Why “Perspectives”?

By Angus Landman

Angus Landman“We see the world not as it is but as we are” is a famous quotation, sometimes attributed to the Talmud, sometimes Anais Nin. Whoever said it is talking about perspectives or ways of seeing. The fact is, we all see the world differently and mostly assume we all see it the same…our way!

As human beings we organise and educate ourselves according to specific perspectives, promoting our way as a family, tribe and country. Until we really understand the notion of “perspectives”, we believe it is us against them… our way against theirs… rather than several different perspectives that have each emerged out of a complex of histories.

Humanity at every level is beset by conflicts and it seems to be much more helpful to understand those conflicts as arising between perspectives rather than people. Since everyone is different, who is “people”? The idea of “people” is very abstract and objectifying. On the other hand, the idea of perspective allows room for understanding the other, or “humanising the other” as Martin Luther King put it. The idea of understanding humanity in this way marks the beginnings of a profound shift in consciousness, with a consequential shift in the way humanity organises itself. A developmental emergence, a “growing up” from seeing the world as right or wrong, good or bad, to something more compassionate and sophisticated.

Ken Wilber, the renowned American philosopher, maintains that no mind is capable of 100% error, not even the “most evil”. What he means is that all perspectives make sense unto themselves as learned reactions to different experiences of the world. If we take the time – which we do in psychotherapy for example – we can explore the history and legitimacy of those perspectives; such an understanding broadens one’s perception of any given situation, and enables us to choose how to respond. Being able to choose is the key point, because until we can see that we are programmed by our perspectives – mostly unconsciously – we have no choice in how we behave. It is only as we create space to think about things and feel things that we can choose differently in relation to them.

To quote Cyril Connolly, “Life is a maze in which we take the wrong turn before we have learnt to walk”, and we continue blindly on, supporting our decisions on the shoulders of previous ones. The clue as to the “wrong turn” lies in the symptoms that show up when life doesn’t quite “work” personally; on a wider scale, we might collectively be pushing towards the edge of extinction…

The learning to see the world as “aperspectival” is itself a perspective, and it is this shift that is at the core of all therapeutic practice. To see the world “aperspectivally” is to be able to see it from different perspectives at the same time. It is a profound practice to see (and choose) differently when our internal history is screaming: “This is how it is!” and judging others from its own perspective, as if it knew them or understood….

“Practice and all is coming” said the great yogi Sri K. Pattabhi Jois about the benefits of yoga. The same could be said about learning to see the world from different perspectives: rather than harbouring our blind opinions, we could instead practice broadening our fields of vision. We would discover, without fail, a richer and more understanding world.

About Angus Landman

Angus practiced for fifteen years as a psychosynthesis psychotherapist and mediator working with conflict resolution and divorce settlement. His interests lie in the development of consciousness and the mystical traditions in general, in particular the work of the great Sufi poets.

 

January 2016

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Perspectives, January 2016 – Links to other articles in this issue

 

death cafe cupSalisbury’s First Ever Death Cafe  –  Daniel Kronenberg discusses the purpose and origins of death cafes – events that are quickly spreading across the globe – and shares feedback recently received in Salisbury. Read more…

Julia Vaughan SmithInterview with Julia Vaughan Smith – The ‘Sentence of Intention’: An Approach For Working With Psycho-Trauma  –  Nadia Sajadi-Rosen from The Practice Rooms interviews the psychotherapist Julia Vaughan Smith about her experience in working with trauma. Read more…

Fertility Wellbeing ClinicThe Fertility Wellbeing Clinic: The Fruit Of A Successful Synergy  –  The story behind a successful partnership of practitioners who first met at the Practice Rooms and later joined forces to provide a more thorough assistance to men and women struggling with fertility. Read more…

Emma RayfieldThe Transformative Power Of Group Analytic Psychotherapy  – Emma Rayfield explores the qualities of group psychotherapy and its ability to offer an almost seamless transition from psychotherapy into the real world. Read more…

Twitter BeginnerFor The Twitter Beginner: A Guide To What It’s All About & How To Use It  – This article is addressed to those who are still reluctant to explore Twitter and considers how practitioners of talking and holistic therapies might use it today in a worthwhile manner. Read more…