If genius is the art of being fully conscious of reality in the midst of daily life, then an essential step towards perfecting this art is learning how to master perspective.
Most people are the opposite. They are slaves to perspective. They allow themselves to become trapped within a limited range of perspectives, which closes their minds to everything else. Setting up home in these perspectives, they feel compelled to defend them vigorously, even violently. What makes their situation so comical is that the perspectives they cherish are not even theirs to begin with. They did not arrive at them independently through a conscious process of logic that has been thoroughly grounded in ultimate reality. They simply accepted them second-hand from others – from their peers, from their culture, from their tradition.
A person might be born in the deep south of America and thus grow up to be a fervent, bible-bashing Christian, yet if he were born in Pakistan he would be directing the same fervour towards Islam. He did not choose to be born in a region of Christian fundamentalism, anymore than a Pakistani chooses to be born in an Islamic state. Yet they both vigorously promote their respective values and beliefs with a blind fervour, oblivious to the absurdity of their own situation. Each of them have passively allowed their lives to be shaped and determined by the mere roll of a dice. They are but empty clones of one another. The fact that they both hate each other only serves to make the whole thing even more comical.
This madness is everywhere you look. I watched a football match recently between Croatia and Spain and the thing that strikes you about international football is the naked patriotism on display, from both the players and the crowd. You look at the singing, chanting and flag-waving and it is obvious that each set of supporters thinks their nation (their culture, their people, their ego) is the greatest nation of all. They have all bought into this perspective and emotionally invested in it. And yet each of these supporters could have justÂ as easily been cheering on the opposing nation had chance rolled the dice differently. The arbitrary nature of their birth and the absurdity of their passive acceptance of this either escapes them completely, or else they are too wrapped up in the emotional pleasure contained within their limited perspective to care.
It is not just a matter of where you are born, but when. A lot of college students nowadays naturally believe in the supremacy of science and have absorbed the popular nihilistic belief that truth can never be known, that everything is uncertain. They are quick to sneer at religious people for their belief in irrational superstition. Yet if these same college students were born 1000 years ago, they would have just as naturally believed in the supremacy of the Church and the doctrines of orthodox Christianity, and they would have been sneering at pagans instead. Their mindless acceptance of the dominant cultural myths of the 21st century makes them just as ignorant and irrational as the medieval Christians of old.
When I was in my teens and early twenties, I used to be astonished at how accepting and submissive my peers were. Just the fact that they were so obsessed with women, and therefore obsessed with the business of making money and appearing powerful and cool, was a puzzle to me. I would say to them, â€śDoesnâ€™t the fact that you submit so easily to your genetic programming bother you? Surely there is more to life than living like a standard, pre-programmed robot!” Most of them would laugh and think I was crazy. But to me, they seemed unimaginative and meek.
It is hard to believe that here we are in the 21st century, with all of the technological sophistication around us,Â and people everywhere are still happy to play lottery with their lives and allow chance to completely dictate their beliefs, values, perception, knowledge and experiences.Â Â It is even harder to believe that mostÂ of them areÂ oblivious toÂ this madness.Â But I suppose I should cut a little slack. After all, the human race has barely emerged from the Middle Ages. Or more to the point, we have barely come down from the trees.
People tend to have very low standards concerning what it means to be intellectually independent. It is not enough to simply reject the beliefs and values of oneâ€™s culture and adopt another set of beliefs and values. That is merely trading one perspective for another, which means that your life is still being ruled by the roll of a dice. For example, if the person in the American deep south were to reject fundamentalist Christianity and embrace Islam, or if he were to embrace science and become an agnostic, either way he is still allowing chance to determine his understanding of things and the course of his life. These chance factors might include what his genetic make-up happens to be, what people he happens to meet, what books he happens to read, what experiences he happens to have, what kind of intellectual theories happen to exist in the world, what parts of his brain happen to fire up in any given moment, etc – all of these things play a role in determining what belief-system he happens to find pleasing. Despite making the movement from a traditional mindset to a more individual one, the core madness in his life remains.
If you want to give full expression to your genius and become truly sane, then you must go all the way and completely eliminate the role of chance from your life, and this can only be achieved by pushing the mind beyond all perspective. And to do this, you must learn to become emotionally free of all perspectives.
In some peopleâ€™s eyes, Mother Teresa was a saintly woman who helped the poor. To others, she was a cunning fanatic trapped within a fantasy. From yet another perspective, she was just another Albanian. Or just another human making up the numbers in society. Or just another animal exploiting a niche in the natural world. Or just another biological machine, comprised of fluids, chemicals and electrical impulses. Or just another manifestation of reality, essentially no different from the mountains, trees and clouds. The wrinkling around her eyes, the warmth of her personality, the slight stoop in her posture, the little moles on her skin, the saliva forming in her mouth – these too are all manifestations of reality, essentially no different from the mountains, trees and clouds. The genius is able to entertain all these different perspectives with ease and can flit in and out of them at will. Ordinary people, on the other hand, tend to be emotionally bound to one or two of them and have extreme trouble seeing anything beyond.
The genius is free because he succeeds in leaving behind all finite, limited, relative, human-centered perspectives and uses his mind to embrace Nature as a whole – that is to say, the totality of all there is. The All. He is free because his mind is open to the boundlessness of the â€śabsolute perspectiveâ€ť. Or to put it poetically, he is free because he sees everything through the eyes of God.
