It had been raining day in and day out, when finally the weather cleared. The sky was a clear blue without a cloud in sight. Soon, summer would come.
That day, feeling good with the arrival of the bright and sunny weather, I went out for a walk with one of my students for the first time in a while. After walking for about an hour, we came upon a resort and discovered a sign that said that we could take a golf cart from there and drive about 15 minutes to a scenic pond with a beach.
We decided to find the pond, and set out in one of the carts. My student drove, but after 20 minutes the pond was still nowhere in sight. We had been driving through a maze-like forest path, and it seemed like we had passed the same scenery more than once. After about 30 minutes, my student, obviously flustered, said, “I think I went the wrong way. Since a lot of time has passed today, would you like to go back? I think it would be better for me to figure out the right way and come back another time.”
I told him not to worry about it. With his effort we had made a good start. But I thought we could still find it that day. So I carefully looked at the map we had brought. After examining it from all angles, I was able to see the overall lay of the land and where we were at the moment.
So I told him, “Let me drive this time, and let’s give it another try. The pond is probably hiding around here somewhere.”
Once we saw the bigger picture, it was easy to find our way. We ended up passing several distracting smaller trails that weren’t even on the map, but then we finally found the pond. While we were there, we had the chance to discuss our adventure from a spiritual perspective.
Left, a quiet pond. Right, a duck we met at the pond.
We could see how many people in the world live their lives within the boundaries of rules and intellectual knowledge. But when viewing the world through knowledge and information from their parents, their schools, or the media, they have a difficult time seeing the bigger picture beyond their limited experience. They accept a box around them that can make them afraid to try something new. Rather than challenging themselves, they can develop a strong desire to stay in their comfort zone.
However, in order to see a situation in its entirety, you have to awaken an inherent sense, an awareness that goes beyond knowledge and information to include your heart. When you look at the world through an open heart and mind, you are able to discover the true nature and infinite potential hiding on the other side of ordinary things and circumstances.
How can you cultivate this wider spiritual perspective?
First you need to look at something from a variety of angles, especially those not usually examined. For example, when I visit somebody’s house, the first thing I notice is the backyard or corners that are not in plain view. That’s when I can see all the undisguised facets of that house. Places that are easy to see are like wrapping paper that has been carefully prepared, so it’s possible to miss what’s under the surface. It’s the same with meeting people. If you try to see the heart of the person before you look at their external appearance, then that meeting can develop into a relationship that is even deeper and longer.
Secondly, when you come up against a problem, instead of getting flustered or rushing, accept the current situation as a new point of departure or opportunity. Young children aren’t afraid that they’ll lose their way, so they just enjoy the situation. Then as they travel through life, they receive beautiful scenery and new experiences as gifts. The same thing happened on our way to the pond: although we were lost for a while, because we stayed calm we were treated to the beautiful greenery of the quiet forest. Good luck is a gift from heaven for a proactive and positive attitude.
Lastly, practice relaxed concentration. When you’re nervous, you lose sight of the overall situation and your position in it. When you face a problem, relax and breathe deeply, staying in the moment. Then you will be centered in the place you are. From that place of centeredness, you can see the overall picture in one glance and you can regain your sense of direction. Then you will realize that there isn’t one designated way to your destination, but many viable possibilities.
As you apply these three methods in your daily life, you will come to have an even wider and more judicious way of seeing the world. More important than anything else is a pure heart that is honest and sincere, and that tries to connect with others and with nature. When you meet the world with that mentality, you recover your inherent spiritual sense, which sees inside the heart. Then whatever you do, whomever you meet, and wherever you go, a beautiful world will stretch out before you.
What kind of deeper awareness is surfacing inside you right now?