Thursday, 28 April 2016

Perspective; To Each Their Own

In a conversation...

Akira conveys, "You know what the problem with my life is? I never have anything I want. I've been dreaming to become the richest villager so I can finally afford to buy cattle and maybe a bullock cart and–"

"Dear Akira, look at this tiny snail gliding away on his path. Do you know the purpose of his life? He travels all day in the search of juicy leaves, and reverts back into his shell at the sight of predators. That is all he needs to survive. So Akira, do you have everything you need to survive?", the sage questions leaving Akira speechless. 

_ _ _ _

Perspective. When I think about this word, I remember a beautiful scene from the movie Ratatouille. If you've seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, well, see below. 

Perspective is the most individualistic and personal something. Everyone we know is half a glass of water, and the remaining glass is their perspective. It's your perspective that determines whether you see yourself as half a glass full of water, or half a glass short of water, whether you focus on what you have or what you're missing. Either way, it plays a very important role in our lives. 

More often than not, we outlook the role of this important aspect. We forget that it exists and we forget that it varies for every different person. For instance, an hour long workout may be a blessing to someone, and yet dreadful to someone else. Let's think of the caring husband who always remembers to bring red roses every Valentine's. If ever, he misses out on conducting the ritual, the wife is sure to conclude that with the forgone roses, the husband's love too is forgone. However, does this wife stop to think about the husband's day and probable stresses that may have been a factor behind his slip of mind? Maybe, maybe not. If she does, she's engaging herself in widening her own perspective to reach out to and see through that of her husband's, in which case she weaves a happy home. Contrariwise, if she doesn't, she's allowed dominance for her own perspective in disregarding his, leading to nothing but negativity and resentment, gradually weaving a discontent home. But, what's the point?

Is there really much point in feeling the need to change everyone's perspective to match your own? Where one can never have control or dominance over other people's thoughts and perspective, such feelings will only cause pain and suffering in the long run. In that case, isn't it much better to rather work on widening our own horizons, and so, our own perspective? 

Ask yourself, do you go about your life like Akira, counting only your misfortunes and losses? Or do you step away from that every now and again, and grasp the snail's attitude of counting your blessings and achieving a sense of fulfilment in your bare necessities? 


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

A Sunflower's Ego

"Akira, my beloved, why do you look so frustrated?", asked the wise, old sage. 

"Because I am! I'm extremely frustrated and angry!" exclaims the furious Akira. 

"Oh dear" says the wise, old sage as he comforts Akira. "What is it that makes you feel like that?"

"It's my friend, Habiki!", exclaims Akira. "He tires me, makes my head hurt. Whenever I tell him something, he resorts to an argument and we always end up fighting rather than resolving my problem. I do so much for him and I'm always being the bigger person. And Habiki? He only thinks about himself. He's selfish!" 

"Akira dear, come sit next to me," said the sage welcoming Akira into his space, "I would like to tell you the story of a sunflower.

"Once upon a time, there lived a sunflower who was the King of his kind back in the day. He was as bright as the Sun above us, and his charm had every flower in the field blush at his mere sight. He attracted the bees like no other, and flaunted his beautiful yellow petals all day long. His tall, sturdy stalk supported his large flower head, just as it also supported the cucumber vines that grew alongside. 

"The sunflower's pride was larger than his head, and he despised the cucumber vines growing on his stem. He would always complain that the cucumber is good for nothing, and all it can do is using his sturdy stalk to provide himself with a natural trellis. 'I am the mightiest of all,' he would say, 'without my shade and support, this cucumber would never be able to grow. I am done being used by him for his own selfish reasons, I want my freedom!' 

"With this thought, the sunflower decided to kill the cucumber plant by moving his petals to an angle and withdrawing his shade on the plant. The cucumber slowly starts to shrivel and burn in heat, while the sunflower is overjoyed with his victory. 

"As the weeks passed after cucumber's demise, the sunflower lost his charm and colour. Bees lost their attraction towards it and weeds took over all its soil, along with the nutrients in it. More so, the farmer's continuous over-watering loosened the soil in which its roots were engrained. The sunflower fell feeble. One day, his stalk wasn't able to sustain his weight anymore, and as it let loose, the sunflower clobbered down forgoing his life and his pride."

As the sage finished reciting his story, he looked at Akira fondly and said:

"Being a bigger person is not about validating our position, but rather forgoing the need to be right in every instance."


The sage's story depicts a powerful sunflower who saw nothing beyond himself. He felt mightier than the cucumber, and this feeling translated into his perception of being bigger and better than everyone else. The doom of the sunflower is a metaphorical representation of people who are deluded into believing they're always right and virtuous, failing to see the value of the person they're in conflict with. In the story above, the sunflower failed to realise that it was the cucumber plant that reduced the growth of weeds and assured the soil doesn't remain over-watered. All he could see was the support it provided the cucumber, and not the value of cucumber vines on its existence. 

The story portrays that strength, power and believing one is always right does not make them a bigger person. All this can achieve is the validation of one's own position, in victimising others with their own bitterness and insecurities. 

Thereafter, a person who aims to resolve a conflict and comes out of the battle feeling empowered as he confirmed to himself and to others that he was a bigger person by taking the charge of solving a conflict even though he was victimised, is still not a bigger person. 

On the contrary, a bigger person is someone who doesn't see himself as bigger or mightier than others, whether it's in their power or their action. For instance, if someone forgives the other and comes out as feeling like a bigger person because they let go of the issue, in reality hasn't let go of the issue. All they're doing is identifying with their ego of, in this case, being a bigger person and empowering it by conducting the action of forgiveness and directly or indirectly letting the other person feel indebted to them. Hence, a bigger person is someone like the cucumber plant, who goes on performing his duty without seeking any attention or having the need to feel superior than others.  

A bigger person is someone who forgoes the opportunity to be right and lets go of his attachment to the conflict situation. It's the one who understands that being right will not translate into peace of mind or any sort of fulfilment, and knows that in setting off to prove ourselves right, all we can ever end up doing is prolonging our own suffering. 

To end this type of suffering, one needs to train themselves into disidentifying from their ego and practice ceasing the need to always be right.