Once there was a holy man who traveled between villages in his home country. He was very wise and stories of his great teachings had spread across the land. Hundreds of people followed him wherever he went to listen to his teachings. One day he came to a new village, and many people gathered in the Village Square to greet him. Suddenly a very angry peasant came up to him and began to verbally assault him. He said he was a fake and that he was misleading people telling them lies and using them for his own greedy purposes. He went on and on and on, using every foul language in the book, red in the face and spitting as he ranted. The holy man just waited until the man had totally exhausted himself and stopped talking. Then in a deep and calm voice he asked him the following question. “If someone offers you a gift but you don’t accept it, whose gift is it?” The man was completely taken aback, but blurted out that the giver most certainly still owned the gift. The holy man then said “I don’t want your gift of offensive accusations, you can keep them to yourself” and he walked quietly away from the stunned man.
If somebody walked up to you on the street and offered to sell you heroin, what would you do? You would probably say no. You know what’s not good for you and you make a decision not to accept it, and walk away.
Its easy to refuse a physical gift like that, but how can you not feel bad about something like verbal abuse, getting fired from a job, or losing a friend? How do you keep negative influences from bringing you down? Unpleasant things change into pleasant ones, and pleasant things into unpleasant ones all the time. A man got fired from his job, it was a very unpleasant experience for him because his boss insulted him in front of his coworkers. He got angry and resentful. But a few days later he got a new job that he had always wanted, and it paid more and had better benefits. If he hadn’t gotten fired that opportunity would have past him by. How does he feel now? He’s glad he was fired. The next time he met his former boss he thanked him for firing him. An unpleasant thing was changed into a pleasant one. Pleasant experiences also change into unpleasant ones all the time.
Good taste, bad Mind
I remember an incident that happened when I was a child where a foreign family was invited to dinner at an Icelandic household. They were served steak in a traditional Icelandic way which they found delicious. After a few days the two men were talking and the conversation drifted towards the dinner they had had a few days earlier. The foreign man said it was one of the best steaks he had ever had. And he asked if it was from a young calf or a bull. And the Icelandic man looked at him in surprise and said, “no it was horse meat. “The foreign mans face suddenly turned into a red, contorted horror mask, his body started convulsing and he bolted for the toilet where he started to vomit. It turned out that the foreign family was involved with a religion that prohibited eating horsemeat. He had thought it was a bull or calfmeat, which his religion allowed eating. And the Icelandic family didn’t know any better. I remember thinking as a child that it was funny because the man had long since cleaned his bowels of the horsemeat and he was trying to puke something entirely else.
Do you remember the first time you smoked a cigarette, or the first time you tasted strong alcohol, or the first time you tasted an olive? It was bad, wasn’t it? But you learned to like it because it was the “IN” thing to do. You changed an unpleasant automatic internal reaction into a pleasant one. So why wouldn’t you be able to change your reaction to another person? All personal habits, responses, reactions and perceptions are subject to change. They can change slowly over the years with new learnings and experiences or they can happen very fast like if a stranger held a loaded Smith & Wesson up to your head and told you not to smoke. You’d drop the coffin nail in a flash. Instant change.
Sensation and Perception
A sensation and a perception are not the same thing. Sensation is a kinesthetic feeling, perception is a thought resulting from that feeling. Perception interprets the report of sensation, and translates it into a thought, or idea. Sensation is when something goes into the mind, and a perception is what the mind does with it. Lets say you go into a room, and you smell something pleasant. That is a sensation. You see a bunch of flowers on a table, and you instantly know that the smell comes from them. That is perception.
Previous experience and training determines how deeply and fully you perceive something. For example, a gun is fired at a distance. One man who is busy fixing his car fails to have his attention aroused so he doesn’t perceive it and is totally ignorant of its happening. The second man has his attention aroused and registers a simple perception of the impression, but having had no experience with guns or explosions, he doesn’t fully interpret the sensation into perception, he perceives “noise” but not “from a gun.” The third man, having had experience with guns, interprets the sensation into the perception “from a gun.” The fourth man, having a lot of experience with gun firing, and being somewhat an expert on the subject, interprets the sensation so fully that he perceives and knows it to be not only “from a gun” but also whether it was a shotgun, pistol or a rifle, and possibly the size and caliber of the gun. And yet the sensation of sound was precisely the same in each and every case. All your mental powers are called into play in the act of perception. Your memory plays an important part in interpreting the impression, for all experience and training is stored in your memory and is activated when you engage in perceiving. Your reasoning, discrimination and judgment are also called into play when you determine “just what” the impression may be.
Is it Vulgar or Exciting
Think about the word “intercourse.” Maybe you perceive the word “intercourse” as rude, vulgar and inappropriate in this article. Maybe it activates a host of emotions, anger, disgust, shame or some other emotion. But then again maybe you have a totally different experience of the word and perceive it as fun and refreshing, activating feelings of aliveness, humor and excitement. Its just your perception. Its just a word, and what you do with it is what matters. Your concrete mind records the word, with its grammar, letters and structure, the abstract mind assigns the meaning to it. Shocking, funny, inappropriate or refreshing. Concrete experiences in themselves don’t mean anything, perception gives them meaning.
