I was given the book “Buddhism Without Beliefs” by a friend recently. It is one of those books I had seen many times in Barnes & Noble and considered buying and even flipped through because it is not too big and therefore not too expensive and thought it was just provocative enough to be worth investing in. But I never did, so I was interested in reading it when my friend passed it on to me.
And it was a good read for the most part. Some of it got very dry but it had some nuggets of insight that will likely stick with me.
One of them was about perceptions and feelings. To most people there is probably a subtle difference between the two. Meditation reveals a veritable gulf between things that until then had been a subtle gap.
My perceptions of a person inform my feelings toward that person. The tough part is that my perception can be informed by feelings as well.
Say I have an enemy. You’ll ask me why that person is my enemy. I’ll say because he’s a jerk. You’ll ask what he did that makes me think he’s a jerk. I’ll say he said this or that to me on the bus one morning. Well there you go. I don’t know why he said this or that to me on the bus that morning. I have already let my incomplete perception of the situation paint the full picture. This perception informs my feelings toward this person.
Granted having a bad day is no excuse to say “this or that” to a person and maybe they really were a jerk for that moment. But still I’ve made up my own set of circumstances beyond the fact of that person’s external response toward me that day on the bus. So not only have I possibly perceived wrong, but whatever his reaction was toward me, whatever it made me feel colored those perceptions. Which, as I said color my feelings toward that person as a “jerk” today.
The question is where does this all start? What is the beginning of this seemingly never ending cycle. This wheel. And it’s not necessarily a linear set of causes and effects that goes back to the “beginning of time” whatever that is. It is more about uncovering hidden fears, and prejudices within you. We all have a personal myth we’ve created. So it does require some meaningful, honest meditation on the lower self, the personality.
So it’s all about “blame yourself first” then, right? Maybe. Maybe “blame” is not the right word, depending on the situation. “Discover” or “study” is probably better. All I can blame the other guy for is the look on his face. It was my interpretation that caused me to think he was a jerk.
Hari Aum Shanti