human is a process of learning to interpret the meaning of events. As a
newborn, we are faced with an ambiguous universe. When some big head
shows up over our crib making strange faces and noises we have to
determine whether this is friend or foe, funny or scary. We
either laugh or cry based upon our interpretation. Some of our
interpretations we figure out for ourselves. Many of them, we get help
with. Our parents, siblings and friends share their understandings with
us and through them we learn to interpret whom we are and how the world
works. Our parent’s fears may become our fears, their
ambitions may become ours, or we may reject their interpretations as we
see their folly.
is essential that we learn to recognize danger and learn to tell what
will give us satisfaction and what will give us frustration.
Unfortunately, our interpretations are fallible. We get it wrong
sometimes. Some interpretations are based on prejudice, some on old
rules that no longer apply. Sometimes we are misinformed. Then there is
the problem that our interpretations become linked to emotion in a
process that can be quite irrational. Once the association is set in
the brain’s limbic system, emotions can push us around quite
independent of reason.
the time we are adults we will have figured out what kind of person we
are, whether the world is a safe or dangerous place, and whether you
can trust other people and their dogs or not. We will have formed a
host of preset views that simplify our lives, because they relieve us
of the need to think. We hold these truths to be self-evident.
is helpful to recognize that we are projecting our interpretations upon
the world and to challenge our core beliefs, opinions and prejudices
from time to time. A sage is able to suspend interpretation and see
with clarity, or if not able to see, at least be able to abstain
from projecting opinion upon an ambiguous stimulus.
a break from making judgments and interpretation sometimes. A few
minutes at a time, seek to experience without deciding if something is
good or bad, pretty or ugly. As you listen to the call of birds, listen
with pure perception. The song bird and the jay, both
calling—listen without pronouncing one beautiful and the other
ugly. Note your inclination to do so and welcome both sounds with
When eating, try some food you are unaccustomed to. Consider that some people may enjoy it even though it seems odd to you.
yourself to go to social events that are perhaps not your cup of tea.
Meet people outside of your usual crowd and practice being open to
whatever the experience might offer. Be mindful of your aversions and
attractions. Take them as information about yourself. Note
when they are mere prejudice and when they are intuition or sound
judgment. Judgment itself is not bad. The problem comes when it
things happen to you, seek perspective. Remember that in the long view,
things that at first feel like catastrophes may prove to be beneficial.
Loss of a job or a relationship can open one to new directions in life
that can turn out to be a boon. Winning the lottery may turn out to be
bad for you. You have to wait and see.
you recognize that you have a choice in how you interpret the phenomena
in your life, consider that you also have the ability to skew your
perceptions in a more positive direction. As you drop prejudice, you
naturally become more compassionate. Being more compassionate, you will
be more loving and kind.
As a consequence, you will experience those around you as more loving
and kind. As you give up your negative and fearful preconceptions,
opportunity will naturally unfold and life will be richer.
your thinking broadens, your relationships will likely improve. As you
experience more positive interactions, you will be able to get more
useful things done. Freed of habitual fears and aversions, your options
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