There is a story about a Zen master walking along a road and meeting a traveller going in the opposite direction. The traveller hailed the Zen master, and asked what life was like in the town he was headed toward, the one the Zen master had just left. The Zen master asked the traveller what life was like in the town the traveller had just come from. The traveller replied that people were irritable and mean, and not particularly honest. The Zen master told the traveller he was likely to find the same thing and the same kind of people in the town he was headed toward.
A bit further along the road, the Zen master met another traveller going in the opposite direction, and he had the same question as the previous traveller. When the Zen master asked this one what life was like in the town this traveller had just come from, the traveller replied that people had been open and friendly, always helpful and acting with integrity. The Zen master told this traveller he was likely to find the same thing and the same kind of people in the town he was headed toward.
Both travellers were headed for the same town, but a different field of energy—a different perceptual filter—surrounded each of them. Each was attracting a particular quality of experience determined by their particular energy field.
Our very own bubble
Each of us is surrounded by a bubble, which is the filter to our perceptions. All our perceptions must pass through this bubble, which filters and selects only the information we have decided is relevant to us at that time. The bubble is necessary, since we are surrounded with so much information coming in: what everyone is wearing, each person’s face, all of the details of our environment, the number of leaves on a tree, the temperature, the dimensions of each cloud in the sky, all of the sounds we hear, and so on. If we had no selection process, we would experience chaos, as though we were watching a television set with all of the channels playing simultaneously.
It’s like all of the information available in a computer. It’s not all necessary or useful at one time, but as long as it’s in the computer, we can access it when we need it. So, all of the information coming in doesn’t need to register in our conscious awareness. It passes through the bubble unnoticed, yet is accessible when it’s needed, either through conscious recall, or techniques such as hypnosis and regression.
If we imagine that each bubble is, for example, a particular colour, we can say that someone is seeing the world through a red bubble, or a blue bubble, and so on.
Of course, through a red bubble, the world looks red, and through a blue bubble, the world looks blue. In actuality, the world may be neither red nor blue, but perhaps black and white. Imagine someone in a blue bubble and someone in a red bubble discussing the colour of the world. Each would be certain they were right—and in fact, they would be right from their point of view, seen through their bubble. Each would be accurately reporting their perspective.
We could say that they would both be right. We could also say that neither was right, in terms of the absolute reality that each was seeing through their respective filters. We could, however, say that each was accurately reporting their experience, and then we could get a sense of the bubble through which each was seeing.
We could say that each bubble is a product of that person’s consciousness, and that the inside of each bubble is a mirror, so that people do not necessarily see the world the way it is, but rather they see it the way they are. Each person who is at the effect of their perceptions projects on to their view of the world their own intentions, and their own values.
In a way, the world is full of people walking around, talking to themselves—but only some of them are listening
Both views are important
When people judge others, they are in effect saying that if they were that person, they would be doing something wrong. They would be measuring the other person by their own standards, and perhaps, also measuring themselves by the standards of others. The view might be quite different when the other person’s intentions, values, and reasons are known.
When others measure you by their standards, for example, deciding that you’re wrong about something, they are projecting their intentions onto you. When you are able to communicate your intentions, often their judgements disappear. They are given the view from inside your bubble.
In any interaction it would be useful to have both views—the view from the inside looking out, and the view from the outside looking in. Both views are important, and having both views gives a more complete picture for intelligent decisions.
Perhaps you know people of whom you would say, “If only they followed their own advice.” We could see, then, that they were seeing reflections of themselves projected onto those around them.
Perhaps you, too, may have noticed yourself giving the same excellent advice to several people. Would that excellent advice be useful for you to follow, as well?
We could say that we attract to ourselves people to bring out from us information we need to hear ourselves. In a way, the world is full of people walking around, talking to themselves—but only some of them are listening. After you realise this, you continue to talk to yourself, but now you can also listen. You can ask yourself whether this information coming from you is useful for you—and then follow your own advice. You could also see people who are giving you advice as talking to themselves, and giving themselves excellent advice. Only they would know, though, whether they were listening as well.
Listen to yourself
You can tell when your advice is meant for you if you are more interested in saying it than the other person is in hearing it. The words want to come out for you to hear. It works the other way, as well, when someone is more interested in giving you advice than you are in hearing it. It could be meant for them. When both people are interested in the communication, it flows. Otherwise, just notice your perceptions, and if you were to offer advice, notice what it would be. Inwardly, thank this other person for the favour they have done you on your path to clarity. You may then notice your view of that person change, since your perceptions of the past had served their purposes and disappeared, so you could now see that person in the present.
Being aware of your own bubble enables you to know yourself and what you are experiencing in your life. When you notice that you are projecting your own thoughts and feelings onto others, you can decide to take a fresh look. You can then go ‘Through the Looking-glass,’ and see other people’s realities.
At levels of perception that most people experience, the mirroring process is not conscious, and so the people are at the effect of their perceptions. There is a level of perception at which these processes become conscious and direct experiences, and that is at the level of the heart, seen through the bubble of unconditional love, of acceptance. With a direct view of others as yourself, there is compassion, understanding, and wisdom, and you find yourself talking to these people as though they were you, speaking with them in a way that you would like to be spoken to.
When you find yourself judging, you can be aware of it and use the awareness to raise the level of your perceptions to that of acceptance. The effect then is a release of tensions from your consciousness.
When you think of someone and feel resistance towards him or her, think of the quality of that person you feel the resistance about. What words would you use to describe that person? Ask yourself whether those words could be used to describe you, whether you can remember a time when you could have been described with those words, perhaps by someone who was not aware of the motives behind your actions and words.
