I was thinking today how everything we see, perceive, feel and think is only a point of view. For example problems—we all have problems and we all believe our problems are real—but problems are nothing other than a point of view we take of life; in the case of problems a point of view that creates the problems.
Every conclusion that we make about any experience, thought or emotion; every conclusion that we make about anything that happens to us is no more, and no less, than a point of view. It is never the complete truth, only an aspect of it. (It is like the story of the 4 blind men that were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; and the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall.)
In our psychological world, depending on which point of view we choose—what aspect of the truth we take—we will have a certain psychological result. If I see the world as a frightening place to live, I will experience fear, worry, and anxiety. If I see the world as a benevolent place I will experience peace, kindness and love. In other words, the kind of effect that the world has on us is completely dependent on the way I choose to look at it. The world is not out there, it is in my head. The world is not solid and fixed but I create it with every one of my conclusions, with every one of my thoughts, with every point of view I take.
– I can choose to see another person (or myself) as a body, and judge the person accordingly: I will see the person as fat, or thin, or tall, or pretty, or sexy, etc.
– I can choose to see the same person as a mind, and what I will see is intelligence or stupidity.
– I can choose to see the person as a sex, and if it happens to be a sex that I’m attracted to I will see it as a possible partner, or a sexual possibility, or as something to conquer or to be frightened of, etc.
– I can choose to see the person as an obstacle or as an aid to my desires, and react to that person accordingly.
– I can choose to see a person as a political party, and feel friendly if it is the same as mine or feel unwelcoming if it is not.
– I can choose to see the person as a skin color or a religion or a country.
– I can choose to see the same person as a human being and by doing this to rise above any kind of discrimination or judgment, creating instead a sense of brotherhood and compassion.
– And I can even choose to see the person as Life itself, an expression of the whole.
It is the same with any situation:
– I can choose to see a situation as something to avoid, or something to resist.
– I can choose to see a situation as something I want for me.
– I can choose to see it as somebody else’s fault.
– I can choose to see it as my fault.
– I can choose to see it as something to learn from.
– I can choose to see it as my destiny.
– Like Job*, I can choose to see it as a gift from God.
– And I can even choose to see it as Life itself, an expression of the whole.
Of course these points of view do not negate each other, one may have several of them acting at the same time, but the important thing to understand is that some of them bring misery, stress, suffering and separation, while others bring serenity, joy, happiness and love.
Our psychological world is completely dependant on the point of view we choose to see the things that happen to us. Thoughts, emotions and experiences do not have a label attached to them that give us the information of how we are supposed to feel. We create the response according to how we decide to take them. Nothing is imposed on us…nothing. If we are aware (and this is a very important point that I will discuss more in depth below), we can always choose the way we want to think, the way we want to see things, the way we want to experience the world.
One of the best examples of what I’m trying to express is something that was said many years ago. I find it also to be one of the most beautiful things ever spoken (and I like it so much that I use it in different contexts, so you will probably hear me using it in other places)….there was a person, about 2000 years ago, and he was experiencing one of the most horrible and painful things that anybody may experience. Instead of getting upset with the world, as this would have been a more ‘normal’ response to what was happened to him, his response was: ‘forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.’ (I feel like crying every time a think of this, it is so beautiful…) This is a point of view, nothing more nor less than a point of view. He could have chosen a different point of view and say: ‘I hate you!’ or ‘why me?’ or ‘please, get me out of here!’ but he had his choice, and that was the world he wanted to see, that was the world he was able to see.
At another scale, in our everyday life, it doesn’t have to be different with us…if we can understand the need for awareness.
I’ve been talking about choosing our point of view, but of course, this is not as easy as it sounds because in order to choose we need to be more aware, and for this to happen, we need to have a clear mind. Choice only appears when our mind is calm and clean. If we have a busy, hectic, confused, chaotic mind we have no choice. So, a quiet mind is a prerequisite for anything that is more intelligent, for anything that uplift life.
Without a clear mind, whatever comes first into our head is chosen mechanically by our habits. This is the popular point of view, the one we share with the masses, a point of view that is often NOT the most intelligent or deep but quite the opposite; it is the easiest, simplest and the one that need absolutely no effort: good or bad; friend or enemy; black or white. Much of the suffering we see in the world, and experience in ourselves, is based on this view. In contrast, an intelligent point of view needs our attention, our brains, our love. We need to be more quiet in ourselves, more alert and more AWARE. Yes, for awareness we need a clear mind and to get a clear mind, we need to bring awareness to our everyday life.
In the classes, one of my aims is to help us clear our mind by learning to pay attention to what we do. Then, my hope is that whatever we learn in the classes we transfer it to our everyday life. For example, when we are doing a difficult exercise, one that is more demanding, it would be like walking through Piata Unirii at 6 PM or to have a difficult meeting at work. How do we stay in ourselves, how do we maintain a clear mind in the middle of struggling? I call it ‘meditation in action’. Right now, as we start the class, can you hear the music? As you start to make efforts with your body, don’t lose yourself in what you do. Remain alert, remain aware and see that in this state of clarity we have the choice to decide the kind of thoughts we want in our head. We have the choice to create the world in which we want to live.
In this state, we have a choice.