So much depends on perspective. Where you end up is always, in part, a product of where you begin. The questions you ask have a significant impact upon the answers you find. How you choose to see things is how you will see things.
So, it is important to be aware of the perspective you bring to any question, where you are starting from in your investigation and how you are seeing things before you begin.
Think about any serious issue and ask how your beliefs about this issue might change if you were to shift your perspective.
Below are a number of perspective shifts you might make in considering any topic. Consider how your view might be different if you shift from:
1. a focus on regulations and structure to a focus on transformed consciousness
Frequently, when we approach any issue, we begin by assuming there is a list of rules or a code of conduct we need to uncover that will help us navigate the tricky waters in which we find ourselves. We believe there is an instruction manual for life and, if only someone would share it with us, we would be able to play the game more successfully. We want to find the right formula to fit together the confusing puzzle of our life.
But, what if “success” does not go to the player who knows the rules best, but to the one who sees most clearly? What if life is about having a deeper consciousness of what is really going on? What if, the key is to open more deeply to reality and to see more accurately beneath the surface of life those forces that are in play in the depths of creation? What if getting the formula right is not the way forward? What if life opens to the one who listens more deeply and opens to a the consciousness of being beneath the events and circumstances with which we are so often preoccupied?
2. a concrete to a relational point of view
It often feels as if life is a series of fixed concrete realities around which we need to find our way. The goal is to come to the most accurate possible grasp of the make-up of those concrete realities and then conduct yourself accordingly. We search for “the nature of things,” as if life was fixed at creation and nothing has changed since the beginning. According to this view, life is essentially an intellectual exercise. “Success” goes to the one who has the best conceptual grasp of the fixed realities with which we are confronted and has the greatest ability to bring life into conformity with the givens of existence.
But, what if we switch to seeing life as a series of relationships? What if nothing is really fixed or determined? What if all existence is unfolding in a dynamic interplay of shifting realities which we are called to enter like a child at play? What if nothing in all of creation is actually fixed and we live in a flexible exciting universe that calls us to shift and change in response to every new reality we encounter? What if life is a dance and the challenge is to listen to the unfolding music of the universe in order to live in tune with the rhythm of the moment?
3. a dualistic stance to non-dual awareness
We almost always look at life in dualistic terms. We want to figure out which part is good and which part is bad. We want to know who is in and who is out. We view life in terms of light and darkness, right and wrong, desirable and undesirable, good and evil. There is something comforting about this vision of the universe. It feels safe, as long as we can convince ourselves (which we seldom can for long) that we are firmly planted on the good side of the divide.
But, what if life is not split into an endless series of contradictory and contradictory polarities? What if life is whole? What if absolutely every part of the whole of reality has its place? What if all those parts we think of as broken, actually have a role to play and our task is to discover how to cooperate with all of life rather than seeking to defeat the bad and encourage the good? What if all of life, just as it is, is in fact held by God? What if God is equally present in those parts we think of as bad and in those parts we choose to see as good?
4. a conceptual, programmatic, dogmatic perspective to a presence persepctive
We tend to think of our intellect as the best (or only) tool for finding our way through the sometimes confusing labyrinthine ways of life. If only we could get our intellectual formulations right, we would be able to find our way. If we could just discover the right program, we would not feel so lost. We long to trust in the strategies of “experts” to guide us towards the solutions to the confusing problems of our existence. We want to find the authority who will provide the right answers to move us forward.
But what if the purpose of life is not to find our way to a tidy solution to a mysterious problem? What if our task in life is to find the deep Presence that is available in any situation no matter how difficult or puzzling the situation may be? What if our true calling is to embrace mystery and step forward in faith that we are not alone, even when we are confused and frightened by the realities of our lives? What if there is a deep abiding Presence at the heart of all existence that holds us and wants only what is best to come into our lives? What if the purpose of our lives is simply to live in relationship to that Presence? What if we have within ourselves a deep abiding wisdom that has the capacity to guide us to the life for which we were created? What if trust is the most important skill?
5. a fix-it/need orientation to a settled/security orientation
We all feel needy to various degrees. Depending on how naturally healthy, energetic, gifted, and capable we are, our awareness of need will be greater or less. But, if we are honest, our sense of human frailty is never entirely gone. Life seems to be a journey towards some fixed condition where we will finally overcome our gaping sense of dissatisfaction with things as they are. So we work hard to get to a place where we can feel safe. We long for protection and a feeling of safety. We do everything we can to control those forces we perceive to be threatening. We respond to the world from a place of fear and insecurity.
But what if that very sense of need that plagues our lives, is ultimately an illusion? What if we are deeply secure as we are? What if life is not a journey with some distant destination towards which we must strive for our entire lives to gain some illusive quality that we feel we lack? What if we are already where we need to be? What if the true skill of life is just stopping, settling down, and being present to the moment and appreciating the sufficiency of all that is? What if security and well-being are qualities within ourselves that we can access at any time in any circumstance?
6. a scarcity model to an abundance model
It is so easy to approach life from a sense of scarcity. There never seems to be enough to go around. There always seems to be some lack. If only we had a little more money, a little more time, energy, affirmation, or success, then we would be content. The reality that scarcity is the centre of life, seems to be confirmed by the fact that we experience pain. Even when we live in incredibly privileged circumstances, we know that we are afflicted by deep inner psychic wounds and so we rush around frantically seeking an escape from the pain of life. But the pursuit of anesthetic only creates more pain.
So, what if pain is not our problem? What if reality is not defined by scarcity but by abundance? What if we stop looking at the universe as a malevolent force determined to keep from us those resources we know we need? What if the the only thing we really lack is a heart fully open to the overflowing abundance of life and spirit that is the essential nature of all creation? What if there is more than enough to go around and we start to live from this place of deep fullness?
7. power position to surrender stance
We have all absorbed the lesson from childhood that the winner is the one who has the most power. Success goes to the person who has the greatest ability to impose his will upon the circumstances of life. We want to be in control, to get our way, and to make the story of our lives unfold the way we have decided it should turn out. Life is a competition. The goal is to get to the top of the heap and be able to convince those beneath you to conform to your will.
But what if the reality is that the universe unfolds along the most life-giving path when we let go of our power and surrender? What if yielding is the way forward into true life? What if the real human skills for moving through life are softness, gentleness, and letting go? What if we become more human by clinging less? What if yielding is the true path to life?
Each of these changes in perspective represents a monumental shift in consciousness. They have the capacity to enable us to see life in new ways and to bring light into some of the frustrating dead-ends in which we so often feel trapped. By making even one of these shifts, new possibilities begin to open. We will find ourselves liberated to move in new directions with renewed hope and vision.
Try starting from a new place and see where you end up. Try a shift in perspective and see what possibilities emerge.