Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Emptiness-Hidden Potential

I have started reading a book called "The Diamond Cutter" by Geshe Michael Roach**. I have only read the first 4 chapters and have found it rather interesting. The subtitle of the book is: The Buddha on Strategies for Managing your Business and Your Life.

I know that the subtitle makes it sound kind of cheesy. And, I wouldn't normally pick up a book like this. But it came highly recommended by my wonderful father, who I turn to regularly for reading material.

The first major "lesson" in the book is around the concept of Emptiness or Hidden Potential. In summary the idea is that everything in our lives has hidden potential and that that potential in great part is dependent on our perception. That any single event, person or action acquires differing values dependent on the perception of the person viewing/experiencing the action or event.

For me personally this is nothing new. It is one of the things that I have struggled to integrate into my life for a long time. It requires you to kind of take a step back and evaluate things very differently. Or, at least, that is how I have gone about dealing with it.

This being said how does one pay attention to the way we are perceiving things? Can one change one's perception? If so, how do you go about doing that? I think that these are questions that will be answered later on in the book.

I have had a recent experience with this in my work/career life. I have identified some, what I perceive to be, fundamental flaws in the structure of a certain company that I have interacted with. One could perceive this as a purely negative thing - but this is exactly the crux of the argument. An event, situation, action is not in its purest sense anything more then an empty moment waiting for the varying perceptions that help "define" it. So - something is only what it is through perception.

I think I am going on a little tangent here but I am going to follow it anyway, because I think it gets at some of the esoteric and quantum physics elements of this argument. We know that our perception our "action of watching" an event affects the outcome of it. So, therefore an event or action is more of a container filled with an infinite amount of possibilities. Which possibility actually plays out and how it affects the viewers is dependent in great part by how it is is perceived.

One of the easiest ways to think of it is in the negative/positive dichotomy (though I hate binary thinking). Some people will perceive the collapse of a house as negative; the occupants, the owner. This is an accurate and fair perception. Yet others may perceive it in a positive light; the contractors, the architect. Once again this is an accurate and fair perception after all the collapse of the building has created additional work for these peoples.

So, we have to always remember that an event or an action are not inherently bad or good, but are rather open to multiple perspectives and interpretations all of which may be accurate.

To get back to my story about the "flaws" that I spotted in a business. These flaws can be perceived as "fundamental" and therefore prevent the company from growing in any long term situation. Or, it can be viewed more positively and a solution may be proposed, which is exactly what I did, that provides additional opportunity and creates new "hidden potentials".

What this understanding does on one level is it frees us up from being concerned about the inherent "rights" and "wrongs" - the good and the bad decisions. And, allows us to become far more empowered. We can now affect the outcome because the outcome to a great deal is dependent on our perception. Or rather the result can be interpreted in many different ways.

This is where the personal becomes so important. We have to take control of the situation in our selves, in our minds in our emotions and understand that how we are perceiving things is what is affecting the power of the events. That we can truly affect how experiences effect us.

I will keep you guys posted as I progress through the book and let you know if I have this right according to Roach.

**I want to note here quickly that there is some controversy surrounding Geshe Michael Roache as a person and some of his practices. I am not interested in commenting on this aspect of him personally but rather on his book and some of the ideas that he is sharing. If you want to read more about the controversy check out www.diamond-cutter.org

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