All of the stuff I’m reading tells me if I change my perspective I’ll change my life but I still don’t understand how someone changes their perspective. What is “my perspective?” Is that “me?” Or do you mean I should change my opinion or my personality? The more I try to understand words like “perspective,” “opinion,” or “personality” the more I get confused. Help.
Lost in Thought
I have good news for you: you’re closer to your objective than you think. You literally are, “lost in thought.” But you can’t be found until first you’re lost so you’re still fine. These are precisely the meditations that I encourage people to do. To question the meanings of these words is to take apart what the Buddhist’s call The Illusion.
This can feel confusing or disorienting at times because you start to take apart your psychological anchors. Of course that’s also like saying that you are increasing your freedom, so as strange as it feels at the start, as Baba Ram Das says, “the game is not about becoming somebody; it’s about becoming nobody.” You’re not trying to figure out how to be wise or advanced or enlightened. Those are ego-objectives. It’s when you’re no longer striving for any particular status or title that you are free. It’s when life is allowed to flow without thought-barriers that it becomes profoundly meaningful. In that state of mind even the simplest of things is a miracle and that is a beautiful state of mind to exist within.
You don’t really want to change your perspective, you just want to take it less seriously. Do you see that you had to be someone? Can you see that your perspective is the result of your experiences, and that each experience further refines that perspective? You aren’t so much a “person” as you are an ever-changing filter that ignores large aspects of existence in favour of focusing on particular bits of existence.
If we’re not careful each experience can build upon the previous experiences and we can end up boxed in by our own narrow ideas. This happens to marriages all the time. People start looking for what they don’t like and in doing so they find it, and then they blame who they’re looking at rather than noticing that they only look that way because of our perspective. They aren’t a particular way, it’s more we see them a particular way. So who anyone “is” is really an equation between the person being and the person judging the being.
So we all look different to everyone, including ourselves. It’s like some people are MRI’s and some are X-Rays. They’re all telling a form of the truth, but none on their own can completely represent reality. Your opinion of someone else or their opinion of you is more like a reflection off of your surface, but it isn’t the surface itself. Reality is too big for us. Reality is the sum total of all of these perspectives. We’re better to surrender on that one. We’re better to do like the religious and give this question away, for it is not only unanswerable by our limited minds, but it’s also much more exciting to live in a state of mystery rather than a state of expectation.
You’ve written to me because you feel lost and yet I see your question as one of the wiser ones I have received. People are always wrestling with the details of being rather than on the being itself. They want to know what they should do after they’re who they are. You’re asking who you actually are. That’s a great question and if you’re trying to grow then I would say you’re right on track. But your frustrations are personal. They’re “yours.” That’s because at the centre of all of this is an ego that wants to stop suffering. It has a want. The big breakthrough comes when we no longer want anything different from what is. The big breakthrough is when we stop using our psychology to argue with what is—when we stop trying to get the world to line up with our beliefs. When we let the world and ourselves simply Be, then we’re fine. We have nothing to achieve, no where to go and no one to impress. We simple are.
For some—from where they’re at in their development—this blog post will seem entirely opaque and confusing. But I also know that sometimes it’s the most innocuous sentence I write that finally drives a key point home. So I don’t write with the objective to help you change. That would be great and I would rejoice if you popped through the curtain of the illusion to join “me” in freedom, but I have no goal or objective when I answer your question. I am merely giving you the answer I have. What else could I truly do?
The Truth of this is in where it comes from not in what it says. So you don’t become enlightened, you realize that you always were—you just couldn’t see that because of all of the personal thinking you had in the way. Your goals, your objectives, your desires, your wants—any way in which you would define yourself or your life is what stands in the way of living freely. It’s because you have been taught to become someone specific that you lose the freedom and beauty of simply being.
Quiet your mind. Forget striving and abandon your attempts to understand. Trust that without words or learning or achieving, that you can still find yourself right where you have always been, which is in whatever state of mind you have chosen. The only thing you seek to do from there is to maintain an awareness of that choice.
Good luck with it. It’s big but it’s also exciting. And it’s nice that you’re only job is to have a quiet mind and enjoy your life. That’s why they say it’s a journey and not a destination. Your enlightenment isn’t an achievement, it’s a principle played out as a verb. It is you, being you, without your own judgments about any of that. Enjoy!
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.