Welcome to this glorious Thursday, September 26, 2019. How do you want to show up for it? It will never come again!
Roughly six years ago I heard my teacher, John Bruna, say, “the deliciousness is not in the pie.” Reflecting, I see how for many years I underestimated its implications and depth.
I wouldn’t consider myself a baker, but I’ve made (and eaten 😊) quite a few blueberry pies. Thinking about the ingredients, in addition to the blueberries, lemon juice and sugar, not once have I added a cup of delicious, a half-cup of amazing nor a couple table tablespoons of OMG. So just where does the deliciousness reside? In me.
Good and bad, for instance, is defined by one’s subjective experience. If we take a close look at our life, we’ll discover that we associate more with the subjective than the objective.
For a couple minutes, think about what you would tell a friend about a party, a trip to the coast, a skiing experience, a pet, work, a partner or what you had for dinner. How much of what you would say is objectively measurable? Considering a party, you might share that there were ten people, you had three craft beers and you ate chips and dip. All measurable. Nevertheless, what you are likely going to convey is how you felt about it and your experience of the people, beer and chips. Maybe you felt that one person was jerk, maybe one was funny, and maybe the rest were boring? Maybe you felt the beer was bitter and the chips were stale. Maybe you didn’t enjoy yourself. You might say it was a bad party.
Yet, someone else may have enjoyed the party. Maybe they felt the “jerk’ was playful and the “funny” person arrogant. Maybe to this person everyone else was engaging and had a good time. Maybe they loved the beer and chips. From their perspective, it might have been a great party.
No-where in the world can we objectively measure nice, mean, pleasant, annoying, right, wrong, delicious, good, bad, etc. These do not exist outside of our subjective experience. Nevertheless, we tend to try to make them a universal representation of reality.
This last weekend, I had the good fortune to attend an ongoing retreat at the Trappist Abby just north of Lafayette, OR. To me, the place is beautiful, peaceful and welcoming! One of the teachers, Jerry Brazza, told us a remarkable story. He relayed that it’s quite rare for a Catholic monastery to have a dedicated meditation hall – zendo. Brazza went on to share that during WWII, a group of Japanese prisoners were being transported on a naval vessel. While traveling on the open seas, one of the prisoners taught his guard how to meditate. The guard later became the venerable Abbot of the Trappist Abby. Having found value in his contemplative practice, he had the meditation hall constructed. Many people, including myself, have benefited from something that could be described as tragic. Was it good that the Japanese were captured? Was it bad? Is the meditation hall a bad thing as it materialized out of an oppressive situation? Each of us will likely have an opinion. Who’s right? Who’s wrong?
In thinking about the true nature of my opinions, I’m shocked at how many discussions, arguments and disagreements I’ve had trying to convince others that I’m right and they’re wrong. Sometimes I still go down that road. I’m a work in progress! Regardless, most all the facts I bring to a discussion are nothing more than my interpretation of the “facts.” And, even quantifiable facts can be manipulated to favor one side depending on how you feel about it.
Please understand that I’m in no way suggesting that there are not harmful and helpful things happening in the world. What I’m ham-handedly trying to communicate is that much of what we believe to be true is in fact only a matter of perspective - opinion.
Where one is raised, how one is raised, what schools they attended, how much money they did or didn’t have, what religion, gender, race and age they are, the status of their physical, mental and emotional health, plus many more factors, all contribute to one’s truth – reality. The more of life’s iterations I experience, I become more convinced that no-one’s reality is any more or less valid than another’s.
I’m learning meow that I don’t know much at all. My truths are disintegrating before me. Much of what I believed to be true and accurate were nothing more than ego-driven delusions founded on my felt experience. The more conversations I have with my cheerfully disagreeable brother-in-law and playfully cantankerous Facebook friends, I realize how incredibly fruitless they are and painfully destructive debating opinions can be to a relationship. Despite what our compelling thoughts and beliefs try to convince us, never do we debate anything that is inherently (of its own) good nor bad.
We need each other. We need different perspectives. This is how we learn and grow! I’ve come to believe that it is much more useful for me and more beneficial to the collective if I stop trying to point out where I feel others are wrong and challenge my own thinking. “What can I learn?” “How can I think about things differently?” These questions are worth exploring.
I love you (and blueberry pie) and there isn’t anything you can do about it!