Perspective, generally, consists of the limitations of our belief systems, through which any and every experience is understood. Perspective limits experience by defining it, but we cannot experience anything without some perspective through which to make sense of it. Thus there are no absolutes, no “real truth” or anything of that sort. However, that doesn’t mean that perspectives are somehow bad. It’s how you use them that counts: because your perspective shapes you and your world. If you control your perspective, you control your experience too.
How do we really know if our perspective is working for us? There are some clues to be had in our emotions — because emotions are to our consciousness what sensation is to our bodies; a way to judge how we are doing. But trying to simply conjure up the perspective of “feeling good” or “happiness” rings rather hollow. That’s why all those well-meaning instructions about the power of positive thinking haven’t helped you yet: you want more than to just feel good, don’t you?
There are four main perspectives to see things from. These four perspectives represent four different states of being. If you analyze your decisions, your desires, your values, and your goals through these four perspectives, you can look for trends or flaws in your thinking. Because the perspective you carry with you now should be a balance of these four states of being: the four perspectives ought to be held simultaneously as lenses through which to analyze your experiences.
The Four States of Being
- Physical Existence. This is the state we feel we are “naturally born into” but it isn’t the whole story. It is the physical experience of the body and what we sense by its physical sensory apparatus. This is a perspective that tells you to tend to your body, your comfort, your health needs, and avoid injury or death. If you stop here and only perceive life physically, you will likely be selfish — wanting only your own comfort, unless benefiting others also benefits yourself. Instant gratification tends to be the rule here.
- Consciousness or Spiritual Existence. This is the state of the thinking mind. From this perspective, the body is not all-important, and the needs of the present moment must be tempered by the possibilities of the future. From this perspective, you may feel “ungrounded” or fail to tend to responsibilities that your body or society demands you fulfill. Spirit is not limited by space the way that physical being is; so it sees past what is manifest and possesses the power of imagination. Imagination gives us hopes, goals, and fears, as well as allowing us to worry about how we’re being judged or perceived by others.
- Infinite Self/Higher Self/Authentic Self Existence. This state is imagined by the mind by removing the limits of both time and space from the self. The self then exists all-at-once and does not “need” anything — it is complete, has access to all the learning spirit could do given infinite time, and thus has abstracted wisdom from these infinite experiences. This imagined state provides a unique perspective: what would you desire in life if you had already experienced all there was? What does your authentic self value? What does your authentic self believe? The perspective of the authentic, infinite self allows us to see past the limits of society, the present moment, and everything we think we value, and get down to what the self is all about.
- Infinite Being Existence. This state is imagined by removing the limit of separation between self and other, as well as the previous limits of space and time. All that can exist, does exist, and is united in a single, whole perspective. This perspective helps us see beyond the self and understand that “self” and “other” are just limitations we’ve defined, through which to understand our world. Self and other need not be separate, and this creates the fundamental value of compassion, balancing the purely physical self’s egoic desires and fears with an outlook that values the entire system in which you live.
The four main states of being offer us ways to look at any situation or decision to be made, and examine it from four different perspectives. A belief or choice should hold true in each perspective. For instance, if you want to do something that will hurt others, you will quickly realize that this conflicts with the “Infinite Being” perspective, and then you can use the other perspectives to question why you thought you really wanted to do such a thing.
Also, if you feel “stuck” not knowing what to do with your time, you can evaluate your life through the four perspectives and find something that is fulfilling at all levels.
Your perspective is your god-like power to choose how you will experience it: but the key is to wield this power with a careful balance, satisfying all states of your being and existence.