Sunday, October 26, 2008

Behind the scenes of decision making

To continue from last week's thread [below] about impermanence and suffering, this post is about the criteria we base decisions on. And whether or not it's the real truth behind people's behaviour.

In our day-to-day lives we are always going to encounter situations where someone states something unpalatable, hurtful, or full of negativity. The initial reaction is to react! But maybe it's a good idea sometimes to stand back a bit like a tree and look for the origination of the behavior.

Timeless redwood and rhododendron in Wanaka Station Park - a challenging subject due to perspective for a landscape photographer...

While we don't have to take this examination back to a molecular level, usually if we gather some information and thoughts about the person's life we rapidly see things differently, and then when we do respond it's usually going to be somewhat modified and even moderated. There is of course an inflection point in this process when we can ask ourselves "do I want to make this person's day worse or better?" A distinct focus on breathing helps buy the time to find the one true and positive answer.

In the late 1980s I found myself doing quite a lot of serious Search and Rescue work - usually picking up bodies at high altitude. This involved very fine decision making on high mountains with helicopters, and sound planning and timing. A premise to base decisions on was taught to me irrespective of whether or not it'd been a fatal accident: "a bad situation has developed, so when approaching it ensure you don't make it worse!" Obviously this is a black and white safety related statement, but it also applies very neatly to dealing with a stressed person in everyday life - some acting outside the norm., or within their norm. It's a good centering place to start from before embarking on what's needed for a good outcome!

Simple climbing decisions being carried out at Mt Cook on deceptively steep ice: The belay/ropework seemed safe and expedient at the time, but I shudder now as I look at it. Probably in this case dehydration and altitude distorted reality...

The last serious New Zealand Search and Rescue work I did was the retrieval of the bodies of a dad and mum from a gorge near here. The first inkling that something was wrong came from their two children, [age 8 and 5] not finding anyone at home when they got out of school. This event essentially burnt me out, but taught me a lot...

These two kids were, in an ill conceived instant, deprived of their parents, and while this is bad enough, so often in life I see children, often born as a result of an ill conceived event, that needlessly have the same sort of deprivation placed on them. Often this manifests with one parent and the child being denied their rights to experience each other in the day-to-day life of parenting. It's a raw deal that could easily be negated if whichever parent or system imposed this division on them, was encouraged to stand back, observe and not attach, and examine the true origination of all relevant behaviours and apply proven enlightening techniques.

This photo to me typifies an aspect of life all around us: confused folk [fearful even] in a fog, but the photographer is outside it, and can easily see a different reality, just as you, the reader see yet another! The originating truth: members of our New Zealand Armed Forces on an alpine skills course...

I think I'll end though with a playful and sunny Hobbit like disposition in Wanaka Station park again...

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reality and impermanence

As a keen landscape photographer I've long been aware of how light in all it's various forms and flavours can shape the way we perceive reality. Now with Photoshop we have another dimension apart from how the photographer can present a scene in ways to draw attention to a particular point, or feel.

Without saying much I'll leave you to ponder what stories could be attached to this image...

... yet if I offer information such as "those rocks in the stream are among the oldest in New Zealand" then depending on your background that may, or may not change the relationship with the image.

And these rocks in Fiordland maybe nearly as old...

... yet although being the easiest example I can offer you of something that appears permanent [because of their mass and age], they are not permanent. By this I mean they're comprised of minerals, and even space between atoms, electrons or whatever. On analysis they are not what they appear to be!

Unless heat is applied rocks can be weathered to sand grains by our ancient sea...

... if we apply such thoughts to our lives, literally ourselves and the phenomena about us, we have to accept that our perception of reality is not quite what it seems, and that not one thing we perceive is permanent! It's tempting to draw the conclusion that we live in an illusion, but that's not quite the answer either.

What I see about me is a lot of suffering in the world and a lot of fear, and I can't help but believe that a lot of it comes about because we think we're permanent! Well we may or may not make grains of sand if you subscribe to a cyclic existence, but we'll make "dust" for sure at some point [which may or may not be the end point - this too depends on perspective!]. If we keep that thought in our minds, we'll find we handle day-to-day life in quite a different way and relate to others with more compassion and love, as we become more aware that an ethos of permanence is an illusion that enhances feelings of suffering [and ego]. Possessions will become less important, greed will diminish as we can't take these things with us.

Do we know the lives these people led, long ago in remote Fiordland? Yet, they probably thought their perception of "I" was important once. Apart from their names, about all we can assume is they endured a lot of moisture, and suffered the loss of a child...

When I was a young man I tended to see people and objects in life as permanent, and even got pretty immortal feeling while climbing, but my reality slowly changed, like just after this unprotected traverse near Mt Cook a spring snow avalanche swept this rock clean, just after the photo was taken, and before our very eyes...

... back then I saw the process of life as sort of permanent - this reached a peak during marriage and parenting. But the former showed it's impermanence to me in the form of divorce. Through this epiphany, and the wonder of child birth now I see literally everything in life as dynamic and shifting. Actually when I consider the fact that nothing is established in it's own right, but dependent on what cannot be identified [what is beyond particles in particle physics, will probably elude us forever, and the space between!], I'm then left with the conclusion that a lot of our reality is based on our thoughts.

If we're attached to someone or something we build up feelings that enhance them both and overlook faults. Conversely what we dislike or hate, does not seem so bad if we ask ourselves what our feelings are based on, then examine what this hate or dislike is dependent on! If we're honest with our studies we have to accept all is not as it seems, and much depends on what our attention is drawn too, in the quest to satisfying self!

The answer seems to be to detach, by taking the focus away from self, and reposition it towards helping others with love and compassion, thus letting the beauty and magic of our existence shine through in a more enlightened way...
reality400-6.jpg be continued, and with thanks to the Dalai Lama for the inspiration above

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Recent holiday: to Nelson and down the West Coast












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Saturday, October 4, 2008

An unusual sunset in Wanaka and recycling

Two evenings ago I looked out the window... grabbed my camera and was off in the truck. It's one thing to see some unusual clouds, but quite another to find a fitting foreground for a competent landscape photo of same!

That's Wanaka's Mt Iron to the left underneath some amazing clouds - they do have a name, this type, but it escapes me for now...

This morning I gathered up lots of old computers and components and took them to the recycling depot, where eDay is being celebrated. I was amazed at the half a container load of old gear gathered just from Wanaka already. It was scary. It seems it's headed to Asia for sorting and recycling. I did a quick add up of the initial cost of what I dumped off and arrived at about $K20 - now it's valueless!


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