The â€śabsolute perspective” is itself a poetic expression. Strictly speaking, it is a contradiction in terms and falls into the same category as the square circle, as a perspective is always relative by nature. In a less literal sense, however, the term refers to the vision and understanding which arises when every shred of relativism is mentally eliminated. Due to the flexible nature of our conceptualizing minds, we have the ability to abstract our attention away from all relative positions, from all perspectives, enabling us to understand the world in an absolute sense. This is a critical skill in being able to perceive the fundamental nature of reality.
To illustrate this, let us consider the size of an object. Mount Fuji, for example, seems enormous from our perspective as human beings, but to the earth as a whole it is a barely noticeable pimple. What size it has depends on your perspective. If you mentally take away all possible perspectives, then Mount Fuji cannot be said to have any size. From the absolute perspective, it is sizeless.
For the same reason, the Universe as a whole (i.e. the Totality, the All) is sizeless. Not in the sense that it is infinitely small, but rather that the quality of size cannot be applied to it. Without the introduction of a relative viewpoint of some kind, size has no meaning. And so ultimately, the Universe is neither infinitely big, nor infinitely small, nor any size in between.
This principle can be applied in countless other ways. For example, not only is the Universe timeless (for the same reasons as above), but it is purposeless as well. A purpose always involves the perception that there is a deficiency in the world which needs to be rectified, and perceptions of deficiency are always relative in nature. From a farmerâ€™s point of view, a bacteria-infected tree is a problem that needs to be solved, but to the bacteria themselves it is an occasion to be celebrated. If we take away all the relativism associated with perspective, then we also take away all purpose.
The same reasoning applies to existence itself. The relative nature of perspective effectively reduces everything to the status of a mirage. A mirage is something that only appears to exist from certain perspectives and disappears when viewed from other perspectives. When a dying man in a desert spies a lake in the distance only to find nothing there when he crawls closer, he realizes through a change of perspective that he has been taken in by a mirage. In a similar way, if a person believes that Mount Fuji is really what it appears to him to be – namely, a large, solid, immoveable object – then he has also been taken in by a mirage. If he were to adopt another perspective, one that was sufficiently different, he would realize that the mountain was nothing more than a temporary appearance that occurred in the past.Â From the perspective ofÂ a local atom, for example, the solid mountainÂ gives way to a vast realm of empty space with only the occasional appearance of other atoms to interrupt the monotony.
In any case, the point of all these examples is to illustrate how the absolute perspective is not really a perspective as such, but an understanding that comes into being when all relativism is mentally eliminated. Its chief value is the equalization of everything that exists. When you truly see that reality is utterly everything, when you see that all things – i.e. all people, all events, all objects, all dimensions, all thoughts, all emotions, all states of mind, all mystical experiences, all gods, etc – are direct manifestations of reality, all of them lacking inherent existence and thus all of them equal in status, then you have reached the absolute perspective. It is the absolute perspective because, having embraced everything and yet rejecting everything, there is nowhere further to go.
Genius is the art of never slipping into existence. It is the capacity to never be taken in by any experience or appearance or perception, not even for a split second.Â Â This is where skill in mastering perspective comes into play. If you find yourself becoming emotional for any reason, or if you areÂ burdened with fears and worries, then it means that you are no longer the master. You have been taken in and now you are fighting against mirages. You have become a slave to perspective.
There is an ethical side to this issue as well. The more you become a slave to perspective, the more you entrench yourself in a particular viewpoint and seek your emotional happiness and security within it, the more you create the conditions for violence and suffering to occur. We can see this in the way that supporting a football team can quickly lead to fan violence, patriotism can quickly lead to war, and love can quickly lead to jealousy and domestic violence.
People often like to say, â€śWe are free to do what we want, as long as we donâ€™t hurt anyoneâ€ť, yet their lives are filled with emotional attachments which contain the seeds for future violence. They might not throw the fists or pull the trigger directly, but their lives nonetheless promote a grasping mentality which always has destructive consequences. This is yet another reason why people do not want to be too conscious of reality. Their freedom to live as they please relies on them remaining blind to the nature of their actions. In reality, their motto is, â€śWe are free to do what we want as long as we can get away with it, and everyone else can go to hell!â€ť
It might be argued that if people were not slaves to perspective, if they did not devote themselves wholeheartedly to a particular finite cause, then very little in the world would get done. For example, the progress of science would slow up considerably, and possibly grind to a halt, if there werenâ€™t at least some people fully applying themselves to research. While this may be true, it should also be noted that there would be far less violence, insanity and misery in the world as well, for people would be far less defensive about their particular perspectives. As such, the question needs to be asked: Is having flashy mobile phones, sports cars and super-fast internet really worth the overload of violence and madness that comes with them?
I would much rather people begin their adult lives learning to free themselves from all perspectives and tuning into the Infinite before deciding how to behave in the world. â€śSeek first the Kingdom of God”, as Jesus urged. Make every effort to exit the world of conditioning and chance, find the tremendous freedom of nirvana which is your birthright, and then come back into the world on your own terms minus any baggage. Then you can decide how best to contribute to society. You might decide to pursue scientific research, or become involved in social reform, or perhaps even write a philosophic blog. But whatever you decide to do, at least you will be doing it in a conscious, rational manner, and you wonâ€™t simply be adding to the misery and ignorance that already exists in the world.