I often say your outer world is a reflection of your inner one. If your inner world undergoes a transformation, you experience a change in the outer one automatically. Some people have tough time grasping it. After all, people you deal with in the real world stay the same. If someone is making you upset, will they change their ways? How does it work, what do I mean? Let me use a Taoist parable to elaborate my perspective:

Once upon a time there was a woodcutter. A master of his trade, he had a number of axes. Today, it was a sunny day after non-stop rains for more than a week. He decided to go to the forest for some fresh wood. Much to his dismay, he could not find his favorite ax. He looked at every place he could think of. No luck. He was upset with his kids for he thought they might have misplaced it, he was crossed with his wife for he felt she offers no help in his work, he was mad at the whole world. The more he looked around, the more flustered he got. He asked everyone in the family but they had no idea, they said. He was sure they were not telling him the truth.

Just then he noticed something that put his concerns to rest. He now knew that his family members were not lying. A little away, near the woodshed, next to the fence, he saw his neighbor’s young son lurking around. There he was pretending doing nothing. He looked somewhat uncomfortable, uneasy, guilty, in fact. Even though he was at a distance yet the woodman could see a sense of guilt and shame in his eyes, the type a neo-thief often fails to hide. To top it all, his arms were crossed and he quickly disappeared as soon as the woodcutter began moving towards the woodshed.

“What a rogue!” he thought, “I may not prove he stole my ax but I’ll certainly find a way to get it back. My kids should not be hanging out with this thief.” And he stormed back in his house. He canceled his plan of going to the woods. He was too angry to work. His whole day was ruined, he felt.

But for how long could he afford to put off his work! The next day, he went to his woodshed to grab another ax and there it was, hidden under the chopped wood, lying as it was, much to his amazement. His favorite ax was right there. Suddenly, his joy and bliss returned, he was happy again, his world was complete again. For a little while he felt bad for suspecting others.

Coincidentally, he met his neighbor and his son in the forest that day. They too had come for more wood. He looked closely at the young one, as if scrutinizing him. This time though, the woodcutter could not see him guilty, he did not look like a thief anymore, in fact, the kid looked every bit noble and honorable. His eyes looked innocent and his countenance stately. “Is he the same kid?” he wondered.

Beautiful story.

Does it not happen so often in real life too? Based on your thoughts, your emotions, your own state of mind, you form an opinion. It feels hard to be neutral. In the yesteryears, I used to meet many who were not competent in their area of work yet they would blame their lack of success on racism, favoritism etc. Every glance by anyone from another race, culture, color, religion would make them feel as if they were being discriminated against.

Sometimes you are so sure about what you think but any surety is often a matter of opinion. This is what I mean when I say how you perceive the outer world is a direct derivative of what is stocked in your inner one. If you are paranoid, if you are insecure, you will feel edgy with the whole world, your mind will make you think as if everyone has some hidden agenda, as if everyone is out there to get you. Your conditioning directly affects the quality and nature of your opinion. People have opinions about things they do not know, about other people they have not met, about religions they do not practice, about almost everything in life. It is normal; does not mean there is no better way though.

If you are constantly stressed or sad, if you are mostly worried and down, if you are unhappy more than you are joyous, take a hard look at your opinion about others, about the world. If you examine it with patience, you will find a pattern emerging. I have seen people who are unhappy are mostly so with everyone, those who are positive and appreciative always find something good in everyone to admire. And how to rise above your opinions? Spend some time in introspection, self-contemplation. You will see the world in a new light thereafter.

Go on! Derive a viewpoint from your first-hand experiences and not based on what others tell you. This will empower you beyond your wildest imagination.

Peace.
Swami

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