How You See It...How You DON'T.
Patanjali's Yoga Sutra IV.15
vastu-sāmye citta-bhedāt tayor vibhaktaḥ panthāḥ
Each individual person perceives the same object in a different way, according to their own state of mind and projections. Everything is empty from its own side and appears according to how you see it.
When I start to think about perception and perspective, I find myself really embodying Alice and falling a long way down the rabbit hole. It is so deeply interlinked with Karma that there’s no way to separate the two.
My dear meditation and Karma teacher, Mark Joseph, shares this story to simply explain:
Think of a pen. A black ballpoint pen that you use in your everyday life to write with. You know it’s a pen and what it’s used for. BUT then, give that exact same pen to a puppy, and that pen magically becomes a plaything or a chew toy.
All your past karmas have lead you to this point in your life where you know and understand that object to be a pen. All the puppy’s past karmas have lead it to know and understand that object to be a chew toy. Who’s perspective is right? The answer here is neither, and neither is wrong.
You can apply this story to every single object (person/situation/experience) in the universe. There are 7,8 billion humans on this planet and each one of us has our own, completely unique perceptions of the world due to our past thoughts, words, actions, experiences, lessons and traumas. Even siblings growing up in the exact same home, with the same childhood will have totally different perspectives of life. We may have similar perspectives to others but they cannot ever be exactly the same, purely because our past experiences cannot ever be exactly the same. And even if they are, different people will translate different experiences differently.
Another story is that of someone you know who you really dislike. Someone who angers and frustrates you and you cannot understand why they are like they are. Your perspective of this person is how you see them but they have friends and family, partners and children who adore them and think they are amazing. Does that make you wrong and them right? Nope, it simply means we are placing our opinions of reality onto others. Those other objects (being humans, situations or experiences) are completely empty from their own side. We simply colour them by placing our version of them onto those things. We see EVERYTHING through the filters of our past karma's, our opinions and our own perspective. These things do not always tell us the truth. In actual fact, they rarely represent the truth. They may show one version of YOUR truth, which is very different from Universal Truth.
The point of practising Yoga and being on this Yogic path is to take a step back from our own importance and opinions, let go of our labels, judgements and that need to be right. It is to invite unconditional Love, compassion and understanding into ourselves and put our ego’s to the side in order to see reality for what it truly is. What this reality truly is, is a place where billions of Holy Beings are bumbling around the planet trying to learn their lessons. We are all made up of exactly the same stuff, we are the universe made manifest into individual entities to learn certain lessons. And when we can take that step back, and see the world through unconditional Love, compassion and empathy, we start to understand that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have, viewing the world and responding to it from their own limited perspectives, from their own past karma's, past experiences and past traumas. We begin to realise that it is not our place to judge others or impose our perspectives on them. It is our place to be empathetic, understanding and try to constantly send out unconditional Love. It is our responsibility to accept others and ourselves for who and what we are, seeing the truth behind the human. We are all exactly the same thing. As much as we are each a drop in the ocean, we are all the entire ocean in that one drop.
I’m in no way saying that I am completely enlightened and constantly see the world in unconditional Love. I still get irritated with others, I still get angry at the unfairness of the world, I still, sometimes, shout at my phone when I see someone in power saying yet another stupid thing, but, as with everything on this Yogic path, it is a practice. And the more I get to practice it, the better trained I become at it. The more established I become in this practice, the more I understand that a lot of what happens in the world is not my stuff. I have the capacity to focus on and deal with my own stuff but not everyone else’s. So, if I’m dealing with my own stuff, stepping back from trigger reactions and infusing each of my thoughts, words and actions with unconditional Love, them I am creating a world that I wish to live in. A world where I am happy, free, loved and in love.
If you are completely happy and content in your life, that makes my heart so happy, but if, like me, things out there in the world, other OBJECTS still have an effect on your well-being and state of mind then this practice could really change your life.
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