Perspective

by Rev. Amari Magdalena

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There was a wonderful share the other day on Facebook about perspective.  It got me thinking about just how relevant perspective is to our state of mind and contentment in life. For many of us, particularly those living alone, it is easy to lose perspective when we encounter the bumps and detours that life presents; no one to bounce things off of.  For others even living with others, perspective can be skewed.  All of us are, at times, fairly insular in our world view; we are the center of our universe.

When our small universe presents challenges of body, mind or spirit, we often fall into feeling sorry for ourselves with the accompanying pity party.  At times, we choose to wallow in the suffering that we are experiencing.  Some choose to isolate themselves at times like this; others broadcast it through their downtrodden energy.

It strikes me that what is needed are new filters through which to view challenges, bumps and detours. We might liken this to using a camera.  Some people are more adept with the instrument; others not.

What is clear to me is that we each have an internal camera, along with our external one (our eyes).  To a certain degree, we simply take a picture of what we see with your eyes.  Yet through processing or developing the picture our internal camera tweaks the picture: in modern terms, we might say we Photoshop it.  That internal processing is very unique and determined to a great extent by our life experiences and cultural inculcation.

Additionally, we seem to have a propensity to repeat the very same processing method we’ve previously used for similar pictures.  We are on a form of auto-pilot with those. This can be time-saving yet may also represent a sort of blindness.  Perhaps we do this repeat procedure to save time; perhaps it is simply habit.

If we continue to process pictures on auto-play or pilot we are not considering the present moment, circumstances, and presentation before us.  This creates a lot of views that may be outdated or distorted.  The distortion effect may lead to misunderstanding, prejudice, assumption, and limited thinking.

We could apply this to the events in our own lives or to our perception of events unfolding before us in the lives of others or the world.  Truth may go begging when our camera lens is clouded or fractured.  Recognizing any distortion by running our perceptions through a new truth filter may be of great value.  Asking or questioning ourselves, when we find ourselves making judgments about a person or circumstances, may help us discover new truths.

In my own life when I question negative thinking, I often ask, “Is this true today?
Are the feelings or thoughts or perceptions I am experiencing based in what is presently before me or some half truth from another time and place?  This helps me greatly in clearing my filter and perhaps coming up with new ways to view what my camera is focusing on.

The quote below sums up my thinking on this subject.  One can just as easily apply it to “when watching yourself and your reactions….”  I believe that we can choose to change our perceptions through highly focused awareness and commitment to re-viewing all that is within our scope; especially when it is causing us any angst or unhappiness.

The choice to see heaven or hell each day is ours alone.  No external force can manipulate our inner camera, truly.  We alone can “Windex” our perceptions and click on a focus that creates greater happiness and contentment.

“…and so it is with life.  What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the Window through which we look.” 

Intolerance

By Rev. Amari Magdalena

 

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Intolerance, defined as “unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect opinions or beliefs contrary to one’s one.”   It’s Latin basis: “in” for not; “tolerantem” for to bear, or endure. Seems, to me, to be a lot of that floating around these days especially on the social media sites.

We all have our opinions and beliefs.  Some are shaped by our life experiences; some by exposure to belief systems that we particularly resonate with.  Opinions and beliefs are valuable to the extent that our ego investment in them doesn’t allow for a change of mind or awakening to the new.  They become a problem mostly when we are disrespectful to those opinions and beliefs of others not in concert with ours.

Lately there has been major intolerance regarding the political debacle that we are witness to in this election year.  Another cyber world example of intolerance is regarding food-vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, etc.  Public breastfeeding is yet another example of polarized opining. Global warming or climate change, yet another.  Transgender use of bathrooms; another hot button.  So many areas of disagreement. The issue is not necessarily about our personal views on any of these subjects rather our lack of respect for views that are 180 degrees from our cherished opinions.

Many spiritually based people hold a precious view of a world that works for everyone, these days.  Much is said about bringing everyone on board to express their particular gift or talent and find appreciation in so doing.  The word Peace probably has exponential hits or clicks every day.  Yet it’s all just empty words unless we are willing to extend respect to those who differ with our opinion, beliefs, views.

As I’ve been contemplating this blog for a week or so, I have become painfully aware of my own areas of intolerance.  I’ve found myself observing something that doesn’t resonate with me and a judgment or intolerance floating across my mind.  To remedy this, I’ve turned my negative judgment around and found a way to express the thought in a more positive vein.  Perhaps there is something I may learn by what I am witnessing; or possibly it will give more credence to holding my belief with more reverence.  Yet R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is required if I am to move past intolerance and judgment.

Aretha socked it to us in her famous song.  It may be time to revisit its wisdom. “Ain’t gonna do your wrong.”  Catch that last word, wrong.  When we are intolerant, judgmental, and make the other person wrong, there is no possibility of respect–let alone peacemaking.   Respect too has Latin origins:  respicere (see respect (n.). Meaning “treat with deferential regard or esteem.”

Can you imagine a world in which we greet people “I esteem you?”  Possibly it is a better greeting than Namaste because it truly says that I/we/you honor the person in front of us and not just the spirit within. And that, my friends, is what I truly believe is necessary for us to create a world that crosses all lines of division: ethnic, creed, religion, culture, age, sexual orientation, etc.

If I want to know what makes you tick, I can only find that out by being willing to listen to you, truly listen and pay you due respect.  For example, my oldest son is politically my polar opposite in allegiances.  Yet, I learn something every single time that we have an in depth discussion about his beliefs.  I discover that some of it does in fact resonate; some does not.  I know that if we had more flexibility in our body politic of the moment, this kind of listening could only strengthen platforms by incorporating doable ideas that potentially serve all of the people.

Discussions about food could take on a different tone.  Instead of shaming and blaming, vegans and vegetarians could share their personal stories of increased health and energy.  Politicians could choose broader platforms that address a broader brush of their constituency.  Climate change could be opened up more for discussion without so much human shame and blame.  Breastfeeding and human sexuality would have their due if we were willing to explore our deeper feelings about our bodies and their function.  The growing LGBT community could be viewed with compassion for their deep struggles in societies that hold more concrete beliefs on what is ‘normal’ and not in human sexual behavior.

We are birds of many colors and hues.  By becoming more and more aware of respect, esteem, and tolerance, I believe we’d have a much better chance of creating a world community of love and compassion.  I’m committed to working on my areas of intolerance.  I invite you to have that “Come to Jesus” moment yourself and learn to give what you wish to receive; R.E.S.P.E.C.T.