Yoga in Focus: Lenses, Filters and Seeing Clearly

September 20, 2010 By: Michael E. Crowley Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit

I had a very metaphysical Thursday this week.  My wife and I had a lunch date in a park overlooking Lake Union during a rare bout of sunshine, and I was talking fairly lucidly about lenses and filters as metaphors for systems of thought and belief.   Our context was a recent news story about a private religious school who had invited and then disinvited a popular band based on their name.  “Steve”, I think it was.  

The goal of the college was to “engage the culture” as seen through the lens of its particular belief system.  I thought that this was sadly limiting and was trying to find a way of making my point clear to my wife.

Looking beyond my wife out of the driver’s side window, I saw a large green leafy plant next to the car, which served as a great jumping off point.  If, I said to my wife, I am simply standing there staring at this plant, I will be able to experience the plant as it appears at that moment.

On the other hand, if I’m using a camera to take a picture of the plant, there is an artificial device between me and the plant that is shaping the plant’s image according to its physical limitations (aperture size, diameter, curvature, etc.).  I can alter or manipulate the image in ways that please or displease me, but I will be having a different experience with a different object – a photograph, not the subject of the photograph.

Living, I concluded, is about experiencing things as they truly are.  The need for clear sight is obvious, but rather than putting on more filters or searching for a new and better lens, perhaps what we need to do is remove those lenses and filters that distort our vision in the first place.

She began feeding me a delicious cinnamon roll from a wonderful bakery she’d been to on her way to meet me, so I can only hope she agreed.

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