I love that quote.
I heard it a long time ago. Unfortunately I don’t remember who said it. I think it could be from Alan Watts, but don’t quote me. If anyone knows, reach out to me or let me know in the comments.
“If a hungry man walks down a high street, all he sees are restaurants.”Some Other Hermit
Essentially, what that means is that the world reflects the energy we send out. It acts like a mirror.
It’s a confirmation bias, where you tend to notice things that confirm your beliefs. We’ve all experienced the “same car” phenomena, where you buy yourself a new car and then it seems like every third car you pass is the same as yours.
Of course that’s not actually true, but because you have an intimate connection and familiarity with your car, similar cars tend to stand out and become more prominent. Your mind ignores the fact that you just passed 100 other cars that you didn’t have a connection with.
If your best friend was walking down a busy street towards you, you’d be able to spot them and pick them out of the sea of faces really quickly. It’s not that you don’t identify any other people, it’s just that your mind recognizes that you’ve had past interactions with them. It has a reference point. It found them in the database.
Your mind is really good at this and does it so fast, you don’t even consciously notice it. But it’s a totally passive activity. You don’t go, “I’m going to keep track how many cars I see that are like mine”. Or, “I’m going to look for my friend Bob in this crowd of people.”
In the case of our hungry man, he’s not looking for a restaurant because of a past experience or intimate connection with restaurants. It’s being triggered by the physical symptoms of being hungry. Stomach growling etc. But the mind is using the same mechanism to draw your attention.
If you’ve followed my “Meditation Boot Camp“, you’ll remember that the mind is really good at solving problems. I’m not going to argue the point as to whether being hungry is a problem or not, but to your mind it is.
So your mind feels the physical sensation of being hungry and makes it a problem that needs solving. The more your stomach growls, the more attention your mind gives it until you get to the point where it needs solving now.
That’s the point when your mind starts to highlight restaurants to you. Just like identifying your friend or a similar car to yours. It subconsciously starts to draw your attention to the things that will solve your hunger problem.
It’s like your mind is projecting your hunger on to the world around it and the answer is being reflected right back at you.
Your mind will also identify things or people that are close to your own egoic identity. Your lifestyle. Your morals. Your clothing etc. Because those are things you are intimately familiar with, they really stand out.
Here’s another driving analogy. I perceive myself to be a really good driver. Whether that’s true or not, my ego identifies my driving ability as being good. Before my awakening, I had the opinion that everyone else was a bad driver. Downright dangerous.
So whenever I drove, subconsciously my mind was looking for bad drivers. And guess what? It would find them and tell me about them. It would give me the same, “that’s my car”, experience. Every third car is the same as mine.
My experience driving, reinforced my beliefs. Every third driver was bad. Even if they’d just driven 1000 miles without doing anything wrong. As soon as they wobbled a little too close to the center line in front of me, my mind would accuse them of being an idiotic, dangerous driver.
If you’ve ever experienced this yourself, then why not try this little experiment.
Each time you jump in the car. Before you start the engine, tell yourself, “I’m looking forward to this drive. Everyone is such a good driver.”
You may be surprised to see that your mind will notice “good drivers.” You’ll finish the drive feeling like everyone is good. You’ll still “see” examples of “bad driving” but your mind doesn’t see it as a problem anymore and it won’t seem as prominent.
Now, unless you do that consciously, you’ll still get the odd person that will just cause that reaction you had previously to bad driving. But you may find you can spot your minds reaction sooner and just ignore the feeling to judge them or criticize them.
Or if that little voice in your head does still end up judging the other driver, you may end up “observing” the rise of the emotion and “witnessing” the mind. Not becoming the mind but just observing the story the mind is trying to drag you into. That is very revealing and can be very liberating in itself.
And if you find it difficult to change your programming by trying to look for something different, you also just have to remind yourself that they may just have driven 1000 miles perfectly. They may be racing to the hospital to see a loved one. They may be late to the most important job interview in their life and are making up for lost time changing a flat tire.
Or they could just be a bad driver 🙂
The world reflects what we believe. A thief expects everyone else to be trying to steal their stuff. If you think the world is a dangerous place, you will see dangers in the world.
Have you ever noticed how a liar doesn’t trust other people?
Now here’s the interesting thing. You can easily reprogram yourself to look for positive things in the world.
Look for people to be kind and you will see kind people.Gentle Hermit
Look for people helping each other and you will see a world where people care about one another.
Look for good drivers. You will find good drivers.
Look for the world to be nice and you may just find the world to be a pleasant place.
Love everything and you will receive a lot of love back.
Events & Workshops
August 26 – Mindfulness & Unconditional Love - Denville Senior Citizens Center
August 27 – How to Silence Your Mind