Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vantage Point

How we each view the world is dependent on our vantage point. Most of the disagreements and conflict we find ourselves in with our partners, children, parents, friends, neighbors or co-workers revolves around the fact that how we view a given conversation or circumstance is not the way others view the same.

This is an ever-present problem with living a life with an ego. Most of us have a strong tendency to think that how we view a given situation mirrors objective reality -- that the way we see things is the way all others see things. We're often flummoxed when we discover that this isn't so!

I really got to thinking about this topic after penning yesterday's post, "From the Teeniest Drops". In said post, I wrote that "My guess is that each drop of water doesn't care. Each finds its meaning and purpose in the marriage of the individual with the whole and, in time, it comes to view itself as the whole, not as one separate individual." I realized later that I really don't know what I'm talking about!

My supposition is based solely on MY vantage point. Since I view water as a fluid whole, I have surmised that each drop of water has no issue with merging with other such drops to create a unified substance. Who knows? Maybe these droplets view the world just like people do.

As I sit here before my computer, my eyes and mind can see a lot of separation. I'm sitting in a chair and it's obvious that my body and the chair neither are the same entity nor fused together. The computer is a separate object as is the keyboard I'm pecking on, the desk my computer sits upon, and the mug of chocolate milk I'm sipping. From the vantage point of my ego, all that is in this room is separate and distinct from this being I call me.

Conversely, who is to say that droplets of water don't experience the same feelings of separation? Each one may see (ok, using the word "see" is a metaphor as there's no way to know if water droplets have an ego) thousands of separate droplets around them plus the space between each and other microscopic elements that are separate from it.

In other words, what looks like unity from my vantage point may not seem like unity at all from a closer vantage point. In this same vein, the world of separation that my ego experiences may appear as a unified whole to some higher being from a more expansive point of reference.

For example, if there is an entity called God, does she/he view each person as a distinct entity OR does she/he view all of humanity as one unified organism OR does she/he view all of creation as one unified substance? Of course, none of us can answer this question because of our limited vantage points.

I realize that for some of you such metaphysical ponderings may seem whimsical, at best, and bordering on insanity, at worst. There's no way we can answer any of the questions I've posed, so why even bring them up. But whimsical thinking can underscore points that affect everyday life and, in this instance, my chief motivation is to draw out the importance of how each person's unique vantage point influences how we think, act, experience and interpret the world around us.

At the end of the day, I think we must each admit that we genuinely don't know very much about ourselves, the varying aspects of our world and about our gods -- if any even exist -- at all. For each advancement in knowledge, consciousness and technology, in many ways, we're still as clueless as our ancestors who drew pictures in caves.

About the only difference I can discern -- of course, this too is based on my unique vantage point -- is that modern humankind simply is a bit more full of itself. We THINK we know so damn much when, in truth, we know so very little.


  1. Alan Watts used to use the example of a person who had never seen a cat except though a hole in a fence. The hole was just at the height that all the person would see would be the cat's head and then a few seconds later the tail would pass by the hole. This person knew only that a cat head appearing implied, in time, a tail but never understood that they were connected by a cat body. A person on the other side of the fence would have the full knowledge of cat. Our understanding is similar in that our vantage point plus artificial obstacles, either real or imagined, drive our understanding. Learning and understanding is identifying and eliminating obstacles whether they are because of our vantage point or something else.

  2. Great point!! Anytime someone quotes or paraphrases Watts, I can only tip my hat. : )

  3. Up to about two years ago, I thought I could read minds. I thought that if someone said something, I knew the meaning for sure. And it was usually negative and against me.

    I heard talk about "the ego" but it went over my head. Others said "don't take it personally" and it also went over my head.

    Then somehow, recently, I came to understand that when people talk and go around living their lives, they're too busy thinking about themselves to think about me. Most folks have absolutely no time to spend making my life miserable. Their vantage point rarely includes me.

    Then I understood what the ego was. Finally. Alleluia! The heavens opened and I saw choirs of angels singing.

  4. Lorena's comment made me laugh!

    I know I can read minds! And I know that no matter what a person is thinking that is has something to do with me! And I know that this person hates me and is plotting my demise!

    It's sad what low self esteem combined with ego can do to a person.

    Thanks for the words of wisdom Lorena (and RT).


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