How many times have we heard, “It’s all a matter of perspective”? A situation that one person thinks is wonderful may be horrible to someone else. One person’s trash is another’s treasure. We may see the same thing or experience the same event, but our perspective dictates how we will interact with it and remember it.
In the first illustration, two jail inmates are painting in their cell. There is a window through which they have a fairly nice view. There are bars on the window. The inmate on the left sees only the bars, while the inmate on the right sees only the view beyond the bars. Which perspective would you rather have?
In the second illustration, a man is stranded on a desert island and sees a person coming toward him in a boat. He is overjoyed, thinking that he will be rescued. Meanwhile, the man in the boat has been at sea for a long time and probably hasn’t had anything to eat for a while. He sees the man on the desert island and is excited, thinking that he will finally have something to eat and drink. (The island looks pretty small, however.) Two heads are better than one when solving problems, so perhaps they will be able to figure out what to do, assuming that they speak the same language.
The third illustration reminds us of the story, “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” According to the story, each blind man was allowed to touch one part of the elephant, and according to the part that he touched, he likened the animal to a fan (the ear), a rope (the tail), a wall (the elephant’s side), a spear (the tusk), a tree trunk (the leg) or a snake (the elephant’s trunk). All were partially right and partially wrong, because they had experience with only one part of the elephant. Our perspective on everything that we see and experience has to do with what “part” of the whole we are engaged with. The part that we don’t see, or don’t engage with, is missing. Instead of quarreling about who is right, wouldn’t it be better if they could have a conversation and accept that each one of them has something to add to the others’ knowledge?
Another way to illustrate the part that is missing is this cartoon of a rhinoceros painting a picture. He paints everything that he can see, but the horn in the middle of his head obscures his vision. This begs the question: What part of our own vision is obscured? What elements are we unable to see? Is there a way to become aware of the part that is missing?
The last illustration shows some West African boys. One of them is saying that in North America, kids have to sit in classrooms all day and if they move around, get excited, or make too much noise, they are given drugs to make them quiet. They only get exercise from video games, and their food is fake and full of dangerous chemicals. Another child suggests that maybe they should take up donations for the kids in North America. This one illustrates the fact that our beliefs about ourselves and our way of life, relative to that of others, forms a framework through which we judge others.
Most of us are able to see things through a number of perspectives: that of our gender, our race, our culture, and our nation. Some of us see from the perspective of youth, while others see from the perspective of old age. Some of us see things from the perspective of wealth, while others see from the perspective of poverty. Our own perspective is not absolute; it is relative. To put our own perspective into the larger perspective is the challenge.
There is one other perspective from which we can view our lives, that of Soul. In order to view situations and events as Soul, it is necessary for us to quiet the mind and leave the body behind. Most of us have to rely on meditation or contemplation to achieve this state of realization. A few great Souls have achieved a state of consciousness where they can bring the Soul perspective to bear at any time, without the need to stop and go into meditation.
From the Soul perspective, we are powerful and complete beings in direct and ongoing contact with Divine Spirit. We are surrounded by God’s love and the love of other Souls with whom we share our lives. We are Love and Light. We are temporarily visiting the physical world, and wearing physical, mental and emotional bodies in order to live, move and have our being in the physical world. We are here to learn, grow, and serve. 🙂