The Way We See the World

Hand_with_Reflecting_Sphere

Ana: I have a question which came to me after last night’s class. You keep saying that we have to accept life and the events in our life as they are, and try to change our perception of them…

Carlos: What I am saying is that there is no ‘life’ or ‘events’ outside of our perception. Every ‘event’ I see is no other than my perception. ‘Life’ and ‘events’ do not exist on their own, but only as manifestations of my way to perceive them. 

But it is nearly impossible to understand this if we are continuously fighting with life, not accepting what is, trying to change what we see to fit our own needs, etc.

So, before we can actually understand that the ‘life’ and ‘events’ we see outside are no other than our own thoughts, we need to somehow come to a place of peace and understanding with what happens. So, trying to accept what is, to embrace what appears, is a very necessary preliminary step to see that all there is consists of our perception of the world, and that by changing our perception, we change the world.

 

Ana: I can totally understand that and I can even do that from time to time. I mean, stepping back a bit and seeing what happens from a different perspective.

Carlos: Good. Now, in order to be able to do this on a regular basis—to be able to step back and examine my own perception (which actually means to challenge my own perception)—requires a very awake, quiet, receptive mind, and if the mind is busy fighting with what is, examining my own perceptions becomes almost an impossible task.

This is a wonderful yoga exercise you can practice anywhere, anytime: Love what is. Change anything that can be changed but, love what is.

 

Ana: What I find more difficult is when these events are people and these people (e.g. mother, husband and close acquaintances) do things on a repetitive basis which upset me. I tell them that ‘that way of doing something’ upsets me and doesn’t help me at all but they still continue in that manner. How should I perceive that? It’s not about controlling the people around me and doing things my way but basically it’s about being receptive to the other person’s needs.

Carlos: The question you ask, ‘How can I perceive that?’, is a wonderful question! It means you are already understanding that our perceptions are not sealed in stone, and that they can be changed! This understanding is the beginning of real inner change. For most people, whatever they see is the truth and to doubt their perceptions means to doubt their individuality. That is why it is so difficult to change, because although the way we see the world creates so much suffering, we are very attached to it, and don’t want to let it go. But the understanding that the problem is not in what I see but in the way I see what I see is the beginning of freedom.

Coming more specifically to your question, you say: ‘What I find more difficult is when these events are people and these people (e.g. mother, husband and close encounters) do things on a repetitive basis which upset me.’

The upset appears not because of what they do, but because you believe that they should not be doing what they do. It is a subtle difference, but a very important one. The upset is in your belief and not in their act.

But that belief can be questioned.

To start with, according to your belief, they should not be doing what they do, but the fact is that they are doing it. And for anything to happen there is a reason for it. Sometimes that reason is known, sometimes it is not; sometimes the reason makes sense, sometimes it does not, but either way, the reason/cause exists, and the fact that I don’t know it, or I don’t agree with it, does not make it less real.

So, the first thing to do is to see that they behave the way they do for some reason, and if the reason is there, then they have all the right to do what they do. Understanding this allows me to accept their behaviour instead of fighting with it.

Now, the problem is not that they do whatever they do. The problem is that I don’t like what they do. Here, I have two options.

1) The first one is try to change their behaviour, and here is where the previous step is SO IMPORTANT. If I try to change their behaviour with the belief that they should not be doing what they do, I will be confronted with lots and lots of resistance. But if I approach the situation with acceptance, with the understanding that they have their reasons for doing what they do, and that the real problem is not in what they do but in the fact that it bothers me, then the whole energy changes. My whole way of talking to them changes and so, instead of resistance, I may find openness. And it is only in openness where real change is possible. (But to do this, to turn my eyes inside instead of outside, to see myself instead of seeing the other person, is a long process of investigating my own attitudes. It is not an easy job, but it is a wonderfully rewarding job.)

Now, the thing is that even if I have all the understanding in the world, it is still very possible that I will no be able to change people. I can barely change myself (if you are sincere with yourself you will see how difficult it is to change anything in yourself) and so I cannot expect to change another person. All I can do is to try.

If, after you try to change the behaviour of what you don’t like, you see that nothing changes, then we can go to the second part.

2) You take anything that you cannot change as an aspect of what life has to be at this particular moment and you deal with it internally, in your mind, no different from the way you deal with bad weather, or a flat tire, or a bad hair cut, or a broken leg, or an earthquake. What can you do about it? Yes, you can complain about it to infinity, or you can just see it for what it is, something beyond your powers, something that is, something that, for known or unknown reasons has to exist; and so, you embrace it, and then you just keep living your life to best of your possibilities, to the best of your understanding.*

And every time the problem returns (which will return whenever you are confronted with the uncomfortable situation) you keep coming back to your understanding: first I accept; then I try to change. And then, if the change does not work, I embrace what is. And I repeat this over, and over, and over until it becomes natural.

When this process becomes my everyday experience, then the problems disappear. There is only what is, and life IS what is. If we learn to stop fighting with life, then life becomes an amazing adventure, or, as Albert Einstein said: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 



* There is actually one more option, and this option is to leave. I didn’t mention this option so much because it does not seem to be related to your case. But in general, often people stay in unhealthy situations /relationships out of laziness, fear of loneliness or lack of understanding of how harmful those situations actually are. So, if that were the case, and one feels that there is no change after sincere efforts to change the situation, leaving—if possible—or at least diminishing one’s contact, should always remain an option.

