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Steve's Life And Business Coaching Notes

March 2012


Three points of view you can take in the ocean of life.
(I will refer to this sketch in the conversation below.)

1) Three Perspectives on Life

It has been said that the quality of your life depends less on what "happens" to you and more on how you "respond" to whatever happens. How you interpret and respond to anything depends on the assumptions and beliefs we hold to be true. This is called our perspective and since there are many ways to look at anything, it is important to choose your perspective wisely.

Here are three different meta-perspectives which you can explore and experiment with. Each would result in a vastly different experience:

The Personal

This is the default perspective for most of humanity. In it, we view ourselves as a separate body/mind finding our way in a world filled with many other separate individuals. Beyond a few allies, it is largely us against the world and with limited time and scarce resources, we are constantly searching and striving for more happiness and security.

In the context of our ocean image, this would be analogous to us taking position1, identifying with a separate, individual wave. Everyday there is a new set of climatic conditions that defines our experience. And underlying everything is a anxiety rooted in the belief of our ultimate dissolution upon some unknown shore.

As we see ourselves as finite and fragile, we are very sensitive and reactive to all change. Every shift of the wind is noticed. Every event is taken personally and assessed as beneficial or threatening. Most changes are resisted and there is almost constant striving to find an imagined better, safer, place.

The Witness

In this perspective, we take our stand beneath the constantly changing drama on the surface of life. (In our drawing, this would be position 2.) Here we notice that no matter what change is happening on the surface, there is a deeper part of us that is not affected. This deeper part of us can simply witness all events.

So even though the world around us is constantly changing and every moment brings a new set of thoughts and emotions auditioning for attention and calling us into action, we remain unperturbed. We know all things will come and go without affecting the essence of what we are.

It is clearly seen that this witnessing part of us is always present. And because it remains unaffected by changing circumstances, thoughts and emotions, it is seen to be a greater or truer perspective. Here, nothing needs to be taken personally. And, as we witness, we are still able to respond, or not, to life as needed.

When you first start to assume this position, it is natural for the witnessing part of us to have an investment in how things turn out. (Because with any observation, the human mind tends to kick into judging and preferring mode.) However with practice, this activity can be seen and surrendered too, so you are left with pure witnessing.

As everything is observed without an agenda and nothing needs to change, this perspective translates into a gentle experience of peace and happiness. It is discovered, perhaps for the first time, that happiness is not achieved in some imagined future set of better circumstances at the end of an arduous journey. Rather, happiness is discovered to be our true nature that reveals itself as we let go of the habit of constantly thinking that things need to be different.

The Sage

In this perspective, position 3 in our ocean analogy, we no longer identify with a particular wave, nor do we remain separate simply witnessing from the calmer depths. Rather we recognize that in reality our lasting identity is that of water. And while we might temporarily identify with a particular wave, current, or tide, we are in fact all constituted of the same stuff and literally one with the rest of our universe.

Sometimes this point of view comes from a simple recognition that we are all made up of the same life force, (recycled energy, atoms, molecules, other star stuff) and share this fragile little planet together. Sometimes it comes from simply beginning to direct more of our attention inward.

Sometimes it comes from a deeper recognition that whatever we are that actually experiences/witnesses life, is in fact completely inseparability, (or one with) whatever seeming separate object or other that is being experienced.

Inevitably everything comes from Grace when it is meant to come. We may have thought we are separate, finite, waves; but to our great relief we wake up to the discover that our true identity is that of the ocean.

When this point of view is put to the test and found to be true, experientially, it can shatter many previously unchallenged assumptions and generally liberate you from a host of conditioned responses and fears. The fragrance emanating from the blooming of this direct knowledge, is intimacy and love.

Choose Carefully

It is a gift to realize we have a choice as to how we can view our existence. I encourage you to carefully explore which position serves you best in any situation.

However, for any of these perspectives to have power to change our outlook, how we feel and how we behave, it must be occupied long enough to be put to the test. Is it true? Does it align with my direct experience?

In the end you get to choose. So choose carefully.

“Your love of others is the result of self-knowledge, not its cause. Without self-realization, no virtue is genuine. When you know beyond all doubting that the same life flows through all that is and you are that life, you will love all naturally and spontaneously.

- Nisargadatta

Visit Steve at Life and Business Coach Steve Mitten.

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