Posted by: powerofperspective | March 30, 2010


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The Context: The Modern World and the Battle of Ideas
We live in an age today where information and perspectives from other people are all around us.
Whether it is which political party to support, which products to buy, or what religion or self-help guru to follow or not, the battle of ideas and choices is everywhere.
Our decisions and the factors which affect them are poured over by marketing and political professionals, who then make very calculated efforts to influence these decisions.
It is no exaggeration that we all find ourselves today in the midst of a raging battle of ideas.
This may have always been the case, but clearly the intensity of the quantity and invasiveness of information around us has radically increased in our own living memories.
The pressure that this is putting on us is also clear. Where in our modern lives do we find the time to really reflect and contemplate our lives? While checking the email? On the mobile? Driving home from work? Watching TV?
Certainly most people do find some moments of spacious contemplation in their weeks, and perhaps somewhat more a few times a year, on holiday from their ordinary lives.
Some people find more time than this by the way they choose to live and the value they place on spaciousness in their lives.
But there are not many in my experience who would say that they don’t feel the increased pressure of this modern way of living.

Our Own Philosophy of Life
Within this social context of the great pressure of ideas and information, we are left to try to individually make sense of the numerous perspectives we are offered on all manner of subjects.
Perhaps the most fundamental subject on the curriculum of being human is our philosophy of life. What is all this about? How should we live? What are the most important things to us?
On this subject as much as any other you will certainly find many many perspectives offered by others, from religions to friends, to magazines, TV programmes, books, institutions, scientists and philosophers.
The fundamental point to me is this. That our philosophy of life is our own. It is our responsibility and no one can find it for us.
Our own perspective must be forged from a synthesis of what we have learned and experienced in this life, from our own unique experience.

Learning Machines
The good news is this: that this is what we humans do.
None of us would have survived to adulthood and be able to access this website and read this page without the phenomenal learning mechanisms that we were all born with.
In fact, learning about the world is almost the nature of human life.
And everything we have learned has actually been based on our own experience.
For example, much as parents might like to directly transmit the understanding of language, the best they can do is create favourable circumstances for that child, such as saying words repeatedly to us.
But the work that the infant puts into achieving understanding is immense and is all our own.
But why does the child put so much effort into unlocking the mysteries of language?
Surely the answer must be that the desire to understand the world around us is one of the deepest drives we have.

Reclaiming Your Perspective
Each of us has a unique perspective on the world which is immensely valuable.
And really, this experience is the bottom line of our reality.
If we simply followed every idea we heard or came across in our lives from other people, we would surely become insane very quickly…
So what else to base our understanding on than our own experience, thinking, feeling and intuition? There is nothing else.

Other People, Other Ideas
Obviously a significant part of the world we experience is other people. And other people are constantly delivering new and different ideas to us.
And there is certainly nothing wrong with this. Indeed, it seems to be an essential aspect of living as an individual as part of a larger group.
A very important part of our own worldview and perspective is the ideas we get from other people in one form or another. And there is no doubt that thinking and ideas from others, and also disagreement, all add to the richness of the experience we draw on, resulting in a more satisfying understanding of reality.
The point however remains that it is up to piece together the jigsaw of information before us for ourselves.
No one else can do this for us, and it works against us to let them try. But they will try!

Support – No One is an Island
The best help I believe that others can be to us is to support our own process of coming to terms with and understanding life. Empathy and support are really the most profound gifts we can give or receive. This is one of the big reasons I am a professional coach!

The Hitler Disclaimer
One question that may pop up as you consider these ideas is the Hitler effect.
In other words, what about people who commit acts of “evil”, murder and hurt others?
Is their perspective valuable?
My answer is that yes it is, but that there are other aspects of our interaction which have to also be looked at around our own sense of right and wrong and boundaries.
Certainly philosophies of embracing one and all with love often fall short in this area and many have reasonably argued that they leave the door open to abuse by those with darker motives.
I am well aware of this danger, and will speak more about boundaries, morality and how we choose to act in the world in a later instalment.

The critical aspect is this: that central in our pursuit of truth and understanding stands the skill of discernment.
Without sharpening this tool, we are, in the modern world more than ever, drowning in a sea of perspectives, opinions and information.
Discernment relies on testing whatever ideas you receive against your own experience and thinking things through for yourself.
Just because I or anyone else says something, doesn’t make it true unless it fits for you.
It is my hope that you receive my writings here as the thoughts of an individual, and that they can spark off the true knowing and insight which already lives in you.

Sharpening the Tool
A lot of the rest of my writings here will be focused around different facets of the skill of discernment.
However, as a beginning, some of the key ideas I will be presenting are the following:

  • The radical powers of Acceptance & Self-connection – being able to see what already is and deeply know ourselves
  • The power of Choice – understanding our own motivations and needs as active agents in the world, and also looking at morality in choices and ideas of right and wrong
  • Who are We? – what are the deeper layers of us? where is life heading? what are our deepest motivations? what is enlightenment? presenting a very hopeful perspective on humanity.
  • What do we Want? : Co-creation – from looking at the hopefulness of our human situation, we come to the question of what we really want to create. also presenting ideas on how we can achieve what we want to.
  • Utopia – visioning a new world

To be continued…

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