Tag Archives: Mind

Becoming Aware of Perspective

snowbranches.jpgOne revolutionary change in modern times is that we are now becoming able to notice the way we take on particular perspectives about the things we know about. This is possible because we are beginning to be able to clearly observe how our inner processes work. In the past such patterns of thinking have been unconscious. However our growing ability to observe our own thought processes allows us now to watch what our minds are doing critically and see if our old ways are still helpful to our well-being or not.

Our interpretations, beliefs and assumptions (which we are now able to be more or less aware of) have been fit together in a very automatic way to create perspective. We take a stand mentally. We adopt a position on issues that are important to us, deciding who is right and who is wrong, and whose opinion is the closest to truth as far as we can tell.

We may adopt the opinions of others because they feel right to us, or we may adopt independent positions directly from our own thinking processes. In both cases, what we are doing is relying on our mental processes directly or indirectly to tell us how to position ourselves in relation to the issues of our day. After all, having a personal perspective has been equivalent to more or less inflexible positionality up until now.

Without it being about right or wrong, our perspective on a simple object like a tree or a flower depends on where we are standing when we observe it. Similarly (until we are ready to move beyond this way of being) our perspective on the Israeli-Palestine conflict depends on what mental structures we are utilizing to think about what is happening. If we grew up in Isreal we would naturally as children have taken on the prevalent beliefs and assumptions of our families and communities in an age-old survival based maneuver designed to help us fit in. Our genes perhaps, but also certainly the social and cultural forces around us when we are developing our thinking naturally lead us to hold the perspective that we are given.

Another way of saying this would be to say that we are trained to conform to our genes and our cultures in order to survive to adulthood. If we were brought up in the Palestine we would also do this because we are also human, but the end result of course would be the taking of an opposing perspective.

A way out of the continuing conflict between two such opposing perspectives would be revealed when human capabilities began to develop to the point where the building and holding of perspectives is revealed as self-constructed and not reflecting the full reality of what is occurring. In fact whatever perspective we take reveals only a fraction of what is actually occurring until such time as we are able to hold them much more lightly and view situations from varying perspectives. This would be like an observer viewing an object from various angles, allowing it to be more fully seen, something that we naturally do with objects.

© 2010 Alice Gardner from her upcoming book “Making Sense of Tumultuous Times” (working title).

First book: “Life Beyond Belief, Everyday Living as Spiritual Practice” available on Amazon, as a kindle book, other ebook, or at your local bookstore by request.


The Deepest Bow


Old habits of mind
Want to box and label
What is seen,
Safely containing
All things, all experience,
In the known world.

But a new wind
Blows through the mind
Not looking for refuge from life.
Seeing beyond itself
Into the alive world
Of happenings and presences,
Mysterious and unfathomable.
So far beyond thought
That mind lies down
In the deepest bow possible
Dumbfounded and reverent.

Then rising again,
From its bow
In hopeful adoration
Only wanting to serve
What it doesn’t understand.

by Alice Gardner   9/19/09