The other day, my wife and I were shopping for beds sheets and came upon this great deal of buy two for the price of one. We picked at the pile of plastic wrapped packets for some time trying to select the nicest color and size. My pick was always rejected as too blue or too green, while hers I seemed to be rejecting as too gaudy or too plain. We just didn’t seem to agree and finally we dumped the deal and moved to another section of the mall where other goodies were on for sale. Nothing serious happened here of course, but it could have if we insisted on buying something at the bed-sheet stand, our subconscious not quite willing to agree. Knowing that differences could lead to conflict, we knew by now when to let it go for the moment and then attempt later when our wits were a bit more sober and ready to come to a compromise. This vignette from our day is not unlike what most of us go through in life.
Don’t we sometimes wonder why we like someone, and dislike another? Why we like the taste of something and abhor another? Feel a certain color or style is gaudy or outrageous, and another absolutely mesmerizing? Surely, there must be those that will see our gaudy as mesmerizing also, and our tasty food horrible. But reflecting on this scenario brings us to the realization that these objects had nothing to do with what they actually were in our mind. All our opinions of likes and dislikes arose from within us -- from our own background of our formed assumptions and memories of the past that we carry with us.
Our opinions and assumptions are our individuality, and unfortunately, we hold on to this dearly. We form these peculiarities over time as we grow up and soon, unawares, have built a high wall around us that protects us to the varying degrees of defensiveness we have come to espouse. It can be a simple dissonance as in our case of shopping that day, to something quite serious that can turn into altercations that leave people feeling alienated for long periods of time. It can be a case where blame will be then cast on the reasons for the alienation. We rationalize that it is always because of the view of the other person that this situation came to be. It is what someone or the other did to us that we are in such misery in our lives, and the list can go on. In reality, any situation is what it is because of what we created; the value we imputed to the situation at hand. The raw material is out there as fact, totally neutral, and we create the story out of it by giving it meaning – good or bad.
The knife is a knife, but it is a good thing in the hands of a surgeon who will save a life with it, or it can be a bad thing in the hands of a criminal. The knife is still the knife. It didn’t do the killing; it was just an instrument in someone’s hand. The intension to kill or save a life came from the mind of the person carrying the knife. So we should not blame the knife, but ourselves. In fact, we should not blame anyone for anything that happens; we must see our role in it that landed us in that situation and focus on improving our action the next item. In every situation in our lives, this is the perspective we must take. Even in the act of getting angry, we have a choice -- of being or not being angry. If we can accept this truth – that we are indeed the source of our problems and our suffering, and that no one else is to be blamed, then our healing will begin in earnest.