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The Power of Perception

June 6, 2012 1 Comment

Last night in my Foundations for Spiritual Living class, we spent a good amount of time discussing one of our assignments which was to select two articles – one that you perceived to be negative and another that you perceived to be positive.  Each of us shared our interpretations of each of the articles and noticed our different responses to each.

My first article was about the young man in MD who killed his roommate and then ate his heart and brain (I also had another one in mind – the story about the homeless man in Miami that ate another man’s face).  My second article was about a young woman who grew up homeless and was bounced around from shelter to shelter all throughout her life, but she beat the odds and is attending an ivy league in the fall.  Given the work we are doing in this class (and the other spiritual development work I have been doing), before “judging” either of these as good or evil, I meditated on both of the situations.  I prayed that I be able to see them with Divine eyes.  I also reminded myself of a line in A Course in Miracles which states there are only two types of actions:  those that are expressing love and those that are calling out for love.

After this few minutes of meditation, I found an overwhelming sense of compassion for the men that committed acts of “cannibalism” in MD and FL.  I wondered what they must have been going through at the time, what types of thoughts must be running through their minds on a consistent basis, where they are placing the blame for the perceived wrongs that have occurred in their lives.  I was moved to tears because I know that underneath all that pain they experienced there is the same Light within them that exists in me (and in everyone else)…they just didn’t see it.  Having compassion for them doesn’t mean I condone the behavior of those who commit extreme acts, but it does mean that I recognize who they are underneath their actions.  In terms of the young woman who will be attending an ivy league, I also felt compassion for her.  I thought about all of the various living conditions and schools she experienced throughout her life.  I thought about the big transition from this life to any ivy league campus.  In the end, I prayed that they both find the peace of that can only come from within, and that they connect with their passion and purpose so that their Lights may shine bright in the world.

That was such a powerful exercise for me.  Since I began seriously practicing spirituality (shifting from reading the books, attending church, and frequenting seminars to really applying it in day-to-day life), I really felt the need to push away the things and people I perceived as “negative” or “evil”.  Even just a couple months ago, I wrote a blog stating that I was not watching much TV because of all of the “negativity.”  Well, what I got through last night’s exercise is that I can choose to remember the Love and Light that exists in everything.  There is not only one way to look at the people and situations that cross my path.  Even through the thickest of clouds, there is Light behind them.  My job is the find that Light and share it with others; to be the “Light bearer.”

At the end of class, my teacher shared a powerful classic Taoist story that I’d like to leave with you all.

      The Tale of the Fortunate Farmer

As the story goes, one day this farmer’s horse ran away. His neighbor hears of his bad news and comes over to commiserate. “I hear that you lost your horse. That is bad news and bad luck.”

“Well, who knows?” said the farmer, “Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.”

Well, the next day the farmer’s horse returns to his stable, but it has brought along a drove of wild horses it has befriended and who make themselves at home.

The neighbor across the way can’t believe what he hears about his friend. He decides to come over and congratulate him.

“This is such goodness,” he says. “Well, who knows,” said the farmer, “Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.”

The next day the farmer’s son decided to ride one of the new wild horses, to break it in. As luck would have it, the son was thrown from the horse and broke his leg.

Of course, upon hearing this sad news, their neighbor came over to offer condolences. “This is such sad thing,” he said. “Your son has broken his leg. This is bad news.” “Well, who knows,” said the farmer. “Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.”

There were more well wishes and commiseration from his neighbor. The farmer offers this Taoist wisdom, “Who knows what is good and bad?”

On the following day soldiers came by commandeering and army. They took sons from most of the surrounding farms, but because the farmer’s son had a broken leg, he could not go and was spared. And well, maybe it was good news and maybe it wasn’t.

This story could be interpreted many different ways.  At the core, it reminds us of the power of perception.  There are always different sides to every story.  Let us be mindful in our perception of the events occurring around us so that we may continue to be the Light of the world that we are called to be.  Let us remember that “there is no good or evil – it is only thinking that makes it so” (Hamlet).  Keep shining!


Filed in: Inner Peace

About the Author:

I used to live life shackled by fear, doubt, and worry. I put on a happy face while navigating my day-to-day duties, but I was emotionally drained, stressed, and unhappy. When I hit rock bottom, and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was determined to live life differently. I knew there had to be another way. Out of that determination, and guidance from Spirit, the "Living in the Light" blog was born. It documents my spiritual journey out of the darkness and into the Light. After nine months of publicly sharing my journey, and consciously releasing my attachment to the ego, I experienced a powerful spiritual awakening. I went from living in fear, doubt, worry, and stress to complete inner peace. My greatest passion has become assisting others on their own journey to inner peace. My spiritual memoir, From Stress to Peace: An Intimate Journal on the Journey from Living in Darkness to Living in the Light, is available now on Amazon and Click the tabs at the top of the page to learn more about the From Stress to Peace 21-Day Challenge, Living in the Light Retreats, 1:1 sessions, and the Living in the Light Community - all of which are designed to support your journey to inner peace. I appreciate you taking the time to visit the blog and look forward to supporting you in any way I can!