Yesterday we did a meditation that was designed to help you recognise that you and everyone around you is viewing things from a perspective. Without even noticing it, you too belong to a perspective group. Even if you’re in one of the most popular groups, that’s still includes fewer people than you might think.
Even with someone from a very different background or culture, you will have a lot more commonalities than differences if your perspective is similar. A very aggressive and social personality that lives in rural Zimbabwe will have more in common with an aggressive, social, urban Japanese person than they will with a fellow rural Zimbabwean who’s passive and introverted.
Can you see that for this reason, when you ask people for advice only a small percentage of people will say anything truly useful? Most people will tell you what a mind like theirs would do, but that’s based on their own experiences and the resulting capabilities. They can’t really tell you what you should do. It’s still good to hear other ideas regardless, because those do help you find the one that’s truly yours. But don’t look at some great person and think you should do what they did just because they’re great. You don’t get great by being a certain way, you realise your greatness by being courageous enough to be yourself.
Why do people need courage to be themselves? If you’re not out there actually trying to physically harm anyone and you’re not trying to undermine loving relationships, then what made you think that the way you are is unacceptable?
Because most people don’t know what it is to act without the social fear of not belonging. Societies are set up to give you some lines to walk between. Every society has their own lines, but the group you want to get yourself into starts to ignore the directions of the lines and instead they focus on why you or anyone else is going the way you are. They don’t care if you’re lined up with the lines anymore, you only care if you actions are loving or not.
Today your job is to find times where you were courageous and times where you were cowardly. You’re not a better person when you’re courageous, but when you’re courageous you will act more naturally. It’s our nature to be loving, so you can see how the ego-view can be confusing if it overlaps with a societal rule.
If you view people from an ego perspective, nice behaviour can appear loving when really it’s just professional or possibly even a performance for others. That kind of niceness eventually turns into a poison because it’s motivated by abstract ideas like duty or correctness, rather than being like the core of all spirituality, which emerges from love.
You may never have noticed it, but if you’re in alignment with the Tao even you can feel pretty good about failing as long as it’s in a loving direction. At worst your loss is poignant. But you can do the right thing as far as the rules are concerned and still you’ll be tortured if you didn’t follow the Tao. No matter how technically correct he or she is, it’ll still be painful for a Detroit sheriff to throw out an unemployed single mom and her kids because she owes on her water bill.
Today’s meditation asks you to find four instances in your life: two where you did something technically correct but it felt terrible, and two where you broke the rules but it felt right. And as with all of these meditations, the idea isn’t just to find them and write them in like test answers. The value is in really looking at the event from your new perspective. Revisit these times that you wouldn’t have were it not for these meditations. Look at them closely. Recognise your own courage. See it’s value.
Two each. Look for the big ones. The ones that stuck with you. They can be big or small to the outside world, but these are the ones that bring you shame or a healthy sense of pride. See that those feelings are not actually aligned with society’s lines. See that those feelings are aligned with you, because you are aligned with something much more significant than some lines in the sand.
Have a wonderful day everyone.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.