You can’t write well when the sun is shining on your laptop screen; the glare prevents you from seeing the words.
This phrase popped into my head as a little writing exercise. I was observing something I’d seen before on many occasions: direct sunlight tends to make a computer screen hard to see. The observation provided a mental stepping stone to another concept that we haven’t talked about much on Thoughtwrestling, yet I would consider it to be one of the most important attributes of the thoughtwrestler: clear seeing.
The Tibetians have a term that they use for clear seeing: prajna. It’s not a term that you’ll see very often in Western culture. It’s often used to refer to wisdom or that ability to see and understand the world as it really is.
Here are two recent examples of the use of prajna that I’ve come across this year:
Seth Godin used the term prajna in his book Linchpin. He defined it as clear seeing or seeing the world as it truly is.
Photographer Cynthia Graham defines prajna in a blog entry:
Prajna is the Tibetan word for clear seeing, the innate intelligence we all possess deep inside that allows us to look at ourselves and others with humility and compassion, but without judgments of good or bad attached to those observations.
Prajna is a more spiritual or philosophical term than I had originally envisioned as describing the thoughtwrestler’s ability to see clearly, but it does cover a lot of the same ground. Still, in the interest of being precise, I’m going to elaborate more on what I meant by clear seeing.
Wisdom is obviously a huge help in interpreting everything we see and experience in the world. It provides us with vocabulary, analogies, and patterns that we can interpret.
From the thoughtwrestler’s point of view, clear seeing is closer to what Seth Godin describes in his book. It’s the ability to look at situations and look past symptoms or red herrings to find the truth, the real situation and the real problem (or opportunity…) that presents itself.
Clear seeing allows you strip away the bullshit and get to the facts. Clear seeing gets you to the root cause. Clear seeing allows you to tell the world that the emperor has no clothes on.
How do you develop clear seeing, then?
Well, that’s probably a topic for a whole series of posts.
I think the best thing you can do, in general, is to have the courage to ask questions, even when it doesn’t seem make sense to do so. Question the conventional, the accepted, the “common knowledge”. Don’t be satisfied by the simple answers.
What do you do to see clearly?
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Image by Kanzeon Zen Center
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