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“Empty of desire, perceive mystery.
Filled with desire, perceive manifestations”  – Tao Te Ching

Connected with the understanding of careful reasoning and unbiased thought, there is observation. In particular, I’m referring to here non-judgmental observation, of the meditative sense.  In order to focus your mind on the truths of the world, a person must fundamentally understand what it is that biases them. What it is that shapes their perspective, speckles their viewpoint. To find these biases, there needs to be observations without judgment. To just look at how it is things come to exist, do exist, and cease to exist. To find exactly what are the causes and effects.

Meditation is a great example of this effort. When a person meditates, they are expected to just let thoughts come and go, to observe them, then to release them. There is no judgment made, it is not ‘a good thought’ nor ‘a bad thought’. One might take notice that the thought induces anger, or sadness, or some other emotion. One might notice that the thought is short and sweet, or notice it is long, heavy and convoluted. These are not judgments, however, these are just observations.

In this same way, a person can observe all external things. Your friend does not show up at your invitation, you notice this, observe it, realize you are not fully aware of the circumstances that caused their action, and are then able let it go. Perhaps later you will find the reasoning behind her action. In the meantime do not make a judgment.  Do not think “she doesn’t like me”, “she is not a good friend”, or “she’s always forgetting things”, for indeed, you have little idea why it is she did not show up. Just observe for now, and let it go. By doing so you are training yourself to not getting wrapped up in emotion and erroneous assumption.

This is only a shallow instance, but perhaps we can indulge a bit of exploration into deeper levels of this effect. By participating in non-judgemental observation on your own thoughts, you will see that due to your personal family, friends, country, culture, ideology, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and overall environment, you have certain biases and social constructions that form your personal identity and image of self. (Social constructionist theory) This is true for all human beings, but how might one carefully observe these deep seated perceptions? What gain may there be from such observation?

Take a moment to consider the following thoughts:

  • If this generation had no wars, would that be considered fortunate, or unfortunate? If this generation had many wars, and your family, friends, country, culture, ideology, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or just yourself came out the victor, would that be considered fortunate, or unfortunate?
  • If this generation fed everyone around the world, would that be considered fortunate, or unfortunate? If this generation grew immense amounts of food for your family, friends, country, culture, ideology, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or just yourself, allowing them to eat comfortably at all times when others could not, would that be considered fortunate, or unfortunate?
  • If this generation calmed their bodies, minds and spirits and became at peace and compassionate towards all others equally would that be considered fortunate, or unfortunate? If this generation was filled with outcry, anger, violence, hatred, upheaval, and blood-stained revolution, and your family, friends, country, culture, ideology, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or just yourself came out with more rights, more privileges and more power, would that be considered fortunate, or unfortunate?

Our biases, on the scale of looking out for mankind, can favor one side over another. Our divisions of nationality, ideology, culture, and whatever else cause us to tear apart humanity arbitrarily. This is unnecessary, and is only an unfortunate repercussion of evolutionarily ill-adapted thoughts from our earlier days which were rife with the problems of scarcity and survival that simply no longer need to be the case. So, we should observe our thoughts and biases carefully, and see if they make sense in this age of technological advancement, abundance, and connectedness, and most importantly in the grand scheme of the welfare of humanity and beyond. This will allow us to truly reason about the best courses of action for all humanity, not getting wrapped up in personal desire.

So perhaps it’s time to take a moment, to put down judgments, and look out into the world, then look within oneself. What is hidden out there that you do not know? What perspectives have you not seen? What does it feel like to be poor, to be Chinese, to be gay, to be ill, to be Muslim, to be female, to be a sibling, to be a parent, to be an outcast? How does it feel to be yourself, what are your biases, what is your perspective?

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