To change the world, you need only perceive it in a different light.
~ Dr. Walter Doyle Staples
Wish You a Very Happy, Prosperous and Healthy 2015! May This Year Bestow Peace and Wisdom to All of Us!
When I was thinking, which topic to start the New Year, I received a mail from Christie. I helped Christie, sometime ago, in setting priority in her life and gave the mantra: “Live by Priority.” In the recent mail, she asked me this beautiful question:
What is the one thing that I recommend her to work on this year to make her life better and happier?
I found the idea wonderful and decided to share that one thing with you too which I recommended to Christie. I didn’t ask her to work on some tough mental or physical exercise, which required willpower, to ease her stress or pain in difficult times.
Is willpower at our will?
I don’t think so. I read some self-help books which say to apply willpower in every matter as if there is some switch to turn our willpower on or off.
I didn’t ask her to be optimistic to enjoy happiness. After all, what is optimism? Optimism is a condition in which a person knows that he is in trouble and there is no way out but he has to expect the best; he has to believe that good will eventually triumph over evil – clouds of difficulty will part away on its own.
It is easy to talk about being optimistic and to apply willpower, but is it easy practically?
Interpretation is everything
Today, I’m going to share something more fundamental than these. I’m going to share with you a concept – the moment you grasp it fully, you will transform into a better and happier person forever. You don’t have to do anything; you just have to understand it; mere reading won’t serve the purpose. You have to, consciously, take it deep into your subconscious.
Let’s find out what that concept is! Look at the lines of the beautiful haiku, written by Kokila Gupta Pioneer of Hindi Haiku, below:
the kettle shattered
all scattered topsy turvy
my kids are awake!
What do you draw from these lines? Let me tell you what I got from these:
Sad interpretation of the haiku
At first glance, I see a mother, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, who brings morning tea for her children. She couldn’t control the tremors in her hands, and kettle made up of bone china shatters on the ground. Her children awake from the noise. This event scatters all her hopes and dreams. Her life becomes topsy-turvy.
She doesn’t want to reveal her helplessness to them. Mother is a symbol of strength. Whenever we face any trouble and difficulty in life, most of us remember our mother. This is because we know that our mother had faced so much pain to bring us to this world and when she knows that we are in trouble, she could do anything to save us from any difficulty; she would even jump in fire to save our lives.
Her peace scatters. She is worried, “If she couldn’t control a kettle – even tremors in her hand, how will she save her children in difficulties?” She is thinking, “Now, it’s been revealed to her children; how do they believe that their mother will come to their rescue in difficult times?”
This meaning is sad and heart-wrenching, but is this the only meaning?
No. Let’s have a look on this:
Happy interpretation of the haiku
Mother always keeps the things at their proper place. She maintains a state of order in house. Children are always shouting and asking their mother about their things because they place their things anywhere and then forget where they have put those things. Mother collects those things from odd places and put them to their proper places.
Scattered things may be taken as a sign that children are present there. If we look from this perspective, they only indicate the presence of children in their active mode.
Now, I see a mother who enters in their children’s room at night to put scattered toys and other things at their proper place. She takes the teddy out of the bed and put blankets over her children to ensure their good sleep. She brings order in that room and leaves the room after switching the lights off.
When she comes in the morning, she sees toy kettle is shattered and all toys are again scattered around the room. Her children are awake and playing with them. She is thinking that all her yesterday’s hard work went into vain; she has to do it again. But she is not angry. Instead, she is happy. There is a smile on her face and that smile could not be put in words. In words of Hellen Keller, “The most and best beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
This meaning is positive and pleasant, but could there be any other perspectives?
Yes. What do you say about this?
Interpretation beyond happiness and sorrow
The kettle shattered means Big Bang happened – the Universe was created. All scattered topsy-turvy could be seen as the concept of Universe as Upside Down Tree, espoused in Geeta. And, we, human beings – children of God, are supposed to be awakened to see the order amid chaos.
Doctrine of Upside Down Tree
What is the meaning of Universe as Upside Down Tree? What is the need to compare the Universe with an Upside Down Tree? What does it indicate?
It simply indicates that what we see outside is mere projection of ourselves; they are just echo of our own sounds.
I heard a story of a boy who once got angry with his mother and ran out of the house to the valley shouting at her “I hate you, I hate you.....” At valley, he heard the same voice echoing back. He got frightened and ran back to his mother for comfort and protection. He knows, somewhere in his subconscious, “Putro kuputro jayate, kumata na bhavati,” which means a child could be a bad child but no bad mother exists.
He went to her and said there lived a bad boy in the valley who yelled “I hate you, I hate you.....” Mother understood his predicament. She knew that he got scared from his own echo. We too get scared from our own echo and believe that someone is yelling at us.
Mother advised him to go again to the valley and say aloud “I love you, I love you....” He went and said; this time, to his surprise, he heard back, “I love you, I love you....” This taught a lesson to him that what you hear is the reflection of your own mood.
The concept of Inverted Tree is an indication that what we believe is true, in general, is not actually the truth; what we see in mirror is not the actual entity but only the reflection of ourselves. The meanings we draw, in our day to day life, come from within not from outside.
Knowledge is interpretation
Do you think the meanings I got from those lines lie in them? Do you think those lines are saying that meanings lie outside the lines?
Well, we can never know what those lines are saying; we can only know what we get from those lines. It’s worth repeating, “We can never know what others say; we can only know what we hear.”
