Seeing Beyond Appearances
by Jarek Czechowicz
Reality is one thing, what you think about it is an entirely different matter. If we all saw things as they really are there would be no conflict over individual points of view. Obviously the world is not like that. You see things as you see them, not as others see them. The question is whether you can look beyond appearances, beyond what you see, what you imagine, and what you believe.
Conflict is unavoidable as long as humans believe their beliefs. Inner and outer conflict is an expression of opposing flows of thought, like hot and cold air fronts that manifest as powerful winds. They are difficult to see but their effects are very visible, and can be devastating.
When you wake up to the nature of thought then you can hold the differences presented by thinking without confusion, without inner conflict, without the compulsion to resolve them, and without the need to claim the superior point of view. You might find yourself near a breeze or a hurricane but you know it will pass.
You can say to someone, "I completely understand your point of view. Would you like to try another way of seeing things? Perhaps it will bring you less suffering." Most people will reject the offer preferring to keep their suffering. They will embody the view that reflects their state of mind, their state of consciousness, and then they will justify their choices with clever reasons, even when their choices are obviously causing self-harm. Yet, trying new ways of thinking could be as simple as swapping a recipe.
So much of thinking is automatic and almost mechanical. You ask someone who is suffering, "Have you considered meditation, or chanting, or satsang? Would you like to come and hear some spiritual teachings that might help? "Oh no, I don't like that, it's not for me", they say. They react to negative projections of their own mind, imaginings that have nothing to do with the beautiful activities you propose. It sounds funny, but true, to say to a negative person, "I would avoid that too, if I believed it to be what you believe it to be."
Most thinking is a form of blindness that keeps humans trapped in the prison of the egoic mind, where negative thoughts and experiences repeat themselves over and over in slightly different ways. Some people eventually want to be free and wonder if there could be a way out. They become spiritual seekers with a growing intuitive longing to know reality, but they remain dominated by thinking. Fortunately their gentle inner voice is heard more and more clearly until it finally leads them to peaceful silence.
Truth begins where thought ends. Know yourself to be free beyond the thought forms.
You can observe thought as long as you are not attached to its content. The content of a thought is separated from reality and has no independent existence. Thinking "this is a cloud" is like trying to catch a piece of cloud in a jar. You will never see the cloud by looking in the jar, it doesn't exist there.
Watch this sentence. There are shapes and patterns in it. You also see words, and you can hear this sentence as sounds in your head, but you cannot observe it as a thought form as long as you are caught up in its appearance, or in trying to understand what it means.
Let's return to the personal level. When you like someone, do you really like the person, or do you like your own opinion of them? When you dislike them, is it because the person changes, or because your opinion changes? The reality is that both change within the play of consciousness. Look deeply and see if you are at peace with reality, or whether you are always reacting to nothing more than your own opinion of things.