Choose a Better Perspective

As [Jesus] said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” -Luke 8:8

Dear members and friends of the Swedenborgian Church,

When someone expresses an opinion based on one’s personal experiences and understanding therefrom, we call that being subjective, while when someone expresses an opinion based on generally-observable facts and analysis thereof, we call that being objective. Being subjective is the innate and natural way of being for humans, while being objective requires intentional training, education, and mental cultivation. Probably that is why ancient sages advised that we should challenge and educate ourselves to be more objective and less subjective. Consequently, it has been believed that being objective is a way to be a more mature, conscious, and mindful human being compared to being subjective. Yet, what is at stake here is that being objective means that we are trying to break away from our innate nature and to instill an intentionally cultivated a state of reasoning which is alien to us.

How is it possible that we find overcoming our innate nature and replacing it with an intentionally cultivated nature more useful and beneficial? Perhaps our ancestors learned that in order to achieve a harmonious and cooperative community rather than a chaotic and self-interest driven community, each member needs to broaden one’s mind and to be willing to listen to ideas and reason outside one’s personal experience or understanding. It is both paradoxical and fascinating that we readily acknowledge the fact that our innate nature can be hindrance to creating a harmonious society. The ancient sages discovered this long ago and began emphasizing education! For them, education was definitely not about training the young to be useful workers for the benefit of the community, but about awakening, challenging, and training the young to be self-conscious, mindful, mature human beings.

One of the reasons why most people are hesitant and usually resistant to break out of their subjective reality is that they feel safe and secure staying within the self-created reality. In other words, breaking out of one’s subjective reality usually means jumping into unknown, uncertain, and risky territory. Plus, even if you were able to achieve objectivity after many years of hard cultivation, being objective simply does not guarantee a better or even a more pleasant life. So why bother? There are two principal benefits of being objective: 1. You will have a greater strength to control yourself, which often results in improved relationship with others and self-contentment; 2. You will have a broadened mentality capable  of understanding the reality of life and the “big picture,” which often results in calmness and tranquility. And, if you were to be a believer, you might become one of those whom Jesus is calling out by saying, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee