The Parable of the Bus
May 20, 2020
Learning
June 3, 2020

Shifting Perspectives

Photo by Ivan Obolensky

How we think changes the world we see.

Let us take two diametrically opposite views of the world.

The first is the causal view. For example, if we want to eat tomorrow, we must work today. In short, to have something happen, we must act to make that particular want happen. Almost every self-help book, whether about health, business, or even weight loss, advocates a series of steps or procedures to be implemented to cause the desired result.

Such a plan is based on certain assumptions. First is that the plan, if executed, will work. The second is the logical and scientific assumption that effect B is the result of cause A. For example, excess weight is the result of poor diet and eating too many calories. By handling the cause, the effect will either be mitigated or enhanced.

An opposite point of view is that the world offers opportunities, whether by chance or through our expectations. This point of view could be characterized by the idea that B, the result we want, comes about by letting events take their course and that B will appear, given time. This might be considered a probabilistic approach to life.

Which method is better?

Comparing the feeding behavior of a typical spider and a dragonfly, one observes that nature successfully uses both. The spider waits for dinner to show up, and the dragonfly hunts it down.

In more general terms, the causal interpretation uses exclusion to focus on what is wanted, and as a result what we focus on becomes the world we see. The world outside our attention becomes a backdrop upon which disrelated events take place.

In the second, there is no focus. There is waiting and observation. Patience and the husbanding of resources is necessary until the right opportunity presents itself. The world is no longer a backdrop. It is the focus.

Brilliance is knowing which method to adopt when.

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