A few years ago I wrote a piece that has been rather widely circulated and, based on some of the comments I have seen, not too well understood. The piece is titled, “The Four Views.” Please allow me to share it with you before making any further comments. This then is the story:
Once a wise master had four students who exceeded all others in ability. One day the five gathered, and the master spoke to the first student, “Tell me what you see when you look into the world.”
“I see savagery. The planet is raped. The world hides from the truth. Contaminating material is released everywhere. There is particulate matter in the heavens and acid rain. The rain forests are being destroyed, and so is the ozone. There is such ignorance and selfishness. The world needs so much correction.”
The master replied, “You are right, and I shall call you Correction, for you by your vision have committed to a world of need.”
To his second student, the master put the same question, “Tell me what you see when you look into the world.”
The second student replied, “Master, I see futility. Nothing can be done to change the ways of the world, though some will repent and call for change. Still, the world is condemned by the acts of man. The sciences teach us that too many people are coming onto the planet, too much destruction has already been done, too little money is provided for science to adequately assist, and there is too little concern for ethics and values. Crime escalates while families decay. Law is lost.
“You too are right, and I shall call you Righteous, for your indignation beholds a corrupt world beyond repair while your heart suffers its pain. You shall be known for your words, and your works will express the sadness of your heart.”
The master turned his gaze to the third student. “And you, what do you see?”
“I see a world needing the restoration of Law. I do not believe hope is lost. I find encouragement in the words of my brothers, for they too recognize the need the world has for a change of ways. It is with confidence that I sense the willingness of man to change. All good government is government of the people and for the people. It is through law and government that change can be effected. The masses will follow the right action and attitude of government. The agent for change exists and is law and government.”
“You also are right. I shall call you Government, for your words forge your observations and become what you teach. You will therefore be committed to a work of law and order through government.”
Finally, to the fourth student, the master put the same question, “And what do you see?”
“Master, I behold only miracles. Life is a miracle. All being is a miracle. Consciousness is a miracle. I behold God in all creation. I sense the beauty of Love in the fragrance of the flower, in the smile of a child, in the warmth of lovers, in the glow of the stars. When I look onto the world, I am greeted with its mysteries. It is with awe and reverence that each day unfolds its beauty. I know that all things are good and that each expresses their good in their own appropriate manner for the moment. I know that which my brothers speak about is but illusion, for only the eternal is real. I will give no power to thoughts of scarcity, of limitation, of need, for all that is truly needed is here for us to behold, to recognize, and to accept. I wish only to give to the world the sight I have been given. For with these modest eyes and senses, my heart is quickened by the glory of being.”
The master smiled before he spoke. “And you, my chosen student, I will call Truth, for your vision is of Truth, and its reward is the reality it sees. You shall go unto man and teach from what you see, for yours is the vision of what is, and all that is possible rests in this peace. You shall be known by all men by your garments of serenity and peace.”
The master, speaking to all, added these words, “To each of you is the blessing of your vision. As you see the world, so the world reveals itself to you. You will know the world by your vision of it. To each of you will go the works of your sight. You will experience life according to your vision.”
Not only is our reality a matter of choice, but so is the power we give it. Only the eternal is incorruptible. Only the eternal is therefore true. All else is inherently false by definition. To be a master, one must begin by acting like a master. To grow, we must give. The old saying, “You cannot receive if the cup is full” is absolutely true of the human condition. As we sow, so do we reap.
Think about this story for a moment. What does it mean to you? Think about our world. Are there people starving in the world? Are mass atrocities still happening in various locations? Are innocent folks dying unnecessarily? Are women being raped and abused and children discarded or even worse, trained to be perpetrators of hate themselves? If your answer is yes, then clearly this awareness is honest and real.
Now, think about it all this way. If you turn away from the news, ignore the media all together, and live in some safe community somewhere in the world, then it might be easy to think that everything is only peace, balance and harmony. After all, you have everything you need — food, shelter, a warm bed to sleep in and time to enjoy it all. This willful blindness to the world around you does afford many benefits, but is it real?
The question of “real” comes down to what you define as your purpose for living. Is life about personal security and safety to you? Is your spiritual quest divorced from the suffering of others? That is, can you genuinely ascend to your spiritual heights by closing off the world, locking yourself in the closet so to speak?
The fact is, all four views are valid. They address the world we live in differently. I suspect that since we have typically been conditioned to expect a multiple choice format whenever more than one possibility is present, that this explains why so many jump to the conclusion that the fourth view is the so-called correct answer. On the other hand, it could be that the reader is desirous of approval and therefore chooses the option the master praises.
We live in a world of duality, and that’s an understatement, since there are so many shades of gray that display themselves between extremes. Buddha addressed this duality with the middle path, the Hebrew people sought rectification of opposites via the middle pillar, and the Taoist with yin and yang. Indeed, every extant religious system addresses the need to find a path by which the concept of duality forms a whole.
I have taught that our purpose is service. The last couple of lines in the Four Views makes this clear. To grow, we must give! How on earth can you help others if you have turned the world off? The fact is, the story of the four views is really a challenge directed at prompting you to forge your own reconciliation.
The word Israelite has been loosely translated to mean, “One who wrestles with God,” just as Jacob did according to the Torah. Wrestling with how we live as spiritual beings regardless of our spiritual affiliation or beliefs, is the real challenge of lifetimes. Alone in a cave somewhere without any contact with the real world may offer a path but it is not the path most of us stride upon everyday, nor is it the one that will elevate our understanding or compassion. There is no possibility of personal growth without looking at the whole picture, and that’s the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.
Thanks for the read,
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions
P.S. “The Four Views” originally appeared in my book, “Mind Programming.”