October 15     

Today's quotation:

Learn to see what is in front of you, rather than what you learned is there.

Stephen C. Paul

Today's Meditation:

This is one of my favorite quotations of all time, as much for its depth and veracity as for its simplicity.  How much of what we see each day is a result of our learning and training, and how much of it is a result of our senses telling us what's truly there?  We may see a kid who's being obnoxious, and we've been taught to dislike that particular thing, but perhaps what we're really seeing is a kid who's afraid and lonely, and who's just acting out in inappropriate ways because he or she has never been taught how to seek help in appropriate ways.

Is that a wall in your living room, or is it an opportunity for expression?  Is this rainstorm something that's going to ruin your picnic and force you to go indoors, or is it something that can help you to open your eyes to the beauty and wonder of experiencing the rain on your skin and the wind in your wet hair?  Is that smile a sign of friendliness, or something else?  If we allow ourselves to realize that much of what we see is the result of conditioning, we can gain a whole new perspective on the world--and its beauty and wonder can shine through even more brilliantly.

Rilke said "Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses, who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave."  The obstacles we face are opportunities for learning; the ugly things have much beauty in them if we only learn how to actually see it.  But we cling to the things that other people have taught us, without ever asking ourselves if those people had the slightest idea of what they were talking about, about what they were teaching us.  One of the most important learning moments in my life was coming to the realization that many of my teachers had absolutely no clue about what they were talking about-- and that's why the old saying says to take everything we hear with a grain of salt.

This doesn't mean that we can't believe anything that we were taught, of course.  But it does mean that we need to realize that the people who taught us about how to see the world might have actually seen things differently than we do.  Our goal in life should be to see the world in the ways that we were born to see it, and not to adopt the ways that other people were born to see it.  What is truly in front of us is far too important for us to miss it simply because we don't see it properly.

Questions to consider:

Do you see the world in your own ways, or in ways that you were taught to see it?

Why is it so easy for us to simply accept what we were taught rather than to explore and discover our own ways of seeing things?

How might we change the ways that we perceive the world around us?

For further thought:

There's nothing wrong with the world.  What's wrong is our way of looking at it.

Henry Miller

more thoughts and ideas on perspective



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