Everything Bends: When Life Defies Our Way of Thinking

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We live in a world of digital bits, bytes, and on/off switches. If it just stopped there, we would be okay, but it doesn’t. We project that kind of thinking onto our world views of everything from politics to baking to morality. Oh, if only life were so simple.

The truth is that life is not about black and white truths. Life is all about shades, hues, and contours. Life is not defined with straight lines. Everything bends. After the recent Presidential election, someone spoke to me with concern, saying, “I’ve always considered myself to be a liberal, but I’m realizing that some of my values are rather conservative, and that horrifies me. It offends me that so many people are wealthy while others are starving. At the same time, I value the little wealth I’ve accumulated and don’t feel like giving it all away. I’m all in favor of universal healthcare, but the cost of insurance has already risen to a level I can’t really afford. I think everybody should have a nice home and a good education. But can the nation afford that? I guess idealistically I’m totally liberal, but realistically I have to admit some conservative values have crept in.”

I responded by explaining that all things are a continuum. Nobody is totally conservative or totally liberal. We would be hard pressed to even define what these things mean. Certainly, even the most extreme conservative would lend a helping hand to another person. The question is how far that generosity goes. Certainly the most extreme liberal would have some things they would consider to be their personal possessions.

Furthermore, everything in life is a multi-variable equation. There are so many factors involved in even the simplest decision that cannot be weighted with black and white precision. It all boils down to feeling. When making decisions, we oftentimes have to draw the line somewhere, but in reality there is no line. It’s all a continuum of shades, hues, and contours.

All too often, we strive to arrive at our decisions through analysis as if there is some sort of mathematical formula to solve. As a result, our minds spin around in confused circles, when the ultimate solution is not even attained through the mind. It is attained through the heart, and the heart does not feel by using bits, bytes, and straight lines. Common sense is precisely that: a sense, a feeling, or an imprecise notion. Wisdom is simply a deeper refinement of common sense.

We may think we think our way through life, but actually we feel our way. It’s good to collect black and white bits and bytes of one thought and another. To an extent, the more information we collect, the better. But if we lose ourselves to the thought process, the analytical process, we lose the best part of ourselves. So ultimately, the best of our thinking process isn’t done with our analytical mind. It’s actually done with our heart and our gut. Yet to do that effectively, the soul needs to settle into its depth. Otherwise, the subtle contours and hues of life are lost to a torrential storm of emotional upheaval, and those deep, finer feelings of common sense and wisdom are overshadowed by coarser emotions.

So how do we help ourselves settle into the depth? The technique I’ve found most helpful for that is the Surya Ram Meditation. It is natural and imposes nothing on the awareness.

As we see how life really works, it becomes obvious that there are no black and white rules which define our morality, spirituality, and insightful decision making process. Certainly, in extreme cases, such rules can be effectively applied. But what we’re talking about here is the other 99% of life. The majority of life where only fanatics see in concrete, rigid, black and white, while the wise see in abstract, ever flexible and bending shades, hues, and contours.

Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. Michael Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a 'bridge' between the abstract and concrete, the Eastern and Western, and the ancient and modern. Dr. Mamas writes on a variety of subjects on his blogs, MichaelMamas.net and RationalSpirituality.org.

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