(Note: This post was originally written in May of 2012, but although my current life is not presenting the same issues, the concepts delineated are as relevant in this moment as they were seven years ago.)
There are certain key concepts involved in Not So Big Living that I want to assemble in one place, where they’re easy to find for those interested in learning more. So over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some of my earlier blog posts that focus on these key ideas. The first of these is a saying that is at the very heart of understanding our lives differently:
The World’s Not “Out There.” It’s In You!
What I’m experiencing right now is an awareness that no matter what I do, and no matter how much I try to get things to move along in my world—whether that’s related to projects I’m working on, or emails I’m wanting replies to—they’re taking longer to take shape than I’ve experienced before. When I focus on this fact, it could very easily become frustrating or even demoralizing. For that to happen though, I would have to be attributing a meaning to the slowness. I might suppose, for example, that the people I’ve written to and am awaiting an answer from aren’t really interested in what I’ve written to them about. That simple notion could lead me to question whether what I’m doing really has any value. And that thought could send me into a tailspin of inertia and eventual depression.
I’ve concocted this short scenario to show you the dangers inherent in attributing and/or projecting meanings onto events that we really have no information about. Yet we do it all the time. We come up with some arbitrary idea about why someone did something, or didn’t do something (as in the case above, where I didn’t get an email response and projected a meaning based on that evidence), and then we riff on that meaning in the thought world inside our head, adding and embellishing until we’ve gotten ourselves into a real tizzy—all about something that is a figment of our imagination. This process is such a reflex for most of us that we don’t realize we’re doing it at all. We assume it is reality, when it is anything but!
This is one of the ways we make a world for ourselves and then live in it. By that I mean that the world as you know it is not at all what you think it is. We see the world as something that’s clearly outside us, and we believe that because of that world we are forced to act in particular ways to keep ourselves from being hurt, or upset, or ripped off, or…(fill in your favorite fear here). But in fact we are making up our world. We are projecting our fears, via the technique described above of indiscriminately attributing meaning, onto a canvas that isn’t doing anything at all to us. It simply IS. So the world is not out there. The world is in you. It’s your world. And you are the only one living in it.
Don’t get me wrong. Everyone has their own version of a world, but each of those worlds is completely different from any other, and all of them are equally frustrating if we don’t learn how to catch ourselves in the process of meaning attribution and further projections.
One of the amazing aspects of what I’ve been observing in my own life recently is that although the pace of events seems to have changed, there’s not actually any problem. Everything seems to take care of itself, despite the pacing shifts. In fact, if anything, there are fewer problems, because there are fewer balls to juggle and thus fewer difficulties to overcome. But if I use comparison with past years as a measure, I could find myself wondering why things aren’t happening at the speed I’m accustomed to, and I could become concerned.
Whatever is happening in your life right now is perfectly crafted to wake you up to the fact that you have been making your world the way it appears to be for long enough, and that there are some very simple tools you can implement to see through that world creation and beyond, to what’s actually happening when all the attributed meanings are turned off.
Learning to use these tools for catching the meaning generation, for identifying your primary conditioned patterns, and for recognizing when they’re kicking in, is a major part of what Not So Big Living is all about. Although this may not on the face of it look very exciting, it can completely transform your life. It can allow you to find the time, in the middle of the life you are living right now, to do the things that you’ve always longed to do, but believed to be impossible because the world (your world) is so perfectly arranged to keep you from them. But it isn’t really, you see. It’s you who’s been in the way of realizing all those dreams all along. Remove the meaning generation and you can begin them today.
This is what’s meant by “The World’s Not Out There. It’s In You!” It’s your interpretations of what’s happening that create your world. It’s not the way it really is. It’s only so inside your head.
So I hope you’ll give some thought both to the issues that seem to be in the way of your realizing your own dreams, as well as the kinds of thoughts that are in fact attributions of meaning to things that you really don’t know anything about. The meaning you are seeking is closer than you can imagine–right on the other side of all those meanings and projected consequences that are the smoke screen keeping you from fully experiencing this moment … right here, right now, unencumbered by thoughts about what’s happening in any way. That’s where living is really taking place, and it is here for each and every one of us, always, when we learn how to be here completely, experiencing the simplicity of what is–whatsoever that might be.
To learn more about the tools for seeing through your own meaning attributions, take a look at Chapters 4 and 5 of The Not So Big Life.
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