 

11 Comments Add Yours

  1. Alex

    I’m reading all this thinking about what happends now in our country. So in your vision I guess
    step 1. has already been done, we have tried to change but without any results so far, so we must go to
    step 2. Simply accept the situation because the real problem is our primitive mind, not their mostruous golden project.
    Or to follow the extra option: lo leave..?

    My very very dear Carlos, I know you don’t get involved in such “earthly” problems.. these are unpleasant aspects of our living usually avoided by spiritual masters. But our mountains are there, crying for help..
    So I have this question:
    What should one human being do, when something precious is being destroyed, or somebody is being hurt, in front of their eyes?

    Reply
    • Carlos

      Very well said Alex. Beautiful question, coming from the heart.
      What can you do as a human being? Do everything humanly possible to change the situation.
      If there are things that can be done, don’t give up, for sure! Keep trying to change! But do what you can do with understanding, and love.

      You know, I don’t agree with you that spiritual masters avoid unpleasant aspects of our living. Quite the contrary, I believe they take care of particular unpleasant aspects of our living that are avoided by the majority of people. One of them, and certainly there are many others, involves avoidance of unnecessary tragedy when tragedy is already happening. Another one involves what happens when tragedy has already strike; what happens when change is not possible; what happens when injustice is being done.

      In the first case, they explain that in order to avoid unnecessary tragedy when injustice is already happening one need to see a situation with eyes of forgiveness and understanding instead of eyes of confusion or revenge or violence or blame.

      In the second case, if you can avoid tragedy or injustice, then avoid it! But in the end, tragedy is unavoidable—everything that comes is going to go— and injustice is older than earth itself. It is important to learn to deal with them and that is where spiritual masters come in.
      Most people don’t want to deal with these issues; they prefer to cry and complain and criticize and revenge and blame and strike back and destroy.
      But then, there are these spiritual masters that suddenly, in the middle of tragedy and injustice are able to say things like: ‘forgive them, because they know not what they do’. This is not avoidance of unpleasant issues. This is what spiritual masters teach, that there is a love that does not change.

      Going back to what you say, yes, change what can be changed. Never give up, do what you have to do full heartedly. But do it with the understanding that the world they see is not the world you are seeing. Yes, they may be blind, but then, how can you blame them? How can you blame a blind person for not seeing? Do what you have to do, but do it without the blame or condemnation. Do it with love.

    • Alex

      Thank you very much for your answer Carlos, and for the valuable things I always learn from you

  2. Aline

    Still reading you from Prague Carlos :-)
    Thank you for this great article and sending you warm regards,
    Aline

    Reply
  3. calina

    What a wonderful article for a Friday morning :)
    Thank you for the reminder …
    Best Regards,
    Calina

    Reply
  4. Anca

    @Alex: First of all, the gold mining project is not the only thing wrong with this country, but it is the most visible right now. There are so many wrong things: an archaic way of thinking, misogyny, hatred of gay people, a bad educational system, corruption, etc., etc.

    Second of all, I used to think exactly like you (and it’s hard for someone’s tone to come across correctly in a written message, but I assure you I am not being condescending). I don’t think Carlos or anyone else is saying that we should ignore the ills of this society. I don’t presume to speak for Carlos, but I’ll speak for myself. I believe that yes, we need to be aware of these ills that are very real in our society. I also believe that, even though we may not have the power to change them, they can help us see where we stand. Yes, I know cyanide is bad, I know the Romanian government is made up of people who have absolutely no respect for those whom they are supposed to represent, I know it’s wrong to hate gay people, etc. I don’t have the power to change any of these things. However, if I put my hope in some sort of bloody uprising, I will be just like them. Violence breeds violence and negativity breeds negativity. These things can teach us how we should not act. I recently read an article about Malala Yousafzai, the young Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and she said something very interesting: When her life was being threatened, her first thought was that if someone comes to murder her, she will hit that person and die fighting. But then she thought that this would make her just like him and she resolved to say smth like “I only want education for everyone, including your children. Do what you want”. Luckily, she’s still with us.

    Reply
    • Alex

      Anca, thank you for your message and for sharing the story of Malala Yousafzai

  5. C

    Hei, I guess we all have to deal with uncomfortable things sometimes. To detach from the source it’s a good thing, to come back to yourself is totally precious. I think we have to try not to live in the others’ life, whether comfortable or uncomfortable, but to make the best of our being alive in our own life. And that’s where your work, carlos, is so precious for me, namely in awakening the senses of life inside of ourselves. Thank you for sharing that. C

    Reply
  6. Bianca

    Carlos, it is my first time here. I just saw your post about ,,Finding Sense in Jagat’ a wonderful reflection actually.
    I have a question for you, regarding the sentence you repeated in this article. ,, Love what it is”. Can you actually feel this kind of love everywhere, for everything that happens around you? Is this really possible to actually FEEL IT ? I know about the uncondittionally love, but how can someone practice this type of emotion regulary and in the same time being authentic? Thank you, Warmly, Bianca.

    Reply
    • Carlos

      Hello Bianca,
      I may use your question to write a new post for the blog. It is hard to answer such a wonderful question in such a small space as a comment. Even for a note…but will see what comes.
      Thank you for the inspiration :)

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