Dear Elliott and Shelby,
There are many factors that shape the way you perceive the animals, vegetables and minerals of the world, or heck, even the world itself. There are the easy ones that shape your opinion: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. The one that we tend to ignore, or aren’t aware of, is called the nuisance mind.
There is a way that things exist in our perception and then there is the way that they actually are and oftentimes they don’t even come close, or they did but got wildly out of control. You need to know the difference.
You have a friend and he is having a bad day for whatever reason. Your relationship is pretty good, but when you speak simply with your friend, he snaps at you. You snap right back and just like that there is this bubble between you. It is the nature of nuisance mind to keep going with the drama. You think about your friend and then you remember, “Wait he owes me $5.00. What a deadbeat he is”. Just like that the bubble gets bigger. Nuisance mind will go even further by drawing its own conclusions. You then think “That thing he said to me two weeks ago, did he really mean something else? Yeah! I bet he did”. Bubble grows more. Nuisance mind starts to get even more creative: “Wait a second! He pushed me down when I was 9”, and so it goes. Pretty soon your friend becomes a prime suspect in the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby, so to speak (Google it).
The bubble soon gets so big that it needs a postal zip code and you weren’t even paying attention. If you were, when your friend snapped at you, you would have responded in a frank and concerned manner like “I don’t know what’s going on with you, but is there something on your mind you’d like to talk about?”. Seeing things as they really are would’ve resulted in understanding for your friend and not your perception that you are being attacked.
Your friend then says “Yeah, I have a work deadline I am trying to meet right now and I really can’t talk. The work has been overwhelming”. Your friend now appreciates you much more and your relationship has grown a little more.
A bubble can’t be popped if it doesn’t exist.
As these letters go on, you’re going to think “yeah Dad, you say that but how do I ** DO ** it ?”.
That is a valid point and there’s something I need to get out of the way right now, I’m a firm believer that you can’t just make laundry lists of “do this and don’t do that”. It never works without some understanding of the why behind it.
If that were true, there would be no self help sections in bookstores anymore. I know, I know, “what’s a bookstore?”
We will need to talk about some constituent parts in the next letter on meditation.