Do you believe that “reality” may be something outside of yourself? We often hear reference made to the “real world out there.” To be sure, there can be a world beyond our own personal reality—an outer world that may have an appearance and distinction of its own. However, another world, an inner one, may be much more real. This is the place where your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings reside. This inner world may be less tangible and less solid than the outer world, yet this is the true place of livingness. Your happiness, peace of mind, and enjoyment of work, friends, and loved ones often depends more on this inner world than on the outer one.
Some would say that the world within can be simply a reflection of the outer world—that the outer world presents the true reality, whereas personal perceptions, thoughts, and feelings can be the effect of outer conditions. (After all, when we’re unhappy, don’t we often try to change the external conditions of our lives first?) Yet, it may be possible that our inner world can quite capably reflect a strength that is independent of outer circumstances.
Two people could have similar external circumstances and have very different internal experiences. Suppose, for example, two men were given the task of speaking before a large audience. Mr. Smith may enjoy speaking in public, and the experience can be a most pleasant one for him. Mr. Jones, on the other hand, may be extremely fearful of public speaking and find the experience a harrowing test of willpower. Both men share a similar reality, but their internal realities may be far removed from each other. To cite another example, two youngsters may jump into a pool of deep water. While one enjoys a wonderful swim, the other may be terrified of drowning. The pool of water is the same, but the experience of the two individuals may be vastly different.
A dozen people could carefully study a lovely panoramic view and then draw or paint a picture of it, and the result may reveal a dozen different pictures with striking differences of detail. Each person is seeing the scene that appears before him with eyes that may be basically the same in physical anatomical structure. However, each person can bring a preconditioning of consciousness that may be unique to him. An unhappy person may see things that tend to justify his unhappiness. The pessimist may see discouraging signs wherever he looks. The positive person usually seeks to find the good in a situation. And the honest person can find the truth in the situation at hand and create his own reality.
An interesting story comes out of the lore of the island of Java. A young man spied a beautiful girl on the highroad and followed her for a mile. Finally, she turned and demanded, “Why do you dog my footsteps?”
He declared feverishly, “Because you are the loveliest thing I have ever seen, and I have fallen madly in love with you at sight. Be mine!”
The girl replied, “But you have merely to look behind you to see my younger sister, who is ten times more beautiful that I am.” The gallant swain wheeled about, and his gaze fell on as homely a girl as could be found in Java. “What mockery is this?” he demanded of the girl. “You lied to me!” “So did you,” she replied. “If you were so madly in love with me, why did you turn around?”
We may have lived many years believing that experiencing happiness and peace of mind can result from changing our outer world. Happiness is an inside job. Outer changes alone may not make us happy.
It may help to remember that we have far more control over our inner world than our outer world. Not to say that changing our inner world can be necessarily easy. We may have developed thinking and feeling patterns or belief systems that are deeply ingrained. Change may not always be easy, but it can be accomplished. Examining our beliefs and attitudes and observing our thoughts and feelings can be a place to begin. Change often starts to happen when we recognize false beliefs and make an effort to bring them in line with reality; when we recognize negative thoughts and choose not to listen to them; and when we recognize negative feelings and choose to give them no power over us. We have the power to create our own reality by choosing thoughts and beliefs that are positive and true. So, in truth, you do create your own reality, your inner reality, the only reality in which you truly live.
We are essentially spiritual beings. Our world is essentially a spiritual world, and the underlying controlling forces may be identified as spiritual laws. When we “fall in love” with this spiritual essence or establish our spiritual unity with it, when we begin to recognize that this is a good world and that the people in it have innate goodness within, then perhaps we may be seeing with the “eyes of spirit.” We can see goodness in all people, and we can draw goodness from them.