A matter of perspective

Last night I listened to an eminent visiting American scientist being interviewed on the 7.30 Report. Listening to him, I realised there is a fundamental difference in the perspectives of science and spirituality.

Science is about exploring and gaining an understanding of the external world. Scientists are looking at the natural world – trying to figure out how it works and understand our place it in.

Spirituality is about exploring and gaining an understanding of the inner world. Mystics are looking within – trying to figure out who they are and how they are connected to the source of all being.

The problems come when practitioners write down their findings – and others insist that what is written is the truth.

Old Book

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.


Helping police officers keep their perspective

policemanRecently, I was conversing with the mother of a police officer. We were discussing how real-life policemen were different to the ones you read about in books, when she told me she had attended a presentation on measures being taken to help police officers keep a healthy perspective on life.

One of the dangers of working in an environment where you see the dark side of life, and witness all the depraved behaviours humanity is capable of first hand, is that you start to think everybody is like that.

I told her I was consciously writing my Inspector West character as an ordinary guy, with the intention of illustrating that policemen lead the same kind of lives as everybody else, and have to deal with the same relationship issues we all face. We agreed that, as in many professions, there are some aspects of policing that only insiders appreciate, and the narrowing of focus to seeing only the negative was probably one of those.

It reminded me of conversations I’d had with my wife when she was the behaviour management deputy-principal of a school. She was facing a similar perspective challenge because her day was filled with managing those students, who for one reason or another, were having a bad day. When you do that every day you start to think that all the kids are like that, when, in reality, they are only a small percentage of the total student population.

Police officers face a similar challenge but in much more demanding circumstances, where the potential consequences can be personally debilitating.

So it was good to hear that Police Departments around the world are addressing the issue, in an attempt to help their officers maintain a healthy perspective on life and be able to cope with the stress that come with their job. It can’t be easy. It’s often not easy for their families either.

Here are a few links to articles on the topic:

Thanks for dropping by, Peter

Special Roles

Some of us are ‘special’
In our world, people are rewarded for the roles they play, and we treat some roles as being more important, special or of a higher value. The chief executive officer (CEO) role, for example, is seen as a more important role, one that makes a more valuable contribution to the success of the company than, say the role of the mailroom clerk, who only ensures that incoming mail is delivered to the correct inbox and that outgoing mail makes it into the postal system. Consequently, the CEO is paid several multiples of what the mailroom clerk is paid – in some cases 100’s of times more.

Then, for some reason, we have movie ‘stars’ and professional sports ‘stars’, at least in some sports, that get paid more than CEOs, while the guys in the fire trucks, ambulances and patrol cars, who risk their lives to provide public safety, get paid very little.

We all want to be special
Let’s be honest. We all want a better position in the game we call the world. We want to make the most of what’s available. How often do we tell ourselves – I will be happier when I’m doing [……] or when I am a […..] ? We’re all dreaming about what we could do with all that extra money we’d get in our dream role. Of course, that dream doesn’t include the bit about paying more tax, does it?

There are no special roles for spiritual pilgrims
For the spiritual pilgrim, one walking the path to awakening, every function or role is equal. There is no need to wait until you have undergone some special initiation, or completed some magic 12 step program, or learnt to meditate sitting absolutely still in some far away ashram. And, it doesn’t matter what role you’re playing in the world, whether you’re the CEO or the mailroom clerk or a taxi driver. Wherever you are in the world, whatever role you’re playing, you’re in the perfect context for your journey.

No need to wait until circumstances change. Start from where you are. Your soul’s gone to a lot of trouble to put you in that context. You can be who you are and you can love just as well being a mailroom clerk as being the CEO. You don’t need to wait until you make it in your chosen career to be present to yourself and to those around you. Being present may in fact enhance your career. It will certainly make it a more interesting experience for you, as you stand a better chance of noticing what’s actually happening in your life.

If you are going to change anything in the world, first change your perspective – look inwards and not outwards for your answers. The ashram is not in India or Tibet or in some secluded valley deep in the mountains. It’s in your heart. That means you can spend all day in the ashram as you go about the daily tasks of whatever role you’re playing at the moment, whether that’s being a mother, a nun, an executive or a prostitute. You might want to sit with that thought that just popped up.

When your attention is on the present moment; when you listen for the voice for love; if things need to change in your life, they will. But, you don’t need to change the circumstances in your life to place your attention on the present moment or to listen for the voice for love. You only have to do what you already know how to do: breathe and pay attention.

Give yourself the space to breathe, and a moment to listen, before you act. I’m not talking about listening to the voice in your head shouting that you’re worthless or ugly or that nobody could possibly love, or even notice, someone as stupid as you. No, allow that voice to let off its fear generated steam, and listen for that voice that always affirms you, always tells you that you are loved, loveable and loving, and go with the wisdom of that voice. That’s your soul speaking. It never shouts. It’s there all the time. All you need to do is turn down the volume on that radio station you think is your mind, so that you can hear it.

I encourage you to give it a go today, and for all your tomorrows.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.