A world exists only for a mind that perceives it.
While studying German Philosopher Immanuel Kant back in a college philosophy class, I was introduced to the concept that our world is created by our minds, and what we perceive is a direct reflection of that. As a revolutionary thinker of his time, Kant argued that our experiences are in fact structured by our minds.
The concrete world does in fact exist. We can touch and feel things, but does it really exist in the way we think it does? Is what we see merely a creation of our own mind, as if in a dream? My passion to investigate these questions began from this point forward and still continues today.
In every day life, it’s easy to see how a situation can become far worse than it needs to be simply because of reactive thinking. Our normal tendency is to engage in impulsive thoughts such as: I can’t take this any more, why is this happening to me? I found myself in this mind space recently. Reactive and defensive emotions started to bubble up and my mind went right into overdrive. The following thought, driven by emotion came to mind: “I’m ready to bolt if [insert name/situation here] pushes my buttons again.” This experience was paralyzing and made me feel victimized. I felt as if there was no choice in that moment other than a feeling of desperation because I was consumed with delusion. Emotions such as anger and fear have the power to transform our world into a living hell. In retrospect, we can see how absurd (and even a little scary) it is that our minds went to that irrational place.
The manure of experience– take a hard look at your garbage
I realized that I had just two choices in this situation and it was to either remain in a place of judgement or in a place of gratitude. I chose the higher road of gratitude. I was grateful for this experience, even with all it’s darkness because it forced me to really take a look. Face the manure of my experience– open to the reality that this was on my path for a reason to open my mind to liberation, showing me what I need to abandon. Tough times have a funny way of doing that, and experiencing the garbage, or “manure” of our experience is how we are able to sift through it all to see what’s useful and what’s not. The garbage of anger, attachment, pride are the delusions that cloud our vision of how we see our world. Imagining that difficult people and circumstances as “kind teachers” almost seems silly and naive during these moments.
I challenge you to take a hard look today at YOUR experience.
Just for today, consider this little experiment: When someone gets in your face– like your boss, a difficult co-worker, your partner or a friend, make asking yourself these questions automatic:
- What is this person or circumstance showing me?
- What do I need to abandon?
(hint, hint, the answer: anger, pride, jealously, impatience, etc.)
These answers might not be apparent right away, because it’s not the way we usually think. Our normal reaction is: “it’s them, not us,” but this way of thinking takes the ball back out of your court– you allow the situation to control you. If you keep applying these answers in your daily life, you’ll begin to see your world through a different lens, see each and every situation as a teacher. As a result, your life gets fuller and you get happier!