The nice thing about subjectivity is the possibility of influencing the situation ourselves. If my perception is subjective then I – and I alone – have all the options of influencing or being influenced in a given situation. I alone decide whether I feel that something is good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, cold or hot, beautiful or ugly!
We do not see our environment and the events around us as «objective» or neutral (perceptive reality). Instead it is rather like looking through a pair of glasses, which determines our interpretation of a picture. I hold these glasses myself in front of my eyes. According to the way these glasses change what is really a neutral picture of an event, the picture makes us feel for example fear, joy, anger or it makes us sad. We feel the picture to be good or bad, negative or positive, meaningful or senseless, dark or light, correct or false.
If we assume that this subjective influencing of the neutral picture happens in our subconscious, we can imagine there is a large collection of different pairs of glasses there. According to which pair of glasses is held in front of us by our subconscious state, we interpret the picture in a different way which then moves us for example to feel fear, anger, consternation, apathy, joy or sadness. Our perception is determined by the respective glasses.
Surely you have also noticed how a film can one day make you laugh and on another day and under different conditions you don‘t find the same scene funny at all. The scene is naturally exactly the same – it is your mood which has however changed, and therefore you interpret it differently. You have put on another pair of glasses.
It is very important – and also comforting – to see that our perception is not controlled externally. The subconscious is part of us, therefore we can influence it. We can also however allow it to be influenced by external forces. We will come back to this later.
What however has this digression into subjective perception got to do with personal development towards living the basic rights of existence? We set ourselves the question at the start as to how life confronts us with the respectively appropriate situations so that we can develop ourselves further.
One such opportunity is subjective perception: If we wish to develop ourselves further towards living the basic rights of existence, if we strive for perpetual internal harmony, then our subconscious can hold up the «correct» glasses for every situation. These «correct» glasses allow us then to perceive a given situation so that we can learn something from it – insofar as we wish to. In this way every situation finally offers us the chance of learning something. In absolutely identical situations different people can at the same time train themselves in quite different characteristics! The subconscious holds up the appropriate glasses for each person so that he interprets the situation accordingly.
At the start of this section we mentioned as an example the «ability to let go» as a possible learning step. If someone works on this learning step a lot of things will be «taken away» from him in his life: Perhaps his children will move away to a foreign country, many acquaintances will go away, he may even be made redundant by his employer, although he wanted to stay until he retired, perhaps he loses a valuable clock, his case is stolen, someone else gets the credit for part of his work etc. Naturally these are all everyday things which can happen in everyone‘s life and they are not in the least spectacular. With the glasses through which he observes these happenings he will classify each of the enumerated events himself as tremendously tragic and will presumably suffer greatly because of them. Until one day he has learned, of his own free will, to let them go. Similar things will thereafter still happen, but he will feel quite different about them since he is now looking through other glasses.
This is not all about always wearing rose-coloured glasses, so that everything is felt to be «good». It is of course possible to be tempted to outwit our subconscious by some kind of technique so that we see everything through rose-coloured glasses. However in the end we would be deceiving ourselves to the extent that we would be fighting the symptoms and not the causes.
It is much more sensible each time to observe ourselves and ask ourselves why we have felt a given situation in this way and why we have reacted in this way. This question is particularly important if (negative) emotions are linked with our reaction! Fundamentally however we can learn something from every reaction we make, as long as we establish that we judge. We can then work consciously on the causes of this and thereby develop ourselves further. Finally the corresponding glasses will «disappear» so that in future we will react differently to similar situations.
Earlier we have described how the objective of all human beings is to live the basic rights of existence in every situation in order to attain a permanent state of harmony within ourselves. With the «glasses model» and subjective perception we could also describe this as a state in which our perception is no longer impaired by glasses, in which we no longer judge but we can accept everything calmly as it is.
This parallelity should not surprise anyone: If my mood and my behaviour can no longer be influenced by external things – in other words no more glasses leading to the judgement of a situation, then I can be in a state of permanent peace and harmony with myself. Otherwise this harmony would be constantly spoiled by the judgement of all kinds of events.
This once again makes it clear just how high is this goal of permanent harmony with oneself and the non-judgement of everyday situations in deed and in truth: Each of us indeed has his weaknesses which can easily disconcert us. These can often be such banal things as a car driver behind us who hoots and flashes his headlights or makes an «explicit» sign to us with his finger. Your child which does exactly the same thing which you have strictly forbidden him to do two minutes before with the threat of punishment. A third person who spreads lies about you in the neighbourhood or at the workplace. A computer which crashes for the nth time without any obvious reason etc.
We must emphasize once again however that this calmness must not be confused with the wearing of rose-coloured glasses which allows everything to appear cheerful and good. The rose-coloured glasses would also be a judgement which – it is true – would normally appear to us to be pleasant. However we would then judge everything in life to be good and go through life like a lunatic with a fixed smile.
A great risk in connection with this is also the taking on of other people’s glasses: We frequently allow others to influence our perception or even determine it. Such people may be our parents, teachers, friends, partner and organisations, but we may also be influenced by newspapers, magazines, the Internet, radio, television, films, adverts and much more. Certainly in the case of the media, which frequently quite deliberately tries to manipulate our perception, we should be careful not to accept the judgement of the reality by a third party. The decision as to whether we permit such influence or not is ours alone.
To illustrate this let’s consider a war which is perpetrated in a foreign land by one or more nations, for example «on behalf of UN (united nations)». The Government in the country being attacked (often one individual person) is branded as a symbol of everything which is wicked and bad. Attempts are made to legitimize the violation of the basic rights of existence by military intervention in the foreign country. If we accept this judgement we are producing for ourselves a pair of glasses which conveys exactly this picture.
Nothing and no one can force us to allow ourselves to be influenced from external sources. If we do allow it, it is of our own free will. As a consequence of this however we must normally accept that there will be backward steps in our personal development. For at some stage we will have to also let go of every pair of glasses which we have acquired or taken on. The acceptance of judgements by others or allowing them to influence us therefore creates more work on our path to a permanently well-balanced nature and to living the basic rights of existence in every situation. Thereby it is of absolutely no importance from where we take on such judgements: For example whether we accept them from advertising or from a religious leader, it is exactly the same for our own development!
Subjective perception (perceptive reality) is a very powerful aid to personal development. So that it can function properly it needs only one – but very important – precondition: Of our own volition and without conditions we must want to respect the basic rights of existence in every situation. This development does not take place of its own accord.