Do we interpret the teachings to make them fit our personal reality?

When I was younger I had a violent brother. This is not a value judgement as I know he suffered a great deal of inner torment and frustration. He was incredibly shy and kept himself busy working - constantly. One of the interesting things about my brother - that gave me an insight into human beings - was the contradiction between his understanding of the ‘truth’ - how things really are - and his way of life.

My brother was constantly giving of his time and energy to help others - for minimal or no cost. He had an incredible range of creative abilities - a jack of all trades! It was clear to me that his life was predicated on kindness to those in need. He would go out of his way to help anyone. Every one he benefitted was really moved by his generosity of spirit and practical hands-on help and assistance.

The contradiction was what he actually thought life was about in contrast to how he behaved - in general. His philosophy was: life is cruel and violent and every living being exists in a constant struggle for existence - human and animal. He insisted that the ‘Darwinian’ idea: the struggle for existence - was the primary driving force in human-nature. People were fundamentally selfish and violent beings and that is why the world is, as it is!

I am asking questions about our way of looking at the world - and people. What I found incomprehensibe was the contradiction between my brother’s every-day behaviour, his generosity, and his emphatic belief that people were everything but generous and kind. He was a human being - like everyone else - and he seemed unable to see himself in a way that could help him to understand human beings in an unbiased way. We are all a mixed bag of possibilities and potentials - its not black and white.

It made no sense that he could not reflect on his behaviour and understand human nature a little better. If he had been able to do this it might have helped him in dealing with some of his deep despair and loneliness.

The point I am angling towards is how the so-called truth that we ‘see’ is often informed by what is going on in our inner-life. My brother could not see the implications of the way he behaved in a way that helped him to understand that which is truly important - human goodness. That which makes us all the greatest wonder in the known universe!

If we tend to feel a lot of frustration and anger we may come to believe the ‘truth’ is like this - this is the way it is. If we enjoy playfulness and are preoccupied with childish interests then the ‘truth’ of the world is made to fit our proclivities - our personal interests and, so it goes …

An inability to look at things in a calm and clear light - with kindness in our hearts - distorts our perceptions and keeps us asleep to the ‘way it is’. Nobody is coming to wake us up and we are reluctant to let go of the worlds we create - imagine into existence.


Thanks for sharing, Laurence.

1 Like

Laurence, this is beautiful! :tulip:

1 Like

Human beings are sometimes not aware of their own inner priorities and drivers- they are often not aware of what is going on for them emotionally, most of the time, so much so, they only become aware upon something great going wrong; sometimes it is too late. :frowning: There’s a term for it- Alexithymia- albeit a term specific to being unable to articulate emotions. People’s personal views may not always align with their internal views of the world which they have unconsciously absorbed. Sometimes people’s occupations don’t align with their values, and inner conflict ensues with low mood, etc. because they haven’t made conscious their core values and beliefs.

When bad things happen it might awaken those around them to be more self aware - the Buddha said, for some people bad things must happen to them, but for others it is enough that they hear something difficult has happened even in the next village, for them to be inspired to practice.

Thanks for sharing and much metta,