As a child we view the world with great curiosity and interest. Everything seems new and exciting. We chase butterflies, we play by being fully present in the moment and we look at the world with wonder. In learning about things as we grow, we tend to lose our excitement and enthusiasm. We learn what things are, how they work and what they do. We begin to view things based upon our knowledge and conditioning. We lose our curiosity because we come from a place of knowing. In this week’s blog, I’d like to share the idea viewing everything with curiosity. This perspective changes the world and our outlook on life.
To know something is to create finality in our understanding. Knowing allows us to categorize things, to fit them into an ordered view of the world. Knowing provides solid ground and security. We like things to be solid, consistent and predictable. We like to be able to view our world with some sense of order. For most people, chaos in their world creates upheaval, confusion and frustration. We go to great lengths to create some sense of order in our world and each of us does this with varying degrees of comfort. Some people like routine while others like regular change. Regardless of one’s path, we are creating an orderly world based upon our knowingness.
Yet knowing is death and is based upon an ego’s view of the world. If I know something to be true there is no possibility for it to be other than it is. The ego likes to know. It validates its existence and solidifies a righteous perspective. Knowing does not provide the opportunity to learn. How many times have you heard on the news how scientists have discovered what they thought was true is in fact not correct? We used to believe the world was flat and that we were the center of the universe. Our understanding has since changed. We see things differently today and yet are our current perspective of our world today the correct view? All life is in a constant state of change.
We look to verify our view of the world by seeking consensus or validation from others. As a child, we look at the sky and say how blue it is. Our parents agree and say yes the sky is blue. We then live our lives believing that the sky is blue. Our view of the world has been validated by others who are looking through a similar lens. Each of us ise human and views the world with the same equipment and tools. Yet, the world looks very different to a bee. They see in a different range of light. Similarly, some animals see the world through heat sensors. How they view and interpret the world is different from us and yet we believe the world is as we see it.
In her book Start Where You Are, Pema Chodron, speaks about a meeting of two great meditation masters. “…They are sitting silently on a park bench for some time. Then one master says to the other, they call that a tree and they both laugh.” The point to this story is that we categorize and view the world through similar lenses and then believe that we know.
If we could continue to view the world as a child with innocence, wonder and excitement we would begin to see things in new ways. If we come from a place of curiosity our perspective of things and people will also change. For example, when we become angry at someone, can we be curious about the anger rather than the person we feel anger towards. Being angry at someone means that we perceive they have done something that hurts us. It makes more sense to view our anger with curiosity than to focus our attention upon the person we believe has harmed us. Pema Chodron phrases this another way, if someone has shot you with an arrow doesn’t it make sense to take the arrow out rather than focus upon who shot you? Being curious about why the anger is coming up for you opens the doorway to learning something new about yourself.
As things and events unfold in your life, try being curious about them rather than coming from a place of knowing. Being curious changes everything about what we know and opens the doorway to new possibilities. This can be very helpful when you are feeling down about something. Be curious about why you are feeling down. Be honest with yourself and what is going on for you. Remain open to viewing the world in a new way and exploring new possibilities. Curiosity is about being alive and open; knowing is about categorization and limitation. What perspective brings you greater joy?
My challenge for you this week is to take one challenging situation and be curious about it. Rather than thinking or reacting, be curious about it in a new way. See what comes up and let me know your experience. It has helped me to be lighter and more joyous.