Thanks for the fantastic response to my blog post that offered my initial thoughts on how reality “occurs” for us. I’ve never received so many responses so quickly on a post. Although I suspect I will be pondering this issue for a long time to come, because there has been so much interest in this topic I thought I’d bring you up to date on my current thinking.
I’m currently on vacation in Florida with my wife Shelly and two daughters, Blake and Brittany. Britt came from St. Louis where she is a junior at Washington University and Blake flew in from the Solomon Islands where she had been island-hopping in the South Pacific and surfing. Nothing makes me happier than being with my three girls. Even though I’m allowing myself to get some much-needed rest, my mind won’t stop thinking about the subject of last week’s blog post.
I still have as many questions as answers, but because so many of you said you were interested in my thought processes as I struggled with the distinction, “how things occur for us,” I thought I’d devote my Christmas post to a quick recap of my thoughts since last week.
We always create a meaning for the events we confront; that meaning then becomes how the events occur for us. We then think how events occur for us is an accurate description of reality. It is not. It is merely the meaning we have placed over reality. It is the filter through which we view reality and it determines how we actually experience reality.
For example, imagine you get fired from a job. That event either can occur for you as a terrible catastrophe or as an amazing opportunity. Your behavior and feelings from then on will be determined by how the event occurs for you—not by the event itself.
Another good example of how the same person or event can occur differently for different people is Shelly’s dad who just turned 90. Most of the family is upset around him when he’s telling people what to do and getting annoyed at almost anything they do. At those times he occurs to most of the family as a controlling, irritating, cranky person. He used to occur that way for me also. But after years of practice, his behavior finally has no meaning to me. He says what he says (such as telling me “how to drive” or giving me detailed directions on how to get to a place I’ve driven to at least 100 times) and I respond, “Thanks dad. Okay.”
The nature of a situation, apart from any prior beliefs, can have an important effect on how something occurs for us. For example, at his 90th birthday party the other evening he was happy, loving, grateful for the people who attended, appreciative for the party, and nothing seemed to bother him throughout the evening. How people occurred for him that evening was different from how they usually occurred for him.
What determines the meanings we create? Every old meaning we have ever created (old beliefs) affects every new meaning we create, although certain beliefs can have a greater influence than others at any given moment. For example, the belief People can’t be trusted would affect how you feel about and how you deal with all people; the belief John is out to get me would have a significant impact on how John occurs for you and relatively little on how other people occur for you.
Cultural beliefs and organizational beliefs also are relevant, such as It’s important to respect our elders in Asian countries and The best way to make money is our industry is having better design/lower prices/more distribution outlets/etc. in various companies.
I think the meanings we create about people and events as an adult are formed instantaneously and automatically. The moment you sense something in reality (through one or more of your five senses), you silently ask yourself: What does this mean? And the answer you give yourself is the meaning you have created, which then becomes how that “something in reality” occurs for you.
Why do we do that? Here’s my hypothesis: Because we usually experience ourselves as a creation (and not as the creator/consciousness) whose survival is always at stake, we need to know if what we are encountering is “for us” or “against us,” conducive to our survival or inimical to our survival.
My thoughts above are one possible description of how and why things occur for us the way they do. I think it is possible, however, to interrupt this automatic meaning-creating process and give “no meaning” to what we are confronting in reality. Consciously making real that the person or event has no inherent meaning removes (or does it minimize?) the filter you’ve placed over the reality in front of you. I think this is what people mean when they advise “living in the moment” and not the past or the future (which is the realm of beliefs, conditionings, and expectations).
Because our need for meaning stems from experiencing ourselves as a creation whose survival is always at stake, one very good way to eliminate our need for meaning is to experience ourselves as the creator of that creation.
One way to make it easier to make real for yourself that the “reality” you are confronting has no inherent meaning is to use the Who Am I Really? (WAIR?) Process to distinguish yourself as the creator of the meaning and not the sum total of the meanings.
After using that Process you can notice the meaning you’ve just automatically created and then make a critical distinction between yourself as the creator of the meaning and the creation experiencing the meaning.
Your ability to distinguish yourself as the creator/consciousness also can be enhanced by using the WAIR? Process repeatedly, so that you get used to making and then experiencing that distinction. (That is why I strongly recommend you use that Process after eliminating each belief on our various belief-elimination programs.)
But the question still remains: Is it possible to transcend all your beliefs and really live as if you are the creator and the reality you are interacting with has no inherent meaning under all circumstances, or can we do that only under some circumstances? And if only under some circumstances, what are they? At the moment, I’m not sure.
Perhaps the best way to summarize how I see this issue at the moment is by updating something I wrote last week:
Our behavior and feelings are determined primarily by how things occur for us, which ultimately seems to be nothing more than the meaning we are giving any particular person or situation at the moment. Moreover, we seem to be predisposed to automatically create a given meaning by all of our prior beliefs and conditionings. However, by making a distinction between ourselves as the creator and ourselves as the creation for whom something is occurring, and by recognizing that the “reality” we are confronting has no inherent meaning, I think we can change how that reality occurs for us under certain circumstances. And I think we can train ourselves to do it more effectively, more often.
Stay tuned. More to come.
I really appreciate all your contributions this past week. I got some real valuable insights from your blog comments. I’m looking forward to hearing from you during the next couple of weeks as I pursue this investigation. I’m really interested in what you think about the phenomenon of “occurring” and the blog posts describing my journey.
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Happy Holidays to all of you from all of us at the Lefkoe Institute: Shelly, Karen, Rodney, Liz, and myself. It’s been a very exciting year for us. It took us 24 years for 13,000 people to experience our work and in this past year alone we had over 100,0000 people visit our web site and 39,000 eliminate at least one belief. Our goal is to have at least 200,000 people experience the Lefkoe Belief Process and the WAIR? Process by this time next year.
All of us wish you a wonderful year filled with new and exciting possibilities.
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