“We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.”— Rabbi Shemuel ben Nachmani, as quoted in the Talmudic tractate Berakhot (55b.)
Anaïs Nin also reflected the same idea. Seeing is not believing—believing is seeing. Our perception is shaped by our previous experiences.
What we say, and how we approach something is always through filters of our making.
I started to ponder today about how other’s perceptions of themselves and their relationship to us, informs their message for us.
As spiritual seekers, we look to the words of others to show us the truth.
As patients we look to the words of the doctors to show us the truth.
As someone facing challenging times we seek out friends for support and help, and hope that they too will reveal the truth.
In doing so it is easy to become attached to the words of others. We begin to count on them. We grasp at the hope that things will turn out the way we want.
Yet in our heart of hearts we know that the truth doesn’t lie there.
We have become attached to the outcome that we hope for, rather than seeing clearly all of reality.
In yoga this is called avidya – not seeing things as they are. We become attached to how we want things to be. We mistake the impermanent for the eternal.
Today I woke up and saw the messages as a reflection of others’ perceptions and experiences. In seeing this I was able to detach and face a bigger reality.
There must be a letting go of what we are attached to, in order to truly find our middle ground and inner peace.
The ultimate attachment we have is to life as we know it and life itself. Accepting impermanence over life is not an easy thing. We may understand it intellectually, but facing it and living it can be so darn hard.
I find comfort in this version of the Buddha’s Five Remembrances, offered by Thich Nhat Hanh in The Plum Village Chanting Book.
- I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
- I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.
- I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
- All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
- My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
May you all feel the warm embrace of compassion and understanding for this fear filled path called life. For those of you facing this ultimate reality, may you find a way to let go and be at peace.