art: Perceiving the World: What do you remember?
Winter. New York. 2016. Photo credit: Jehan Semper
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NEW YORK. 2016
PHOTO CREDIT: JEHAN SEMPER
Do birds remember? Are there birds that have negative memories of their "childhood"? Do birds have "issues" with their parents?take a guess
I like programming. I like building and improving the code that creates this website. That's my idea of something enjoyable. During one of my improving sessions, I introduced a variable that didn't seem to have any effect. And, then I remembered: I told the code to "listen" to specific variables and only those variables. I added the new variable to the group of variables to which it should "listen" and continued my improvements.
I chose a precise group of variables because that is better for efficiency. The code is faster, simpler to improve. I've been pondering the idea of how I could implement a similar methodology in my life. How do I remember only the events, thoughts and ideas that are good for me?
In Buddhist thought, there is the concept of the "mindstream". The mindstream is a continuity of thoughts and perceptions that persist from one life to the next. However, the mindstream does not have concept of "I" or "me". It is just a consciousness that perceives. My understanding of the mindstream is a consciousness that says, "This event is happening." However, there is no concept of, "This is happening to me," or, "This is happening to him or her." The mindstream does not perceive such things or ideas, it perceives events. The mindstream says, "This event is happening."
The mindstream's perceptions are continuous and occur during incarnated life and during the time that it is beyond incarnated life. There are many events that occur during life and beyond life. These events are perceived and are present within the mindstream from one life to the next. How the mindstream is joined to a soul or the self is something that I am working toward realizing. But, what I do understand is: The mindstream does not have "feelings" about the events it perceives. The events and the mindstream's perceptions of the events are objective.
What could we achieve if we are beyond the feelings of the events we experience? Our responses to events and experiences are the basis of our perceptions of the world, the past, the present and the future. How much better would our experience of life be if we simply chose to "remember" only those experiences and events that are best for our efforts?
What is the life experience of a bird? Do birds remember things, events, experiences? I know that birds have some memories and ability to remember. I know this is true because birds build nests. A bird's nest is something that is intended to persist and it is intended for a particular purpose. Once the bird builds the nest, it remembers the location of the nest and utilizes the nest for the intended purpose. The memories necessary to build and utilize the nest are a required element for the continuation of their species. But what about other experiences and events? Do birds remember those? Are there birds that have negative memories of their "childhood"? Do birds have "issues" with their parents?
Of course, we'd like to have memories, because that is the foundation of achievement. We achieve enlightenment by building on what we have learned. However, the experience of life, our perceptions of experiences can be improved by precisely choosing that which affects our perceptions.
That's not to say that we should only remember positive or "happy" memories. Actually, "happy" memories are the ones that we should consider very carefully because those have the ability to affect our perceptions in the worst way. An example? Have you ever been "in love"? The feelings of being "in love" are very pleasant, but what if the person you were in love with was a negative presence in your life? If you chose to keep the memories of being "in love", that could affect your perception of people, events and circumstances in the future. Those "happy" memories could have the effect of inviting similarly negative presences into your life. "Happy" memories that are connected to "negative" things, should be considered carefully.
The opposite example would be "negative" memories that are connected to "good" events, such as working out, education, etc. These experiences may have created "negative" memories of effort, time invested and sacrifice, but the ultimate result is something good: a healthy body, a beautiful achievement.
Knowing that, we understand that the task is to choose a group of memories that are best for our efforts and not simply a group of "happy" memories.
When I originally arrived in Utah, I made a decision that I would behave as though I had never experienced anything negative. This decision was very important because I had just come out of a very difficult time in my life. People have different responses to their life experiences. Some people respond with humour and they say, "Wow. That was really something!" And, then there are some people who respond with bitterness and say, "I'm angry, I hate people, I hate life." These responses affect the way that they perceive the world. I made a decision that I would perceive my experiences in Utah with a pure heart and mind. This is a very powerful tool that gave me the ability to accept opportunities and achieve goals that were available to those with a pure heart and mind.
I have had many experiences. I have many memories. I am sorting them to choose those that are best for my efforts.
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