in all languages, as do hundreds of sayings that use the eyes as a power of observation.

Eyes are linked to love and desire. Playboys have “wandering eyes”, and the most flirtatious gesture is a simple “wink”.

A crucial element of physical beauty, especially in women, dark eyes are traditionally favoured, as in “the black eyes of a doe”. In Bulgaria they say, “500 for Blue Eyes, for Dark Eyes 1,000”.

The shape of the eyes matters little, the expression wins, revealing the inner self.

Almond-shaped eyes are singled out, described as “black olives” by some, “bright stars” by others. 

Enormous eyes are feared, assuming demonic attributes. Fear has big eyes.

Anatomists describe eyes as “windows to the brain”, while poets prefer, “windows to the soul”. Eyes speak, laugh, love, warn, fear, persuade, approve, disapprove, they are the most symbolic sensory organ, representing clairvoyance, omniscience — the gateway to the soul.

Couples know most about the language of the eyes. They share their own world with a meaningful look, more eloquent than a million words.

Because of their miraculous features the eyes connect the two sexes with ease. The eyes flirt. Subtly or seductively, their uses are numerous as mentioned, and take credit for most unions on the planet. A little eye gaze goes a long way. It has been scientifically proven by researchers at the University of Paris that we are more aware of ourselves, our looks, our behaviour when someone makes eye contact with us.

Use your greatest gift by establishing eye contact with neighbour, boss, sales-man or stranger. The difference is a few extra seconds. If we spend 4.2 seconds gazing, we leave no impression, but an 8.4 seconds’ gaze arouses interest. 

 Holding a gaze creates attraction, encourages understanding, touching, listening, etc. 

Psychologist Paul Ekman says “the key to a true smile versus a fake one is in the eyes.”

Eye contact is universal. Use it. It might lead to love or even to friendship.

 God knows how much we need a true friend —the eyes can do it.


“When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes.”

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) 

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