If the mind can automatically take the same sensation or memory and make you either angry, sad, happy or numb, depending on how the sensation or memory is perceived, doesn’t it follow that if you control your perception you can make yourself feel whatever you like.
Here’s an example. In the course of a conversation your friend suddenly gets angry out of the blue and lashes out at you with unfair and untrue accusations, leaving you hurt and angry. Then later somebody tells you that he got fired from his job and his wife left him, that same day, which you didn’t know. This changes your perception of the whole affair, doesn’t it? You see your friends anger in a new light, now you understand why he did what he did, and he really didn’t mean it, he was just having a bad day, and your perception of the same event has changed. Now you don’t feel bad about it, you feel you want to talk to him, sort things out between the two of you, and maybe help him in some way. By changing your perception, you changed it from being unpleasant into pleasant. The memory didn’t change, how you perceived the memory changed.
Control your perception and you control your problems. Education, experience and learning change our perception. You can change your perception directly without the time consuming medium of education, long term experience or learning. You experience something, that you would usually perceive as “bad”, but you decide to perceive it as “funny”, so you laugh a lot and feel happy. What usually makes you feel negative emotions can be changed in the same way. Decide to perceive it in a new way and your feelings will follow. Does this mean that you do not perceive the world like it is? What you are doing is that you are overriding the fixed preconceptions and judgments about the world that you picked up from your caretakers, and perceiving the world deliberately like you want to, not the way they would do. Why would you want to suffer unnecessarily by being a victim of someone else’s beliefs?
Imagine drawing a circle on a blank piece of paper. What can you make of it? It can be perceived as a circle, a hole, a dot, a ring, the end of a tube, a zero, the letter O, the earth or a snake biting its tail. You are controlling your perception. Think of a man that dies. What can you make of it? A good thing because he was a criminal, a bad thing because he left his children without a provider, a good thing because he had such a miserable life that he was probably glad himself to depart, a bad thing because he should have been punished for his crimes. Make up your own perception and feel appropriately. Change your response to the same event in any number of ways by controlling your perception. Think of being afraid of something. What can you make of it? You can perceive it as excitement, as danger, as “I’ll make a fool of myself,” or as “I’m growing.” Does this make sense? Do you understand how perception determines how you react and feel? Can you see the benefits of being able to control it with ease?
Perception determines how you experience the world, but the map is not the territory, the menu is not the food. Nobody sees the world in the same way. The media thinks its perception of the world is the right one. A lot of people agree with their interpretation. There is no right perception of the world, its a personal thing and if you perceive the world as a hostile place you can change your perception and perceive it as a benevolent place. The world hasn’t changed, your perception has. But then again maybe you make your own decisions about the world, maybe you perceive the world as a good place. Maybe you live a good life with no worry or fear and little doubt. Maybe you don’t have so many problems, you probably take good care of yourself. Maybe you are content with your life, a happy person. But then again maybe there’s something that you’ve overlooked.
What you don’t know
There was a traveling man going from town to town, he wasn’t a holy man just a man who traveled and worked odd jobs here and there. When he came into this one town he couldn’t help but notice the stench and putrid smell of animal shit hanging in the air. He noticed that the town had two chicken breeding factories and one pig breeding factory. Is it any wonder this town stinks, he thought to himself. He noticed a lad running with two buckets of water between the two hen houses and he called to him, asking him to come over. When the boy arrived he asked him “How can you live in such a stench.”
The boy looked at him kind of strangely, thinking this was one of those weirdoes that came into town once in a while, and said.
“What stench? I don’t smell any stench.”
He really meant it, he didn’t smell anything out of the ordinary.
“You don’t smell the stink, the shitty smell?”
“No I don’t!”
And he proceeded to walk away. The man grabbed him by his arm.
“Tell me lad for how long have you lived here?”
“All my life.”
“And have you never been up in the mountains, have you never been down to the seashore?”
“No I haven’t. In fact I’ve never been out of this town. Ever since I can remember I have always been here to help my father and mother take care of the chickens and there’s no time for such idle nonsense as running about while there’s work to do. When I’m not working I stay in my own room in the loft of one of the chicken houses.”
My God thought the traveler.
“Young lad, you have to come with me right now, I am going to show you something you will never forget.”
He took him under the arm and almost dragged him away from the town. He took him up the mountain and all the way to the top where he could smell real fresh air without any traces of stench for the first time in his life. He had him smell the flowers and the trees and the grass. After a while he took him back, and when they entered the town the boy could smell the filthy stench for the first time in his life.
“Oh my God, what a stench. And I have been living in this putrid smell all my life without knowing it.”
