In yogic texts, the word Avidya refers to the act of ‘not seeing clearly’ and is stated as one of the main afflictions of the human race.
As information is bought to us through the outside world by sight and sound we scramble to make sense of it. Conversations or actions of others are processed and stored in our filing system, the brain. This is how we make sense of our own world.
As humans we like to have stories about things in our world. We have thoughts, opinions and ideas about certain events and people.
When we process incoming information we quickly find the file to put it. This information gets added to our version of our story. But how do we know that story is correct in the first place? What tends to happen is we work at reinforcing those ideas we already have so our filing system can sometimes be nothing more than a glorified attic. We keep adding the old furniture, moving it around and rehashing it.
Joshua Bell is a famous violinist. An experiment saw him placed in a subway to busk. Thousands of people walked by without acknowledging the virtuoso. Is this because their perception of him was a dirty person in the subway? What would be their impression of him while paying $100 for a ticket as he played his 3.5 million dollar violin?
Here is another example. An old friend hasn’t rung you for a very long time. You have now formed the opinion that they don’t like you or you have said something to upset them. You start to form a back story about that person to add to your file. Each day that passes you keep adding to the file, reinforcing your original thought.
Then you bump into them in the street, you feel agitated, unsure, they come up to you and say hello and then explain they were called overseas on business suddenly and they are so happy to see you again.
This happens each day, every moment. We become blinded by our own incorrect version of events. Our job therefore is to try to process information, words, actions of others without adding a story and to help others do the same. This is the creation of awareness.
Practice for today: Think about the times that you have had the ‘wrong end of the stick’. If thoughts, actions or words come your way today file them carefully under ‘love’ instead of in the dusty attic. What stories can you change today?