Let it understand very clearly. The moment you understand it clearly, your life transforms. You cannot be the same person after realizing it in entirety. There is no way to remain the same.
Do objects have colour
We can only know through our senses. All the information collected by our senses comes before mind for interpretation. All the things we believe we know are only our interpretations. A normal human being interprets many colours in the information collected by his eyes. On the other hand, a colour blind cannot interpret colours in the same way as interpreted by a normal one in the information collected by his eyes.
What do you think colours lie in objects or within us? What do you think could you ever know the actual colour of any object?
Do words have meaning
We can never know anything outside of us; what we feel about outside of us is only our interpretation of outside and most of it is influenced by our state of mind. What we see, hear or feel is only reflection of our own mental state.
My first interpretation of those lines came just after watching the movie: “Love and other drugs.” Heroine in the movie is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. In a scene, a glass tumbler drops on ground and shatters because she couldn’t stop the tremors in her hands. My mind was under the influence of thoughts of Parkinson’s and tremors in hands at the time of interpretation.
My second interpretation was made after reading other reader’s comments on the post. At that time, some other thoughts were dominating my mind.
When I read those lines third time, I was in entirely different mental state because I had just finished my evening meditation. All my interpretations are reflections of my mental state.
Mind is a projector
The Doctrine of Upside Down Tree states what we see as upright is actually inverted and vice versa. The doctrine also states that to see the things upright, we have to invert ourselves – we have to reverse our focus of observation. We have to look within to find happiness instead of searching outside. That is why; Gandhiji said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Let it understand in this way. The outside Universe is just a projection as the projection on cinema screen. You cannot bring change in the cinema by altering the screen. What is seen on the screen is projected by a projector. Our mind plays the role of a projector. But projector is not enough; we need reel to feed in the projector for projection. Our thoughts serve the purpose of reel. What we feed to our mind is projected outside.
To bring the change outside, we have to change inside by giving conscious thoughts to our mind. Under the influence of different thoughts, our mind interprets the same thing differently.
Outcome of reasoning are not facts
Once, a man spat on Buddha’s face. All Buddha’s disciple wanted to teach the man a lesson. But Buddha stopped his disciples from attacking him and let him go. At night, when the man was thinking about the incidence, he realized the blunder he did that morning. He comprehended how kind Buddha was! How Buddha save him! He couldn’t contend himself; tears burst from his eyes cats and dogs. He cried whole night out of repentance. He couldn’t sleep that night; his eyes had become red and swollen.
In early morning of next day, the man decided to go to Buddha for asking forgiveness. Upon seeing him entering the premise with swollen red eyes, Buddha’s disciple reasoned that this is because of his anger and hatred against Buddha and startled towards him with the intention to punish him. But, in fact, their interpretation was influenced by their own hatred and anger against the man. They were just seeing their own feeling of hatred and anger in his eyes. What they were seeing in his eyes was the reflection of their own mental state.
Buddha intervened and saved him once more. The man fell on Buddha’s feet, tears again started to gush down his cheeks. Buddha said to his disciples, “See the man; he is now a changed person. He is not the man who spat on me yesterday; otherwise, he would not have fallen on my feet. Transformation occurs within a moment by conscious understanding and realization.”
Why the same eyes appeared differently to Buddha and his disciples? Is that because they were in different mental state?
Taking responsibility is the key
Understand that you have the power over circumstances. It is you who define circumstances. It is you who put meaning in everything. It is you who define the rules of your happiness and sorrow. It is you who define the terms of your victory and defeat. You are the master of yourself. No one has power over you. It is you only who give others the power over yourself.
Next time, when you feel unpleasant over something, realize it is your own unpleasant mood that is reflecting in that particular thing or circumstances. Your realization, itself, instantly calms the unpleasant feeling within you. But the irony is you cannot realize immediately at an excited state that what you are facing is the projection of your own state of mind which is under your control.
Here is a solution for it: Whenever you find yourself in an excited state, try to relieve your mind from that state by regulating your breathing pattern – breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly. Breathe from diaphragm more than the upper chest. This abdominal breathing is one of the best relaxation techniques.
After gaining your composure, switch your mind to pleasant state by reminding yourself of some pleasant experiences of your past.
You may have experienced tears in your eyes and sulky mood when reliving some sad experiences of past. The same is true with reliving positive experiences, such as remembering the overall sense of well-being that comes from being deeply happy. This is because good memories can cause the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure.
I not only recommend you to switch your mind from unpleasant mood to pleasant one, but also advise you to switch your mind occasionally from happy to sad state of mind; so that you know you have absolute power over yourself and the circumstances around you. And happiness and sorrow are nothing but your state of mind which is under your direct control.
Define your happiness
It is not the circumstances that affect your life. It is not the circumstances that give you the feeling of success or failure, love or hatred, happiness or sorrow. It is the MEANING YOU DEFINE out of circumstances that determines your feeling of pleasure or pain.
I know a couple who used to fight with each other on small things. Their relationship was on the verge of collapse. In fact, they decided to live a separate life but couldn't live separately for more than three months. Their problem was that they couldn't stop fighting each other and they also couldn't leave each other. They finally realized that the problem lies in the definition: what they earlier defined as fighting, they now defined it as expression of love. The problem resolved and they began to live happily.
There is no meaning to life except the meaning man gives his life by the unfolding of his powers.
~ Erich Fromm
Hope the article fans the flame of POSITIVITY within you.
Have a nice day!