What don’t you know
When you haven’t traveled very far beyond the boundaries of your beliefs and values you don’t know how good you can have it, and you don’t know how bad you have it either. The prison of your beliefs and values keep you locked inside the world you know and are familiar with. There’s a word in Icelandic that describes this condition very appropriately. Its the word “Heimskur” which basically means dumb. But the origin of the word, its conception, is from the situation where someone has never left their home, it literally means “always having been at home.” When you make the decision to go beyond the boundaries of what you know you at first have to rely on faith and trust, there is always a little risk involved but soon enough you start to see the infinite possibilities that are every human beings inheritance. If you don’t think you have enough faith and trust just imagine how much trust and faith you had when you were born into this extremely harsh world as a totally helpless little baby within such a vulnerable and fragile body. That is a faith that can move mountains, and you have already demonstrated it.
Change of Perception
Maybe there is a higher level of perception available to you. Maybe there is a way to perceive “good life” as “great life” or even as “ecstatic life.” Maybe you can control your perception to the degree that you can perceive your normal day to day routine awareness as enlightenment. Isn’t that what the saints and mystics do? Maybe they just discovered how to control their perception. Enlightened people often say “I meditated and meditated for years, trying to reach enlightenment, and then when I reached enlightenment I discovered that I had been there all the time. I hadn’t changed at all, I was exactly the same before and after enlightenment.” Well, both you and I know that something must have changed, and maybe that was their perception. That’s why you can find an enlightened person working in a grocery store, it might be your next door neighbor or the postal clerk. Because when you have reached this state it doesn’t matter where you are or what you do. You have gone beyond that, you are no longer bound by those measurements. You have found what you were looking for and there’s no longer any need to seek or look for anything.
If you want to experience the boundless freedom in going beyond your normal perception of the world, YOU CAN. But the mind is on automatic, like a machine that doesn’t have a stop switch. It goes on and on and on and on and never seems to stop. Its automatic perception of the world is what creates problems, difficulties and limitations. And people have no idea why it happens, it just happens and there seems to be no way of controlling it in a healthy way. It seems that people are not so much thinking their thoughts as much as their thoughts are thinking them. And even though people wish they could change it they can’t because they don’t control their thoughts or minds. There is a neglected power hidden deep within you, beyond your mind, but to get to this power you have to go through your mind, through your unconscious. This power is your WILL, and you can use it, not only to turn your mind off and on, or eliminate problems, difficulties, limitations, fears, worries and doubts in a healthy way, but you will also discover that it enables you to do things that you haven’t even dreamed were possible.
A powerful Will gives you control of perception. When you have reached that state you always have a choice. You always come out on top, you always win in any situation, because you determine your perception. You play with words instead of letting words play with you. You can find many examples of this in daily life. Successful business people, gurus, saints, larger than life individuals and almost anyone who is a self made man who has had to work persistently for years and years against formidable obstacles to reach his goals. They have created their own world so to speak, and have mastered their mind and perception. You will never catch such a person off guard, they will always have a ready answer for anything. They make themselves feel happy by controlling their perception. Their purpose is to be on top of their life, not on the bottom of somebody else’s life. So why not try it out, to see what you can make of it? Maybe you can figure out a way to reach enlightenment, maybe you can discover a way to perceive your problems in a new way that empowers you beyond measure.
Act or React
But maybe you don’t want to take responsibility of choosing your own life. Maybe you would rather have someone else do it for you. This information really doesn’t make your life any better, not without action, no information does. Try reading any book through and see if your life is any better for it without acting on the information. Its the same with life. Life doesn’t teach you anything, it gives you the opportunity to learn. Give a beggar some fish and he is fed for a day, teach him how to fish and he is fed for a lifetime. Giving you some food in the form of new beliefs and ideas would feed you for a couple of weeks or months and might make your life better, but learn to use the principles and practice the techniques and you will be content forever. Beliefs are but temporary solutions to the world’s problems. They fade away and become obsolete as the world evolves and changes. And the people who hang on to their outdated beliefs become their own prisoners. So if you are looking for a new belief system to hang on to this information will only serve you temporarily. You will have a better understanding and more awareness of how your mind works and as a result your life may get better. But if you are willing to take responsibility for yourself and your life; if you are ready to step into the world of personal power; to choose your own reality; to create your own personal world. You will soon discover not only the power of mind over matter, but the power of will over mind.
There’s a Will inside and…
Once upon a time there was a little boy in an Italian village. He was playing outside in the hot sun when he noticed a noise coming from a nearby garden. He ran up to the high rock wall that surrounded the garden and climbed to the top. From where he sat he saw a man, drenched in sweat, covered in gray dust, working passionately at hammering and chiseling away on a huge boulder. He observed him for a while, unnoticed by the man, wandering what he was doing. Suddenly he called out to him “Hello there, why are you hammering that big rock?” The man turned slowly towards the boy, squinting a little as he looked up towards the sun. The boy recognized the man, it was the famous artist everyone was talking about, Michelangelo. He smiled at the boy and said, “There’s an angel inside the rock, and I’m setting him free.”