Seeking a better view

Posted 03.10.15

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Some Asian cultures use the expression, "The Ten Thousand Things", to refer to the world or everything that presses in on us day after day. I found a nice line of poetry about this concept:

As I look into the mirror
of the Ten Thousand Things,
I see looking back at me, myself.

Some one might object that "the world" is not a literal mirror, it's the millions of scattered things surrounding us; I reply that we can find a mirror in anything and, further, the more often we see ourselves reflected in what's around us and in the decisions we've made during our life, the easier will come our maturity.

All of us, we expect so little of ourselves. We're here on this incredible world -- to get a sun tan. Apparently. In general terms, that's a common ambition. We want to make it through each day, reach our modest goals each year, and we remain uncurious about the massive and overwhelming universe around us which is, apparently, streaming away from us constantly, constantly expanding.

Expecting more of ourselves might require a different point of view, a different range or scale of view (as in "long-range", or "short-range"). We're stuck, comfortably so, in one range of view. We rarely try for more, for a different range or point of view, right?

We could access or create a different range of view by imagining our world but from a different set of eyes, a different vantage point -- how do we appear to ants? To our pets, to tribal people from the hills of Laos? How might we appear to a visitor from another world?

Such speculations eventually lead us to see ourselves in a different light; that might give us the material to re-fashion our lives and ambitions. But without this sort of curiosity, and taking the time to follow our curiosity, we appear, and stay, in the great big mirror of the Ten Thousand Things only as our ordinary selves.

Curiosity is essential, curiosity about what else is in that mirror, and a curiosity about how we and our actions appear there -- not about the image we impose of ourselves onto the screen of the world, but curiosity to see what is there besides what we came wishing to find in that mirror.

Do we appear only as daily selves, and always this way?

In a crisis or an emotional meltdown we see differently, and such crisis may be very useful for providing this rare insight. But our day-to-day imaging of ourselves comes from holding our eyes tight -- tightly closed or tightly open, always tight. We see, because we wish to, ourselves with our eyes tight as in prayer, not tight from confusion. This is one of our uses of prayer, both informal and formal prayer.

Do we pray so often, in this vision of ourselves, because we expect so little of ourselves? I think so.


Copyright © 2016 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/03.16