Discovering The Human Panoramic App

The other day my wife, Coizie, and I were exploring a new trail that opened up to magnificent vistas of the sun dappled ocean and nearby islands covered with fir and cedar trees.  In the face of this beauty I dropped my mind chatter and just was mesmerized by the spectacular scene. 

It suddenly occurred to me to use an app on my iPhone called Pano.  This app allows you to take any number of photos side by side and then it will stitch them together into a single panoramic shot.  These photos were able to capture the 180-degree view in front of us the way my usual single photo couldn’t.

Later, looking at these amazing photos, I realized that humans already have this app built into them.  I like the metaphor of shifting between a single shot, very narrow view to a wide-angle, full view in our experience.

Sometimes our focus on the world in this present moment collapses in on something we are thinking about in such a way that it creates a feeling of discomfort.  We leave the present moment and our focus narrows down to the examination of a specific perceived problem in the outside world. We get caught up in thoughts that lower our spirits.  We are preoccupied.  We are dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.  Or we are trying to analyze our way to clarity or solution.

In other words, we are caught up in our personal thinking in a way that is not being truly helpful.  This thinking creates feelings of unease, struggle, uncertainty, doubt, stress, or upset.  We become wedded to our personal thinking and limited by what these thoughts allow us to see or know. We become close-minded. In this sense we are no longer open to any new thinking. 

Bring on the human panoramic app!  Realizing that these feelings are simply being created from thought wakes us out of the trance of our personal thinking and throws us back into the panoramic view of the present moment.  This reflex to let go of what we now know to be the true source to our psychological pain is built into humans!  As we wake back up to the present moment we no longer keep thinking the way we were.  We fall into a wide-open, panoramic view that immediately becomes receptive to new thinking and a broader perspective.

It is easy for all of us to forget that we have a panoramic app.  We all get caught up in our thinking and attribute our feeling to something outside of us.  But the more we catch onto this the more we seem to open back up to new possibilities.  I am grateful for those times in the day when my feeling wakes me up to the thinking I am doing that is unnecessarily narrowing my capacity for new thinking and a big picture view.

In the openness of our panoramic view we are no longer confined to the limitations of our personal thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.  We are influenced by newness and we can now be informed by possibilities.  Enjoy discovering this very human app and the breadth and beauty of its views. 

What is a calm state of mind?

Let’s start here: Calm is not merely the absence of stress and upset. People settle for that, but to settle is selling the infinite human potential short. “Well, I’m not upset and I’m not feeling totally stressed out, so I guess this is as good as it gets.”

Wrong! So very wrong! That’s only the least bad it gets.

Calm is not empty; it is full. Calm does not reflect the absence of trouble, dissatisfaction and ill will ; it reflects the presence of peace, gratitude and contentment. Calm is not a personal feeling of checking in with oneself and being OK; calm is an impersonal feeling of seeing beyond oneself and being deeply connected with all of life. Calm is not still and inactive; calm is engaged and involved in every moment. Calm is not neutral to what’s happening in life; calm is in love with life and everything in it. Calm is not quietly  indifferent; calm is unconditionally loving. Calm is not cool; calm is warm.

If we were the ocean, calm would be the deep, dynamic currents that perpetually steer the waters around the globe. If we were the colors, calm would be a gorgeous rainbow, lifting our hearts and spirits with its graceful arch. If we were the sky, calm would be the north star, faithfully guiding us no matter where we were temporarily. If we were a rolling meadow, calm would be the wildflowers, brightening and enlivening the landscape.

The most wonderful thing about a calm state of mind, though, is that we don’t have to work at it to have it. It is what we have, it is the ordinary spiritual state of human beings, but for all the thinking we do around it. Calm is simply the beautiful feeling that emerges from a mind at rest. It takes no effort whatsoever.

Calm seems ordinary to people who are at peace with the deeper logic of created experience. We use the energy of life to create forms within our own minds and become conscious of what we’ve created. When we leave that process alone to work naturally, we create calm because, basically, we are creating a flow of thoughts connected to the flow of life. We move away from calm when we engage ourselves in thinking about our own thinking and trying to “fix” things or figure ourselves out.

Sydney Banks said, “Seek without seeking, for what you hope to attain is already within you.” (The Missing Link, p. 139) That essentially simple idea offers profound hope for peace among all mankind, if only it didn’t seem “too simple” to people who are striving mightily to make themselves into what they think they should be instead of  being what they already are.

The Haunted House Inside

It is fascinating to realise that feeling good or happy has nothing to do with the outside world, our circumstances or material possessions. Feeling anything has to do with the quality of our thinking and the feelings that arise as a natural result of this simple fact. The less personal thinking we do the more mental space we have to allow our common sense and wisdom to emerge and with these arises a consistently reassuring good feeling.

The haunted house that we can all live in within our heads is just the result of an overactive imagination. Visiting the darker places of our past via thought is like going on a rather realistic ghost ride which is populated by the memories and figures of our lives.

Life, for all of us, has its ups and downs and some life events are more painful than others, and some stick more because of the suffering we associate with this time in our lives. So what are we to do? These events did happen, we cannot forget them! While this may be true, we can start to see that they ‘were’ real once, but now they are simply a memory brought back to life and made vivid by the power of our minds. We are still the thinker creating the haunting in our heads.
Understanding that past events and future anxieties come from thinking allows us to begin to free ourselves up from worrying about them so much. When we see it is coming from thought we can become more relaxed about it, knowing that it will pass.

Conversely, when we are less aware and have temporarily forgotten that it is coming from our personal thinking, we are more likely to be upset by these thoughts, and look for a cause or a solution in the world; in people and things that we have no control over at all.

This can be a temporarily painful place to live and so we might get the idea that it may be good to change our circumstances, thinking this will make us feel better, leave the past behind (and this may be necessary sometimes). Unfortunately if there is any relief at all it will only be temporary given that the haunted house is inside of us, because we are always thinking. In other words, changing our circumstances may temporarily distract us from having the old painful thoughts and feeling less haunted, but it is no guarantee that the spectres of our past will not return to haunt us another day, despite the new situation.

More often than not these thoughts are invisible to us just like a ghost, we get the feeling that there is something wrong, but we can’t put our finger on it, we just can’t see it. This is due to the fact that if we think something long enough we are not always aware or conscious that we are having those thoughts anymore, we just have the feelings that these same thoughts continue to produce.

Only remembering, becoming more aware or conscious of the nature of thought allows us to return, without effort, technique or application, to a place of beauty, peace and understanding; to an internal landscape of infinitely unfolding possibilities. Where the ghosts of the past begin to fade from memory and we begin to live with a greater sense of immediacy; noticing the magic of being aware, with all its vivid aliveness and in those delightful moments we can luxuriate in our connection to the Great Oneness.