Dear friends and family,
I hope you have all enjoyed the holiday season, whether you spent it alone or with family and friends. I always learn more about myself when there are others around and when I become open to the idea that they are a reflection of me.
For example, I had this realization that nothing has any drama to it unless I give it drama. I'm referring to the drama that is often prevalent in human relationships and interactions. Someone can be acting upset about something, but them being upset is just my inference based on their voice, body language, accumulated judgments, etc.. Our story about what's going on makes that the only reality we can see, but our story is built upon a pile of incorrect assumptions. Assuming basically means that I presume to be you, or momentarily assume your identity, in order to understand you better. I think I know what you think, which is why to assume is to make an Ass out of U and Me.
I realized that one way you can test this theory for yourself is to remove all of the vocal inflections from a person's speech to see what is actually being said, which may be easier to see in an interaction between other people at first. Take a statement like, "You never listen!" spoken very loudly with an accusatory tone. Typically something like that would trigger a bunch of stored up "stuff" (or Pain Body as Eckhart Tolle would say) in us that could make us defensive and possibly retaliatory. Then take that same statement and remove the tone and mannerisms that make you believe this is an attack. What you would be left with is a flat out statement, 'You never listen." That is simply a statement about how the other person feels, and not something that needs to be refuted or taken personally. An exasperated sigh, becomes just a sigh unless I say it means something other than an exhalation of air. An exclamation point (!) becomes a period.
I give all things their meaning. This is why it's been said that when you wake up (become enlightened, etc.) you take everyone else with you. When you wake up you stop believing all of your assumptions about yourself and others, and become open to how things really are before you assign a meaning or add the overlay of a story. I create drama in a situation by adding a story about what's happening, and I become at ease when I interpret things simply as they are, without a story.
As I had this realization, while spending time with some family, I realized that the peace didn't stop with me. That is to say, interactions between other people lost any emotional charge that I would have believed existed before. For example, person A and person B have a history of conflict, and there is typically a heightened sense of anticipation when they are together, in effect there is an expectation of a snide comment to be made.
However, once this realization settled over me, their interactions lost the story I had crafted based on their history. This is why the present moment is where the peace that surpasses all peace can be found. Stories disappear when you drop your attachment to the past because the past is what makes up our beliefs Beliefs are layers of thoughts that filter what we see into a complete fiction that only we can see, which is why no two people hear or see the same thing during a given situation. Each person's story of what's happening is like a snowflake -- totally unique.
Part of what fueled this evolution in my consciousness was the recognition of a false assumption I made. Based on hearing just a snippet of a conversation, I found myself going to the story of, "He must be feeling upset about what's going on right now." How arrogant of me to assume I know how someone else feels based solely on vocal tone and their past. I realized that I had no way of knowing, so I revisited the situation with no interpretation by viewing it from a "monotone" perspective. Then, the self-imagined charge was gone and there was just a conversation between two people who were simply stating things. In short, there is no conflict between other people unless I decide there is.
The ongoing challenge now is to remember this realization during interactions with everyone in every situation. The idea of stripping the vocal tone out of potentially charged conversations seems like a good pointer for me. At least for now. I encourage you to give it a try. It means setting aside your beliefs for a moment, but the result is well worth it.
I always like to remind people that the inventors of the English language inserted hints here and there if we are open enough to notice. For example, the word "believe" has the word lie built in -- be-LIE-ve. There is no such thing as a true belief, but don't take my word for it. It can be messy to determine where our beliefs begin and end, so I recommend The Work of Byron Katie (http://www.thework.com) as one method you can use to help undo the fictitious stories you have separating you from what's really real.
But you don't need The Work to try this out for yourself. Just drop your interpretation of what's happening when it feels like there is tension in the air between yourself or others. Then remember that you are the one creating that tension and that it's all in your mind. There really is no "other" unless and until you create them in your mind's eye, and your mind's eye is always uniquely flawed. This is why spiritual teachers refer to all of this as a dream, and that waking from the dream is what brings peace to a world of chaos. That's not a belief but something that you can see for yourself if you are open enough.
I wish you all a happy and wonderful new present moment, regardless of what the numbers on a calendar say :)