These days, I am doing a creative workshop on weekends to brush up on my writing skills. Recently, we discussed about perceptions and perspectives, which turned out to be an eye-opener. This was mainly due to our amazing teacher, Ramesh Menon.
The discussion started with how we believe what we see. Ramesh Menon asked: “Can we look beyond what we see ?”
He explained how what we see depends upon where are we standing.
To understand it better, we conducted a simple exercise, in which I volunteered. Ramesh asked me to come to the front and sit on the floor. Then, I was asked to just look forward – the condition being that I couldn’t see what was above me or anything to my left or right. I had to focus only on what was in front of me. Then I was asked to share my experience to the class in minute detail.
Then, I was asked to kneel down, see what’s in the front and again describe my experience to the class. Next, I had to stand up straight and again speak about what I saw. Finally, I had to stand up on a chair and a table, and then share my views with the class.
For me, the view changed each time. When I was standing on the table, I could see the whole view. It was totally different from what I could see while sitting down on the floor.
Through this exercise, Ramesh showed us that even though the walls and the class were the same, our view of it changed according to where we stood and viewed it from. I would urge you all to try this.
He described how we have become judgemental of people and their opinions, without thinking where they are standing.
This reminded me of my own biases. In the last three months, I have talked to many rickshaw-walas (rickshaw pullers), auto-walas (auto-rickshaw drivers), sabji walas (vegetable vendors) and chai wale bhaiyas (tea vendors).
Previously, I used to think that they must be poor, unhappy and unsatisfied with their lives. I used to pity them. I thought that their lives would be tougher and very different from ours. But honestly, it is actually not as I hadthought it to be. I have found most of them to be very happy and proud of their work. They appreciate their journeys. They have clear goals in their lives and know what they want from it. They live in the present moment. More importantly, they support each other.
I won’t mind admitting that these people have helped me become a better person. My perspective and biased views towards them have changed by viewing their lives through their lens. They made me realise about my inherent conditioning, and how we make assumptions about people in our lives without understanding their points of view.
I am still biased. But, I am happy that I have started to recognise this. Ramesh Menon suggested some simple steps that may be of help:
1. Ask questions: Always question yourself and your understanding of the things around you
2. Read: Read as much as you can on any variety of topics
3. Travel: Travelling teaches you a lot. Always go for tough options and keep all your senses open
4. Be hopeful and have a positive frame of mind
5. Keep your mind open all the time
While writing this post, I was wondering how beautiful all our lives will be if we become non-judgemental. This can only happen if we accept people the way they are, and start viewing life from a broader perspective.