These Magic Eye pictures were popular in the 90s, and I find the process of "seeing" the three-dimensional image quite analogous to Zen awakening. It requires some practice, and there's a bit of technique that goes along with seeing them - relaxing; looking at the image, but with the eyes not focused on the paper, but somewhere else; and allowing the image to emerge, to come to you. You can't "force" it.
"is the purest test of stereoscopic vision. It is unfakable, for there are no monocular cues whatsoever; it is only by stereoscopically fusing thousands of seemingly random points as seen by the two different eyes that the brain can construct a three-dimensional image."
I remember the first time I saw one. A young woman in our office had an 8-1/2 x 11 cardboard sheet with a seemingly abstract pattern on it. Several people looked at it, first holding the sheet near their nose then slowly moving it away, and then, all of a sudden, "Aha! I see it!," they would exclaim.
I gave it a try. I aped the same technique that I had seen, sheet first at the tip of my nose, then moved gradually away. But try as I might, I was not able to "see" the image that made everyone else gasp out loud.
Now this, unfortunately, is the state in which many new Zen practioners find themselves. They sit cross-legged, or kneeling on a cushion, facing the wall, eyes slightly open, head tilted down, counting their breaths as they breathe through their nose, but nothing happens. Some keep trying; others give up. And some try to fake it.
As I stood there in my old office, although I was unable to "see" the image, I did hear certain verbal cues from my co-workers that gave me a pretty good idea of what the illusion was like. "It's a woman!," one person announced upon perceiving the image. "She's got big boobs," she observed, and someone else added, "Yeah, really big boobs."
So I knew that it was a picture of a woman, I knew that the depicted woman had really large breasts, and I knew that the picture was observed in some sort of three-dimensional aspect. And although I had not myself experienced the illusion, I could very easily have, were I so inclined, taken the picture to others, taught them the "technique" for seeing the illusion ("first hold the picture close to your nose, then slowly move it away, keeping your eyes in soft focus"), and then confirmed with them whether or not they saw an image of a large-breasted woman. As I learned more and more particulars of the details of the image from those who were able to see it, I could even quiz my "students" to test if they had really seen the illusion, or if they were just faking it (like myself).
Not that I did any such thing. I never did see that particular illusion, but as the "Magic Eye" pictures got more and more popular during that decade, I was able to eventually see the images for myself, and not have to rely on the descriptions of others.
Sitting on the cushion, mind in deep samadhi, we occasionally have these similar "Aha!" moments, glimpses under the tent, as it were, of the nature of reality. But it takes time, it takes patience and it takes some technique. The technique can be taught, in fact, it has been passed down from the Buddha himself through 2,500 years of teachers and patriarchs, but the direct experience itself can not be taught. It must be experienced, realized, first hand.
The so-called "teachings" written in countless "Zen" books and the subject of untold numbers of lectures and talks, and even posted in this blog, are not the "experience" of Zen any more than the words "It's a woman with huge boobs" is the same as the actual experience of "seeing" the illusion. Put another way, as Shohaku Okumura once said, after years of studying academic Buddhism at the University, he got tired of "reading recipes," and wanted to taste the food itself.
So "teaching" Zen is nothing more than sharing the technique of meditation (posture, breathing, attitude) and encouraging the continuation of practice. And practice, as Dogen repeatedly stated, is enlightenment.