I may not be aware of it but I interpret everything that happens, directly or indirectly, through the lens of how I believe the world works. This belief system is continually reinforced because as things happen I see the outcomes from a preconceived perspective. In other words, I interpret things that happen as proving that what I believe to be true is in fact true. This circular logic blinds me to seeing the possibility that the cause and effect I assumed to be true can have a different explanation. If I don’t question my underlying assumptions, they render me impervious to change.
An illustration of this simple truth is discussed in Stage 2 of the book. A sketch that appeared on the PBS children’s program Sesame Street is referenced where Ernie is standing with Bert, who has a banana in his ear.
Ernie asks: “Why do you have a banana in your ear, Bert?”
Bert answers: “To keep the alligators away.”
Astonished, Ernie replies: “There aren’t any alligators on Sesame Street.”
Bert proudly asserts: “See, it’s working.”
Resolving misconceptions involves acknowledging that the world is full of contradiction, that a single preconceived set of beliefs is insufficient for consistent clarity. I accept that all things cannot be known, yet remain amazed that somehow the universe functions unabated and unaffected by my trivial attempts to explain or control. Understanding this enables me to see a potential solution, but only when I am open to the possibility that there exists a more meaningful way to live.
In her book The Work, Byron Katie uses an example to make this point.
“The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is, is what we want. If you want reality to be different than it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try, and in the end the cat will look up at you and say, ‘Meow’. Wanting reality to be different than it is, is hopeless.”
Visit her web site at: thework.com/
Close-mindedness can be overcome when I accept that the world operates in its own way and that superimposing a set of rigid beliefs is what makes life difficult and confusing.
Summarize when something turned out differently than you thought and discuss why this difference stems from the point of view of your belief system.