http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/60194

 

There is a Sufi proverb, “It’s not about what you call it. It’s about what it is.” Caught in our belief systems, conditioning and Missing the objectivity, what we manage to see is not the actual reality (Truth) but rather a psychological reality or our image of the reality (a limited and contaminated version of the whole Truth). This way, we end up behaving like the proverbial blind men trying to make sense of the elephant in the room. All being right but wrong at the same time, as they are missing the whole.

A belief-bound life can be compared with that of those blind men who need to transcend their limiting beliefs to see the Truth (the whole elephant). Nearly all the spiritual paths agree that man is a microcosm, an ocean in a drop. That is, the small entity in the macrocosm that is man, encapsulates in his consciousness the entire cosmos itself. In short, raising our ‘level of consciousness’ and consolidating ‘state awareness’ by not adding, subtracting or distorting to the whole (here reality, the Truth) is the ultimate purpose of all spiritual practices. To understand the correlation between our levels of consciousness and our ability to see and observe the Truth, (things and phenomena) in a given situation, let’s spend some time understanding Aristotle’s cause model.

 

An observer who is at the lowest level of consciousness will be able to see only the Formal Cause (form and shape of creation) of life and situations. Such an observer is devoid of finer reflective capacity and sensibilities. He only believes in what he can see with his eyes. For such a person, ‘seeing is believing’. Next comes the Material Cause (composition of the creation), when the observer can not only just see/perceive a thing but also reflect upon it and understand what it is made of. At the level of the Final Cause (the reason for creation, ‘why’), the observer can see the intent behind the creation of a thing. Once he manages to see up to Final Cause, the Efficient Cause (meaning behind the creation, the Creator) is revealed to him. Or we could say, at this level, his understanding of the observer is in alignment with that of the Creator, when he gets clarity about the purpose behind the creation. In spiritual terms, it is said that the ‘observer, observation and observed become one’ at this level. No wonder God, in most cultures, is said to have bestowed ‘light’ on man . . . to me, this is the same light that helps him see the truth cutting through delusions (maya). Rumi sums it up in book 4 of his Masnavi as… “Whoever looks upon secondary causes is for certain, a form worshipper. Whoever looks upon the first cause has become a light which discerns ‘Meaning’”.

In order to see the complete picture, we need to learn to challenge our Biases, beliefs and imaginations (images or stories about things and situations) and break free from the shackles of conditioning. As the Bible says, “. . . and the Truth will set you free.”

 

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