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Complementary Corner

What do you "See?"

Renee Lehman

(5/2) Have you ever gone for a walk with a friend on the Gettysburg battlefield and stopped to look at a monument? In discussion about this monument, have you ever noticed a difference in what you both are "seeing?" How many times have you heard interviews of witnesses to a crime where the witnesses describe the situation differently? How can this be true? People are seeing the same object or event. The fact is that "We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are." (Talmudic origin)

As C.S. Lewis once wrote: "What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are." And, as Robertson Davies wrote: "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."

The MIND that is being spoken of is not just the mind that you think with or process information with. This MIND is, from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, the rational Mind. The rational Mind is behind much of what we "see" because it has desires and intentions. It creates thoughts (through our beliefs) which then create our emotions.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines Belief as a conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence. Our beliefs are usually deeply rooted in our culture and upbringing. Our beliefs can also be narrowly focused, based on our life experiences. And a belief, just because it has been handed down to us from our elders, is not necessarily true even though we think it is. Or more noticeably, a belief is not necessarily the only truth. Changing our minds means changing at least some aspect of our beliefs. And, changing our beliefs means changing our minds!

Each one of us needs to realize that we see things as we are! So, when something happens that creates upset in you or the world, can you move from where you are "standing" and "see" things differently? My Qigong mentor, Nan Lu, OMD, uses a great analogy to demonstrate moving from where you are "standing" to "see" things differently.

Imagine that you are on the first floor of a seven story building. Outside on the sidewalk is an object. Because you are level with the object on the sidewalk, you describe it using specific characteristics. Now, you move to the third floor of the building. You have changed your perspective of the object, and see it differently. It’s the same object from a different perspective, different description. You could even be on the west side of the building, on the fifth floor, and not even see the object on the sidewalk (the object is on the east side of the building)! What a difference your "position" makes in viewing the object! The goal is to get to the roof of the building, so that you could walk all around the building and see the object from many vantage points.

This, from a TCM perspective, is like viewing things from the highest level, the spiritual level (on a body-mind-spirit continuum). On a spiritual level, everything happens for a reason, and everything happens for good. Can you see the good? As Wayne Dyer stated, "Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change."

The second part of the C.S. Lewis quote written above deals with the idea that how you perceive the world is related to what kind of person you are, not only from where you are "standing." Do you realize that there is "good" and "evil" within each one of us? Do you realize that what agitates us about someone else is actually a "shadow" within ourselves? That’s why it bothers us.

This wonderful Native American wisdom story demonstrates that there is the possibility to develop "good" and "evil" characteristics within each of us.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,

"Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Which Wolf Are You Feeding? We Always Have A Choice…

We always have a choice! We don’t like to think that a negative characteristic could actually be within us – that would be unacceptable! However, as C.G. Jung stated, "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."

When you take the time to understand how you think, how you feel, what your beliefs are, and if they need to be changed, you will change yourself. You will change how you think, how you feel, and change the actions you take in the world. You will then change your world, and the world around you will change. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." He also stated, "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves."

The problem with changing the world around you without changing your inner world, is that you will still have your negative and self-sabotaging tendencies still intact. So, even in this new situation, you will not find what you hoped for! As Nan Lu, OMD has stated "Don’t buy new shoes to walk the same old path. Walk a new path. A path arising from inner growth."

Renee Lehman is a licensed acupuncturist and physical therapist with over 25 years of health care experience. Her office is located at 249B York Street in Gettysburg, PA. She can be reached at 717-752-5728.

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