“The mechanism through which we view the world imposes its own limitations and makes the world appear in a way that is consistent with its own limitations. Therefore the way that reality appears depends on the structure of the mind that observes it.”-Rupert Spira on the nature of the mind
We start off on the mind because it is the mechanism through which we perceive the world.
One of my favorite contemporary teachers, Rupert Spira, puts it as aforementioned: that each individual perceives the world through the filter of their own mind. That involves a myriad of thoughts, ideas, feelings, associations, biases, feelings and sensations that shape the way that any person perceives reality.
Take this cup of tea for example.
It’s my second favorite beverage, especially on lazy Saturday nights. It may be a cup of glorified-flavored-water to some, and an absolutely delicious pastime to others. Tea may be the subject of a lifetime’s study for some, the source of one’s livelihood for others, and the symbol of luxury for others. The same beverage may also be represent comfort, relaxation, and love for some; while others associate it with nothing but colonialism, exploitation, and slavery.
In reality, it’s just a cup of tea; yet we project our beliefs/ expectations/ pleasures/ fears onto it.
But our minds are prone to ‘muddling’ it in so many ways; where at times we’re open-minded, and other times we’re deeply fixated on one way of seeing things. On some level, we have the clarity to realize that the way we perceive reality is dependent on our mind, and at other times it’s almost as if we’re wearing orange-tinted glasses and wondering why everything’s orange.
What does this all lead to?
Firstly, the realization that the unobserved mind is not a reliable means of perceiving reality; for it is prone to be limited by its own biases.
Secondly, it means that the way we perceive reality is bound to our mind. The vast majority of folks are aware of this on some level.
Thirdly, that means that peace and happiness right now is ALWAYS one perspective-shift away.
There’s a saying in Buddhism: that pain is part of life, but suffering is optional. That pain and accidents may occur, but it only takes one thought to antagonize reality. What is there to be done about it?
First, be present.
Second, start by observing thoughts.
Third, acknowledge that we do not see things the way they truly are.
Fourth, acceptance of what is.
It’s as simple as taking 10 minutes to process my anger whenever something goes awry. Being present with the frustration without judgement is a unique opportunity to be before re-engaging the situation. The myriad of questions that can be asked can be many, but here are some that have worked for me:
“Why am I angry? Is it because my ego feels threatened or is there genuine danger present?”
“Do I want to feel this way willingly?”
“Whatever this is, it too shall pass.”
“Can I accept this moment for what it is?”
“Is there a way that this can be turned into a win-win situation?”
In my own experience, being present has almost always helped me bring acceptance into many situations, and from thereon become more aware of my own biases and limitations. It also improves self-awareness, which can be analogized like a muscle, getting stronger the more it is used.
In truth, pure consciousness that we are has always been at peace, but can appear to be veiled by our thoughts and feelings. By being present as much as possible in our daily lives, we can purify our minds so that we become less trigger-happy with our biases, and being able to truly see things as they are outside of our own beliefs and judgements, we therefore become less prone to create suffering in our lives.
It’s what meditation is all about after all.