DO NOT JUDGE BY APPEARANCES — PART II
In Part I we talked about how the world sees things, about how the world of duality and relativity is a world of appearances, and that those appearances shift and change, often suddenly. This is the “Wheel of Fortune” that image from medieval times that illustrated the up-and-down nature of reality.
Implicit in the concept was the idea that nobody was immune to the random turn of the wheel. You could be a king today and in a dungeon tomorrow. You could be healthy and wealthy today and in misery, sickness and poverty without warning. Fortunes shifted in a random and illogical way. Nothing made sense....
In modern times, we all likely have experienced this phenomenon. I know I have. In 2006, I was on top of the world/wheel. I was a local elected official, I was working in my dream career, I was going places. I had just gotten married. That summer, I had taken one of my daughters on an amazing vacation to Paris, France. I had been accepted to a prestigious placement at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where I spent three amazing weeks learning from brilliant professors and meeting fellow students from all over the world!
Within 4 months it all fell apart! I changed jobs and quickly realized I’d made a mistake. I hated being in this new position and tried every means I could think of to scramble out, back to my old employment. Nothing worked, and I almost got fired in the process!
To make matters worse, I had agreed (foolishly it seemed) to give up my political career. I was expected to resign my elected position, as a condition of taking the new job. I hesitated until the very last minute, in the hopes I could find any other job and keep my legislative office. Nothing worked!
On top of all this drama, my new marriage quickly fell apart. It apparently had never been solid to begin with but my eyes were clouded by “love” and fantasy and my own dysfunctional ways of thinking and behaving.
I soon found myself single, in a job I hated, about to lose my coveted political life, which I had worked hard to acquire and going through a “dark night of the soul” often written about by mystics, saints and sages. The façade of my life crumbled. It all came crashing down, with lots of sadness, dust, noise and fear. Nothing was right or fair..... Or so it seemed.
Judging by appearances, it certainly seemed a dire situation... and it was for me! I desperately needed to stop judging by appearances but in the middle of the storm, it is awfully hard to find a place of stability, equanimity — solid ground — much less a measure serenity and peace of mind. How was I able to pull out of this tailspin? Slowly, of course! But also using this concept of not judging by appearances.
DON’T TRY TO SET THINGS RIGHT, SEE THINGS RIGHT!
Changing the world is impossible. Yet it is often our knee-jerk reaction. The concept we want to practice is: “Don’t try to set things right, see things right.” In Prosperity Now! I write:
“Happiness is an inside job.” Happiness from outside isn’t real and doesn’t last. The initial happiness of a new car or a new job fades. When things seem wrong, people naturally try and fix their outer circumstances first.
But setting things right is not the solution. Learn to see things right!
Trying to set things right, we seek to control the world around us. If only our kids would behave, if our partner would do this (or not do that), if our job was different, if our nose was different, if we had more money, etc., our life would be different.
Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic won’t fix what is really an inside problem.
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
— John 7:24.
Using higher-level thinking, look past appearances to truth. Your denials and affirmations will help you do this: deny appearances of lack, illness, or failure will free your mind. Affirmations affirm what is real despite appearances.
In other words, instead of trying to make the world people/events conform to our expectations and needs, we learn to shift our internal landscape, to modify, clarify or purify our vision of things, so that we “see it right.” This is the way to peace and prosperity.
One of the things I did in the middle of this life-crisis, was to write a “Gratitude List.” A gratitude list is a wonderful way to shift our vision. We focus on what we have that is good, that is abundant, things we need to be grateful for. I didn’t just write a few things down, either. I made myself write and write.... and write!
And I didn’t stop until I had compiled a list of 100 things to celebrate and be grateful for!
My circumstances didn’t change immediately after jotting down #100 on the list. But I mark that point in time as the turning point in the crisis. I turned my eyes inward and looked to shift my inner landscape rather than “fix” outer circumstances. Nothing immediately changed in my outer circumstances.
But inwardly, I felt myself shift. It’s our inner vision that matters. And outer circumstances will shift of themselves to conform to how we see!
Another thing we can to to, “see it right” is to examine and change our language. We think in two main ways: pictures/images and words. We want to examine our visual beliefs and the words we take for granted, to see how our thinking is directed. Our habits of mind are vital in determining how our life will unfold.
The challenge can seem daunting. We have to be aware that we are not just up against our individual thoughts, but against the way the entire world thinks. Our family, friends, schools, media, history etc. Even our genetic code, which is really a very sophisticated “memory bank” holding “truths” that go back millions of years.
The world all agrees on certain “facts” that are believed to be inescapable: illness, death, luck, poverty, homelessness, fear, greed, etc. It’s pretty clear that negative beliefs and ideas hold sway.
For example, if I ask you to define the word paranoia, you could probably to it. But what is the opposite of paranoia? Is there one?
Well, in Prosperity Now! we discover and begin to use the concept embodied in this word:
Pronoia is the belief that everyone and everything is conspiring to help me succeed.
Sadly, nearly everyone on the entire planet can tell you what Paranoia is — the belief that everyone and everything conspiring to hurt me. But how many of us know that paranoia has an opposite!
Rob Brezsny, in his book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings, offers us an extensive array of experiments, games, rituals, and meditations you can use to boost your levels of ingenious happiness.
I highly recommend this book. And I highly recommend using these and other techniques to shift your mind, away from futile and often insane urges to “set things right” and to begin to train your mind to “see things right.”
The difference will astound you. It is nothing short of a miracle, which A Course in Miracles defines as shift in our perspective.
And, when you feel the shift inside, ”the peace that passes all understanding” will settle over you like a serene blanket of tranquility....
Love and Blessings,