And how are we interpreting what we are seeing?
We perceive according to what we can understand. Whatever we believe we will see.
We make the meaning in our mind.
Perceptions become misperceptions when we fail to open our heart/mind to what is possible.
And misperceptions lead to misunderstandings, which can lead to all kinds of problems.
An example is how we feel when dark storm clouds appear on our horizon. Do we remember that clear blue skies lie above?
Or are we so disturbed by the clouds that we forget the sun is still shining?
When obstacles obscure the path we can get lost.
It is in these difficult times that I remind myself that the good, the true and the beautiful are still here. I need only explore the lens through which I’m looking.
What obscures my vision?
The Buddha has wisely placed these obstacles (storm clouds) that challenge our happiness into three major categories: craving, aversion and delusion.
When we don’t like what is here we try to change it, push it away, get more of what we want, and thus become delusionary.
We crave. We get angry or try hiding/running from what we see. All this leads to delusion.
We have forgotten what we really are, which is pure, radiant mind.
When we can see only the storm clouds we miss the reality of the possibilities that are already here. There is a clearness from which we can respond.
All this begins in our mind, and it is here that we can see differently.
Will we respond, or react?
We may think some outside person or event has caused our unhappiness. But it is always the way we engage with each of these situations.
Inner storm clouds appear because of causes and conditions that have been set into motion. It is natural, organic that they appear.
Rather than fighting the storms we can walk through them. They have come not only to pass, but to teach us something valuable as we explore our beliefs.
We grow spiritually by meeting these difficulties and remembering that the clear blue sky is here. The conditions that created this situation are already on their way out.
It is our connectedness to the Great Universal All that never changes, though it is always in flow.
Can we know that our safety is always here, for we are not the body we seem to inhabit. We are the entire flow of the ocean.
“We are not a drop in the ocean. We are the entire ocean in a drop.” Rumi
Can we live with paradox? We are the drop as well as the ocean. We are not one or the other, but both, always flowing.
Remembering this, knowing this, we will feel connected and whole regardless of the situation.
Acting from our connectedness we develop compassion which places us on a new path—one without the old potholes that we used to fall into.
Isn’t this amazing? This great power lies within us. It is love. It is wisdom. We have been created from this.
“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love. Therefore out of lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3
Love provides us with what we need each moment of our existence. It may not be what the ego desires (probably won’t be) but it is always what the soul needs for spiritual growth and true joy.
Are we willing to see this possibility? Are we willing to explore our beliefs and open to the truth that lies under our misperceptions—our interpretations?
We can train our awareness to walk through the storms while knowing the beauty of life calls us forward.
We can choose to remember the sun is here right now, shining brightly.
We are a flow of energy, a movement of breath, of spirit. Spirit clings to nothing. We are safe enough right now to let go.
We are a centerpoint that lives everywhere and becomes everything. We can let life be what it is and watch the flow in all its phases.
This poem by Adrienne Rich poem enlightens us to this spiritual process:
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
I invite you to explore life with courage. There are many possibilities and treasures lying within what was thought to be wreckage—when we are willing to let go of the story of the wreckage (and all the blame) by accepting our emotions, sitting with them, letting them be what they are and observing the beliefs that are attached. They get thinner and eventually dissolve as we do this.
When we can sit with the difficulty, feel the feelings, pay attention to the breath, life comes and goes organically. It breathes in and out.
This personality that we’ve come to believe we are simply isn’t our truth, nor are the stories we tell about it. That was the myth.
Reality is the breath that enters us, heals us, and leaves us. This breath fills us with cosmic energy, nourishes us and leads us into new possibilities.
Awesome, isn’t it?