Challenging Your Perspective For Spiritual Growth

Do you ever wonder why spiritual masters seem to love contradictions? Do you use this to your advantage to grow spiritually?

Table of Contents

Why Is Perspective Important?

Our perspective is the way we view reality.

All spiritual growth comes first from SEEING the truth as-it-is.

If our perspective isn't clear, or is looking in the wrong direction, we can't grow.

For example, if someone wanted to drive to a large city, but their perspective is to look straight up at the sky, they'll have a very difficult time traveling.

Another example is someone who's never seen a mobile phone before - their perspective is it's a magic box.  They see you use it to call someone, and they think that either the other person is in the phone, or that they should be able to talk to anyone too.  Imagine them clicking around in all the apps, and never understanding the "magic" perspective of using the address book and pressing the call button.

These examples are a lot like why spiritual growth can be difficult.  We start from a perspective that doesn't help us towards our goal.

Without someone (or a teaching) who gives us the right perspective, we'll spend all our time traveling looking straight up, running into every obstacle and heading the wrong direction.

Like tapping on the "mobile apps" of spirituality and wondering why sometimes something happens, but most of the time seemingly random and confusing things happen.

If you read the teachings of the old masters, or perhaps are able to work with one today, you'll find they are always challenging their student's perspectives.

Here's an example.

Does the water move in the middle of a solid block of ice?

Well, both "no," and "yes."

"No" - The water molecules aren't moving.  That's the definition of ice, when the water molecules are frozen.

"Yes" - But inside the hydrogen and oxygen atoms, the electrons are busy flying around in their orbits (just to name one example).

It all depends on your perspective, from which level of existence you're looking at the question.

Side note: (almost) all true perspectives will have opposites which are both true.  They will be both "yes" and "no" all the time.

Next up, let's look at how spiritual masters use conflicting ideas to help students spiritually grow.

Masters of Conflict

When working with a master you may find they often say things (intentionally) that don't seem true to you.

They pick one side of those opposites and don't move from it.  It will always be the opposite side from the student's default view.

No matter how much the student hammers on what the master is saying, the master never wavers, instead, saying more and more confusing things.

They do this to change the student's perspective.  Doing so, they give the student a puzzle to think about.

They want the student to think "how can it be true that what I know is true is ______ but the master keeps saying _______, which is the opposite?"

Typical conversations look like this, using the example of block of ice:

Student: The ice isn't moving!
Master: It's moving!
Student: But the definition in the dictionary says "frozen is the state of no movement!"
Master: Why do you read the dictionary when it makes you so stupid? (the old masters were especially like this, really beating on the student's ego)
Student: It's not stupid, you can see from scientific tests....
Master: What I'm telling you is more science than the science you use!
Student: But you can see with your own eyes, this water in this glass is moving, but this ice is not!
Master: It's moving just as much as it ever did as water, and even as vapor!

They're both right.  But the difference is, the teacher knows both perspectives, the student is stuck with only one.

Lao Tzu wrote about this process:

The Master leads
By emptying people's minds and
Filling their cores,

By weakening their ambition
And toughening their resolve.

He helps people lose everything they know
Everything they desire
And creates confusion
In those who think they know.

- Lao Tzu

When you read the old masters, you'll see times when they make their perspective difference more and more drastic, intentionally to be more and more confusing to the student ("is more science than your science," "it's moving just as much as when it was water and when it was vapor").

This is to "empty the minds" of the student.  The student has to learn to give up their own concepts.  As long as they believe their one and only perspective is "the truth" they are stopped from seeing any other perspective.

SEEING is the way you spiritually mature, therefore your PERSPECTIVE is the key to unlocking your growth.

Once the student has a breakthrough, and they see things from a different perspective (I call this "enlightenment," which happens many times on the path of spirituality), they willingly empty their minds - that is, they continue to operate by their current beliefs, but will easily replace them when something better comes along.

The master doesn't leave the student with an empty mind though.  They also toughen their resolve (Lao Tzu).

This is done by helping them develop patience.  Patience is developed both by working (aka waiting) through life's problems, as well as by being willing to live with the "don't know mind" while they wait on enlightenment to come.

Now let's look at specific ways to shift your perspective so you can spiritually grow.

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