The Window of the Soul
“ “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22 NIV
“The eye, which is called the window of the soul, is the principal means by which the central sense can most completely and abundantly appreciate the infinite works of nature; and the ear is the second, which acquires dignity by hearing of the things the eye has seen.” —Leonardo da Vinci, “Notebook IX”
As an Optometrist for over thirty years, I have peered intently into thousands of eyes, most healthy, but some, very sick. The eye is truly a wonder to behold and is a magnificent example of the creative genius of God. Indeed, an eye can say a lot about the overall health and well-being of an individual. Although I cannot say I’ve ever seen a person’s soul, the eye is certainly a direct and most powerful sensory link to the brain, and the eyes certainly display our emotions, personality, character, intentions, and certainly our general health and well-being.
Many have been credited with the quote, “The eye is the window of the soul,” including Shakespeare, da Vinci, and a myriad of others, and note that the specific phrase does not occur in the Bible, although it is certain to be its inspiration. Probably the earliest recorded quote is that of da Vinci, but unfortunately, he is typically misquoted from the above full quotation, being paraphrased without the “which is called,” so it appears erroneously as if he himself is making the statement, but in reality, he is simply recounting that which was taken to be already well-known. The phrase most likely originates via inspiration from the Bible passage, then transforming into an old French proverb which stated that “The eye is the mirror of the soul,” and then into an old English proverb, “The eye is the window of the soul.” Hence, the idea was long established. Incidentally, the phrase is typically seen stated as “the window to the soul,” which has a significantly different connotation; of implies looking outward, whereas to implies looking inward. Regardless, if the eye is our “lamp” as Jesus states, it both illuminates the outward that we perceive, and also illuminates that which is within us for others to see.
Christ is telling us in the Bible passage that to perceive with your eyes is to perceive spiritually the things of God, and that which we assimilate with our perceptions becomes our inner essence—and it shows! If we have eyes for God, we have eyes that are pure, clean, noble, healthy, full of light and life, and our entire essence is as well. However, if we only have eyes for the things of the world, then we too, will only be filled with darkness and despair. Feast your eyes only upon the light and love of Jesus Christ and you will be healthy and full of light yourself.