Realise that this other person may have exactly the same motives and you will sense a recognition and compassion for them. You will see them as yourself. It will be a new perception, and you could use that new perception as a basis for communication. Where before there was a wall between you, now there is an open door, a channel for communication. You could offer them the advice you would have appreciated getting. You could talk to them in the same way you would like to have been spoken to.
You can also recognise a person’s characteristics without feeling resistance. The resistance tells you something about yourself. If you see the characteristic without resistance, without judging what the other person should do differently, you can decide what you need to do. For example, if someone is a thief, you can see it and do what is necessary to not have something stolen from you. You do not, however, need to be upset about their being a thief. You don’t need to carry around resistance about that. They may, in fact, be a lovable thief, and perhaps even easier to love at a distance.
You will see more and more that you can be your own Master, trusting more and more your own perceptions
You are your own master
As you continue to remove resistance from your perceptions, you will be changing the nature of your bubble. You will see more and more that your consciousness has the means to answer all your questions, and give you all the guidance you need.
You will see more and more that you can be your own authority, your own guide, your own guru, your own Master, trusting more and more your own perceptions. You will more and more be able to own your clarity.
During the transformation process, you will be changing the nature of your bubble. This can be a gradual process over a period of time, or there can be a finite moment of change.
When the process of change happens in a particular moment, it can be experienced in one of two ways. There can be the experience of the old bubble suddenly ‘popping,’ sometimes with a rush of energy, exposing the new bubble. This may be experienced in much the same way as if waking from a dream, and suddenly seeing what is true in waking reality.
The second way the moment of change can be experienced is as if moving from one bubble to another, as if two bubbles—like soap bubbles—were touching each other and sharing a common membrane. Then, the point of consciousness [which is what you are] moves from the centre of one bubble, through the membrane, into the second. Each bubble is a paradigm—a set of all things perceived, a reality, a certain way in which things make sense.
The movement is first experienced by the point of consciousness, as things no longer make sense in the old way. Of course, for things to make sense in a new way they must no longer make sense in the old way. In the narrow slice of time that the membrane represents, the individual might experience this as confusion in their perceptions, chaos, a lack of meaning. The individual must then not look backward at the way things used to make sense, but rather allow the meaninglessness, as movement goes through the membrane between the two bubbles. If you experience this, you can then know that it’s just the curtain, the transition, and that its presence implies the process of rebirth into the new paradigm, the new bubble, the new reality.
Birth of a new reality
A new meaning then emerges. Sense emerges from the chaos as movement continues into the new bubble. Attention is best maintained in the present, looking toward the future, watching the emerging process, the rebirth. [Read Strive to stay in the now above] The process becomes one of discovery and delight with the new paradigm, seeing how things are in fact different in a way that the individual recognises as better.
Something else happens as well. You will discover that your bubble was not only a perceptual filter, but also a kind of selective magnet, attracting a certain kind of experience to you, and also a certain quality of people.
With the change in your bubble, the selectivity of the magnet changes as well, and you notice a different kind of experience being attracted to you, and a different quality of people. This is the direct result of the shift in your perceptions. Remember that your perceptions create your reality, as your perceptions change, your basic beliefs change as well and as you change your basic beliefs, your perceptions change accordingly.
In accord with these changes, events in the outer world change as well, and a totally different story unfolds around you. It’s as though you have become a totally different character, in a totally different movie. Not only has the view from inside the bubble looking outward become different, but also the view from outside the bubble looking inward, and in fact, also the environment of the bubble. If the bubble was in a glass of beer, now it is in a glass of champagne, or what was flavoured soda becomes sparkling water.
For you, the reader, these descriptions may seem a bit abstract at first, but when the process begins for you, you will recognise what is happening. As you re-read this article later, the words will connect more with your experience, and you will know that what is happening for you is what you have waited for and wanted. You can then watch your process of rebirth with a sense of stability—and clarity.
Strive to stay in the now
Fear lives in the future only. It is faith in a negative future. As you energise your fears by thinking about them and talking about them, you energise a future you really don’t want, and by focussing on the negative future, you keep yourself from living in the present moment and enjoying what you do have. You can decide instead to energise only a positive future by thinking about that, and then release it, and redirect your attention to the present moment, to what is happening around you now.
Guilt lives only in the past. It is faith in a negative past, where you believe you did something wrong, and the pre-occupation about that also keeps you from experiencing the now. Learn from the past, decide what you will do differently in the future, and then release the past. You have learned what you were supposed to from the experience in the evolution of your soul, on your path to clarity. Direct your attention to the present, and live it—now.
When you live within the present moment, you may realise that it’s not necessary to sacrifice the present moment for the future. How many times, when you’re having a really good time, have you decided to stop because of what you have to do the next day? How many of the things you do today are things you don’t enjoy for their own sake, but rather for the effects they may bring in the future?
When you live in the present moment, your actions are done because that’s what you really want to do. You can then be totally present with what you are doing. You can be real, and not pretend to enjoy something you really don’t like.
When you live in the present moment, you are not caught in the illusions of past and future. You are not led into situations by promises of how good it’s going to be. You’re able to focus your attention on the present, how it feels now, and what your instinct’s are saying about what is happening now.
Your instincts tell you what you need to know now, about what you are doing now. After all, your life is just a series of present moments of experience, just a sequence of ‘NOW’s.’ You can learn to trust the present moment more and more, to live more and more in the now, where your vision is clearest.
Examine your average day, and notice how many of your experiences are investments in time for the future. How many people actually get to live that future, and how many continue to deny their todays for the tomorrows they may never experience? How many people live their lives as a dress rehearsal, preparing for ‘Some Day When It Will All Be Perfect?’ The movie is rolling now. This is it.
Start living your life now, or when it’s all over, your final thoughts will be a lot of “I wish I had … ” thoughts. I can assure you that it’s much better to be able to say, “I’m glad I did …”
A version of this article was first published in the February 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.