I recently bought some clothes, thinking that they looked nice. Shortly afterwards I was informed that the colour did not suit me and that they were a strange choice. For a moment I took refuge in the fact that maybe I have better taste, that I have an interesting dress sense, and anyway I don’t have too much interest in criteria like colour. I had a certain notion of how these clothes were right. Normally when our judgment is questioned we need to rationalize and reduce some dissonance between our “good judgment” and others’ opinions. However, I soon admitted to myself that others are probably more objective and that I was more than likely wrong.
I know that in most things, I see through my own subjective filters, so it is likely the same for my dress sense. We think we see something as it is. But really it is we see it through our own conditioning and history, and often through the story which is dominant in our life at that moment. Indeed, most thinking is not pure thought, but is rather a self-focused emotional activity. A similar process applies to the words we use. Something may be said to us with the best of intentions but we hear it through the emotional place we are standing. Or similarly, a simple email or text message which we send can be understood completely differently by the person receiving it, because of where they are at, and as a result they move to an interpretation which was never intended.
Practice is essentially clarifying our vision. We learn to sit still, to befriend ourselves. We return to sit each day in order to see through our mental processes, with all their noise; and to increasingly enter into reality as-it-actually-is. We see that we can hardly take a breath without a thought or opinion or judgment going through our head. We see that we prefer to relate to life through our thoughts and frequently our fears. Our natural calm mind is often clouded by the limited self-image created by habitual, obsessive, neuronal patterns. Practice works on this, allowing us let go of the fears that drive our thoughts, getting closer to the moment as it is. We observe the mind in order to not get lost in it. We learn to relate simply with the thoughts, feelings and experiences that arise as we sit. Slowly we get to see the world more objectively. To see things as they are, not as I want them to be.