I heard about Shen from an acupuncturist. She practices in the Five Elements tradition — that is to say, a traditional school of Chinese medicine.
I was intrigued by the idea of Shen when she told me that a medical practitioner looks into a patient’s eyes to assess the Shen. “What do you see there?” I asked. She said that it’s the strength of human spirit.
State of the Shen is said to be visible in the eyes. Healthy Shen produces bright, shining eyes, with vitality. Disturbed Shen produces dull eyes, which seem to have a curtain in front of them — as if no one were behind them. Often seen in those with long-term emotional problems or after serious shock (even a shock that occurred a long time ago). Source: Sacred Lotus Arts
That made me think of something Brad Warner wrote in his most recent book (which I have lent out, so I can’t quote it exactly). Referring to someone who had died, he said the same thing that used to look out from her eyes is what looks out from my eyes and your eyes.