The ‘Right’ Way To Be
One of the typical ‘human failings’ I see almost universally in people, and sometimes struggle with even in myself (yes, psychiatrists are human J ) is the tendency when differences of opinion – or anything else – arise, to want to believe “I am right, They are Wrong”. I see people struggle with this in all areas of life. There is a wonderful tale from India titled ‘Six Blind Men and an Elephant’, where 6 blind men, each positioned at a different part of the elephant, are asked to describe it. The one by its side, ‘sees’ it being like a wall, the one by the leg as if it is a tree trunk, the one at the tail as a rope and so on. They then fall into fighting over which one is right. It is a wonderful metaphor for life. Each of them has a view, and each view is quite limited, and may be accurate from that particular ‘viewpoint’ and yet none of those individual viewpoints truly gives the whole picture of the elephant. Even if one has normal vision, and is able walk under, over and around the elephant, they will still have only the external picture of that elephant. They won’t know what the insides look like, or the cellular structures, or what the elephant thinks or feels. If those 6 blind men had spent time comparing descriptions they would have at least come closer to getting a sense of the whole picture than they would ever achieve by each fighting that they had the only right answer.
No matter who we are, how determined we are to see the whole picture, we are still limited in our view of things, and this applies to almost everything in life. Yes, there are some things where we set a few rules to define a particular situation – such as rules for living within a society, or for driving a car, or for doing mathematical equations or other limited things, but many other things ‘change’ as we develop new tools for seeing things. Humans used to think the sun revolved around the earth, and earth was the center of the universe – it sure looked that way from where they stood with the tools they had at the moment. We now see that planet earth is one small speck in the Milky Way Galaxy which exists in an infinite, reportedly expanding universe. This view has evolved over time, but those early people who challenged that viewpoint were not only branded as ‘bad’ but often as evil, religious heretics, a danger to society – and even put to death for the ‘horrid’ things they were doing.
One of my very wise teachers regularly stated ‘The Universe is perfect, it is our understanding of the universe that is not perfect’. I have personally found that the less I judge, and the more I ask what the purpose of something might be, or what lesson I might learn, or what gift might be present in this seemingly horrid event, the happier I am and the better life goes for me. We are humans, we are not God, we do not have infinite knowledge. If that were the case, we might all have the same answer – or might still have a wide variety of answers. Maybe, just like there is an infinite variety of flowers and birds, there are many answers and we would do better by getting comfortable with exploring and enjoying all the diversity in this universe instead of fighting over the ‘Right’ way to be.