Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Is life a mirror?

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are. —Anais Nin

Any idea, person or object can be a Medicine Wheel, a mirror for man. —Hyemeyohsts Storm

Can life be that simple? What we see, how we perceive the world is within us, not outside? The evidence points that way. Take what's called "The Rashomon effect." Several people see the exact same incident but perceive the event in contradictory ways. While that may bring memory into the equation, it still suggests a more subjective, as opposed to objective, way of seeing the world.

There's the classic example of a group of people spending a night on a mountaintop. One person experiences the peace of nature. Another is bored. A third is afraid a bear is going to rip the tent—and his entrails—open.

But there's even more evidence within ourselves. It's what's inside us that makes the difference. I heard someone use the example of a homeless person living in a cardboard box under a bridge. Take, say, the next four days the person will be facing. It doesn't look good. No, how could it. But what if that selfsame homeless person had a winning lottery ticket for a million dollars and just had to wait the four days to collect the money?

It would make those four days much more tolerable, no? Perhaps it would even make them pleasurable as the person anticipates the relief and pleasure that is on the way.

So next time you're walking down the street and the world seems wonderful or ugly or generous or cruel or however it seems, don't be thinking it's the world outside you that's causing your perception. Take a look inside.


  1. Very for thought!

  2. Hi Gregg, any advice on how I can change my perception of terror attacks? They do appear to be OBJECTIVELY very ugly indeed and utterly cruel, and this completely independently of my perception. Thanks, I'm not trying to be flippant or anything. Just wondering how you're able to "reframe" something objectively horrific.

  3. Hi. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Terror attacks are very ugly and cruel. Many things in life are. I don't reframe them.

    The blogpost wasn't to say that we can turn terrible things into wonderful (or even tolerable) things just by the way we see the world. It was an attempt to draw attention to the notion that who we are strongly influences how we perceive the world.

    Even what you and I consider to be the horror of terrorist attacks is--regrettably--not perceived as horror by the terrorists. They see such acts as justifiable, even heroic and glorifying God.

  4. Reminds me of a quote... "There is no truth, only perception." I think a sensitive, empathetic soul can experience anxiety because of how they process the world around them.

  5. There is no truth. Hmm. I'll have to think that one over. And I think those sensitive, empathetic souls oftentimes get killed by anxiety. (Good thing that's not us, right?)


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