I see the cow. I must be having an especially tough week.
And as the comedian and actress Lily Tomlin tells us, "Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it."
But how many of us get truly bent out of our frames when what's in front of us doesn't match what we think "should" be there?
Yes, we stress. And nearly everyone I've shown the photo to also sees the cow! Is reality the true cause of our stress, though? Or is there something amiss in how we're perceiving things?
Also, how many of us keep as wide a berth as possible between our consciousness and actual reality?
I remember giving a talk about human defense mechanisms to some psychiatric residents one time. We humans have many [often unconscious] ways to twist, turn, and sanitize reality so that we can stand it. On that day we were exploring our repertoire.
In the middle of the discussion, one of the residents raised his hand and asked, "What's wrong with reality? Why can't we just let it be what it is?"
What a wonderful observation, since these 14 words express a basic problem of the entire human race! At the time I simply answered, "Well, it would be too painful otherwise."
The idea is that our unconscious defenses try to make life easier for us, but they actually complicate it. Psychotherapy helps us learn about our own personal coping styles, see reality more clearly, and deal with it more effectively. Hopefully, this also lessens the fear and anxiety many of us live with.
Years later I learned that in Ho'oponopono also, the cause of our stress is indeed our perceptions -- skewed as they are by memories and stories ingrained in us.
Each of us comes into the world with certain stories wrapped around us. After all, our parents and their families had ideas, feelings, hopes, opinions and maybe even dreams about what we'd be like. Life only gets more complex from there, as these stories permeate us and we also develop aspects of our own!
Ho'oponopono holds that humans can't help but have distorted views: it's part of our nature. The bigger the gap between what we experience and what's actually present, the bigger the "stress". Sometimes we live our lives completely in a delusional dream (or "daymare").
There are consequences to such distortions and resultant stress, along with our attempts to avoid or re-do what is.
Medical science has a whole literature on stress and health, and the "mind-body connection" is in popular lingo. My professional life involves helping people gradually discover their own misperceptions*, and how this unique state expresses in their bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits. Homeopathic remedies help disperse the turmoil this causes, allowing people (and animals too!) more freedom to be themselves.
It's no coincidence that Morrnah Simeona wrote about "thought forms" such as anger, addiction, and fear proceeding from less concentrated, "etheric" levels into more consolidated physical ones. She taught that cleaning through Ho'oponopono could interrupt this process and allow the thought forms (memories, data) to be transmuted. In this way, even physical illness could be dissipated.
My friend Jimmy Piver has been writing a lot lately about The Work of Byron Katie, whose pithy questions help us untangle our perceptions. Her processes work hand-in-hand with Ho'oponopono, and people seem to arrive at similar places of peace and acceptance with each.
However, with the updated form of Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono we don't have to track down each distortion. All we apparently need to to is initiate the Ho'oponopono process of making things right. In this we choose to accept responsibility for our experiences. Then we say to Divinity, "I'm sorry. I don't know what's going on within me that this is showing up in my reality, but please forgive me. Thank you for showing me it was there, so I can let it go. I love you."
If we're seeing others or situations as anything other than perfect as they are, we're arguing with reality.
In Byron Katie's work, people progress to deeper and deeper inquiry about their own misperceptions; in the long run they end up with less of these and more acceptance of life. The title of her first book, "Loving What Is" expresses this perfectly.
Ho'oponopono helps us live more peacefully also, even when those cows are jumping alongside dolphins. :-)
Peace Begins with Me,
*PS: doctors have misperceptions too . . . and thank heavens we can do Ho'oponopono, do Byron Katie's Work, have therapists and homeopaths of our own, or have kids. Kids can be great teachers about this.