Seeing and Not Seeing

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“When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”

These words, attributed to Max Planck, the father of the quantum theory in physics, and often used by the late Wayne Dyer, summarize what, for me, should be our priority in life, and the highest goal we should strive for on our journey to create better lives and a better world: we must strive to change the way we look at things in order to see beyond what we currently see.

Let’s explore this “seeing” for a moment. To begin this exploration, let’s entertain the idea — or fact — that we don’t see with our eyes, but with our brains. Some researchers went further and said that our hearts and bodies perceive and apprehend realities before our brains do. In other words, our bodies know the experience before our brain translates it in ways that we can ‘understand’ them. Well, we will save this for another time. For now, let’s stay with the research that shows that we are very selective with our seeing, and that we favor noticing what makes sense to us; we see what is in accordance with what we already know. Very little of what does not confirm our beliefs and our understanding of what is possible and plausible is able to go through our “brain filters.” In other words, the majority of what we let through and let in is what matches our concepts. Apparently, it is very difficult for anyone to see something new if they are not open and deeply committed to do so. Therefore, the first thing to consider is that we are unable to see everything that there is to be seen, and, also, that we may be unable to see what others see. In other words, we cannot be absolutely sure that what others see is what we see, and vice versa.

Let us also contemplate that instead of seeing things freshly — with the eyes of a child, or with the eyes of a curious tourist visiting a place for the first time — we evoke memories of past experiences, and mentally construct images that our brains can understand. For instance, imagine yourself looking at a tree… What do you see? Do you see this particular tree, freshly, in all its uniqueness, or do you muster your past experiences with trees, mentally evoke your ideas of what trees are, construct a mental diagram of a tree, and that’s what you see? Think about it. But what would happen if we didn’t give it a name? What if we didn’t call it a tree? What if we didn’t recall our accumulated notions and ideas about trees? What if we investigated this thing freshly, as something completely new and unknown, something we had never seen before?

So, here are some important questions: “When we look at something, what do we actually see? Do we see reality, or do we see our idea of reality? Do we see an object, or do we build an idea of that object in our brains? Do we see all that there is to be seen, or do filter out what does not match our understanding?”

Maybe there is a lot more out there that is invisible to the eyes. Perhaps we don’t even see a small portion of what there is to be seen because we are lost in our thoughts, notions, and beliefs. Many thinkers came up with the concept of multiverse, and they challenge us to imagine that we are living in a kind of virtual reality, and that there are many such parallel realities. Physicists have been trying to explain to us a new paradigm of energy that challenges our deep-seated concepts of matter, space, and time. Other thinkers talk about the existence of several dimensions, such as the third and fifth dimensions. Theologians express ideas about the material and the spiritual world: in this world, but not of it. Buddhists teach about the relative (also referred to as provisional or conventional) truth, and the ultimate truth, and tell us that our challenge is to reconcile living in this more visible (material) world with the knowing — and without forgetting — that we are also living in a less evident world.

Well, the truth — if there is a truth, which is highly questionable — is that the way we live on this planet is a reflection of the ways we see things, of our understandings of what life is, and of what we accept to be possible. This evokes a saying that goes somewhat like this, “As a man thinks, so is he.”

We don’t see the world as it is, but through our own personal lenses. “Things are seen through the lenses of our desires, prejudices and resentments and are transformed accordingly.” ~ Rune Johannson

Unfortunately, the current paradigm that the majority of us came to agree upon is that life is a violent competition for scarce resources between separated beings congregated in tribes, and that only the strongest survive. In our fear-dominated minds we feel that we must be very careful because we are surrounded by enemies that are coming to get us. We accept life as a never-ending struggle of  ‘us against them.’

But if we change the ways we look at things, we can bring about much better arrangements of living together on this planet. Once we reach a new, evolved consciousness, we will embrace the evident truth that this universe is immensely abundant, and that we don’t need to be so afraid, and compete as much as we do. We will realize that there’s more than enough for everybody here and that we don’t need to be afraid of times of scarcity, and, therefore, that we don’t need to accumulate as much as we do. We will come to our senses and see what is so evident: that our capacity to to invent amazing things that enhance the quality of life has no end. We will reach the conclusion that no one needs to suffer, and that all individuals can be supported to have dignified, thriving, and contributing lives.

Once we incorporate new understandings such as these, we will be able to be a lot kinder, cooperate much more with each other, and bring about a much better world for all.

One of the greatest changes that needs to take place in order for this to occur is our understanding of who we are. We see ourselves as separated beings, detached from one another, with our own individual lives and stories. But what if we challenged all these concepts and expanded the ideas of who we are? Some thinkers say that what we accept as reality is in fact an illusion, and that we are not these separated bodies, separated minds, or separated individuals, but that in all aspects we are one single united and interdependent organism. Again, the acceptance of new paradigms like this depends on the way we look at things, on our curiosity, on our openness to the strange and unknown, and on a firm commitment to work on our own selves and explore.

When we go through profound personal transformations we begin to see what we were not able to see before; we begin to have insights and epiphanies, and new paradigms, full of new possibilities, become visible to us.

The truth is that when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at miraculously change!

One myth that needs to be debunked is that these deep transformational experiences are only available to a few evolved individuals. Nothing could be farther from the truth! These awakenings are accessible to all of those who commit themselves to courageous investigation, exploration, and dedicated inner work. A diligent daily discipline of mental training, such as insight meditation and mindful living, can bring about the desired change because our brains have the ability to reorganize themselves by forming new neural connections throughout life. We can move away from those automatic reactions of our primitive brains, and, with training, bring about more sophisticated and thoughtful ways of responding to stimuli. We can train ourselves to expand the space and time between stimuli and responses. We can train ourselves to use the S.T.O.P. method which reminds us to “Stop, Take a breath, Observe, and only then Proceed.” With practice we can significantly reduce the mindless “fight, flight, or freeze” reactions, and increase the instances when we pause, take time, and choose more mindful responses.

I currently accept that I am not able to see everything that there is to be seen. I accept that I unconsciously discard most of the reality that does not agree with my understanding of what life is and of what is possible. For now, based on where I am on my journey, and the experiences and insights I’ve had, I am calmly embracing both the reality I think I am seeing, and the one I believe exists, but I am not seeing. Therefore, I feel comfortable saying that…

“We are, at the same time, mortal and immortal, human and divine, body and spirit, solid matter and vibrational energy, separated and united, independent and interdependent. We are many, and we are one.”

~ Piero


 

“It’s just a thought. Thoughts are not real. Thoughts are just thoughts. Thoughts think themselves. I am not my thoughts.”

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– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”

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