As humans we have this habit of putting ourselves in the shoes of another living being and imagine how their experience would be like. For example, you might see a handicapped beggar on the roadside looking for food in a garbage can and immediately get a sick feeling in your stomach because in that moment you are trying to put “yourself” in the shoes of that beggar and imagine what it must be like for him to live that way – we also use a term for it called “empathy”. But in truth, whenever you put yourself in the shoes of another person, you will always get a very skewed idea of what’s really going on – because the level of consciousness you are at is not the level of consciousness the other person is at, and “experiences” are always “personal” determined by the level of consciousness in a living being in that moment.
It’s like you trying to put yourself in the shoes of an animal and imagine what it must be feeling – one reason why so many animal activists feel so much suffering within them, because they constantly keep projecting themselves into the shoes of the animals, imagining what the animals must be going through, and getting a completely skewed picture of reality because the consciousness level of an animal is not the same as the consciousness level of this human being who’s projecting himself/herself into the animal’s experience.
Things are never what they seem to you from outside
Always remember that your “projections” are purely based on your level of consciousness. So when you look at a person outside you and try to imagine what he/she must be going through, you are doing so from your level of consciousness – and so you can never understand the accurate experience that they are going through because their level of consciousness is different from yours (may be higher or lower) at that moment.
You can verify this in your own mind – do you remember the days of your life as a baby? Say when you were 2 years old or 5 years old or 10 years old. You may have some dazed remembrances of stuff that happened, but you can’t recollect most of your days the way you can recollect your days after you were 25 years old or so. Because when you were a child your consciousness level was totally low, whereas now as an adult your consciousness level is high. But in your brain you can put yourself back into your childhood days and relieve some negative experiences from your present level of consciousness and imagine how terrible everything was, but in truth when these things really happened in actuality, they were a totally different experience – as a child you were mostly in a daze and went through life almost asleep though your body moved around and did whatever was required for its survival back then.
A lot of people just don’t get this simple reality of life that your experiences are dictated by your level of consciousness in the Now, and it’s not possible for you to imagine, accurately, what your experience would have been like in the past or to imagine what someone else’s experience must be like. You can only know what “your” experience is like right Now everything else is just “imagination”. When you empathize with someone who you perceive is “suffering”, you also suffer with that person but your suffering would come from your level of consciousness which would not be the suffering the other person is going through based on their level of consciousness. So you will always have an inaccurate picture of what’s going on and in most cases would torment yourself by projecting a situation in a totally skewed way. Empathy is fine, but if it puts you in a negative state of being it’s not serving any good to this reality in any way, it just perpetuates suffering.
The “Now” is always simple
The only way you can experience the Now, is in your personal experience with your level of consciousness – so it’s always a “personal” Now. And if you just stay with the Now, without projecting into the past or into the future, you will realize that the Now is very simple, it’s free of problems, it’s easily manageable and there is nothing “overwhelming” in it. All the overwhelming, or suffering-based, thoughts arise when you try to put yourself into a future situation that’s not Now, or into a past had happened at a lower level of consciousness than what it is Now or into the shoes of another living being who’s level of consciousness you can never know – I call all these “hypothetical situations” and I never encourage any discussion around “hypothetical situations” because that’s not how “reality” is. Hypothetical situations will always give you a totally skewed picture of what reality really is like at any given moment.
Most philosophies and movie stories are written based on hypothetical situations, by trying to imagine what it must be like to be in the shoes of some other being. You can watch movies where animals seem to talk about their problems, and start believing that that’s how animals are perceiving their reality, when in truth it’s just a “human” projecting his perceived experience onto an animal. I can state easily that humans, even as children, have the highest consciousness levels compared to any species on this planet because their brain is much more developed, but of course there are varying levels of consciousness among humans – some are at a high level of consciousness, some at a very low level of consciousness even as adults. Some humans even die with the same level of consciousness they had when they were 10 years old because their brain was not able to grow in awareness (mostly due to physical limitations).
Your level of consciousness is not always the same
Remember that your own level of consciousness, in the brain, is not always at the same level. It keeps dipping or increasing at different times. The highest it can go to would decide your actual depth of awareness, but it’s quite possible for your level of consciousness to dip to the level of almost a “sleep” state even when you are awake and moving around – for example, when you are driving a car, sometimes you can just be lost and not even know how you reached home.
There are also people who do some miraculous things and then claim that they have no idea how they did it, that’s because in that moment the consciousness of their brain had switched off and was taken over by the consciousness of their “wholeness” which made them accomplish a relatively miraculous feat from their human standards – this happens especially during cases of emergency. One can later look back and imagine several stories about what really happened, but in that moment their experience was totally dictated by the level of consciousness in their brain at that moment.
Always remember that from a human perspective, your experiences are totally dictated by the level of consciousness in your “brain” at any given moment. When a person hypnotizes you, he basically just manages to switch off most of the consciousness in your brain while keeping you in a semi-waking state so that you respond to the commands without any conscious interpretation of it. So you don’t really remember what you did in that trance because the conscious part of your brain was switched off or dimed out. We are aware of waking state and sleep state of the brain, but there is also a “semi waking” state of the brain where it’s lost to its consciousness but awake, something like the state you are in while “sleep walking”, this is state is what the “hypnotists” tune into.
The bottom-line of this understanding is to recognize that it’s never possible to imagine what someone else is really going through, except through a skewed projection. Inaccurate projections are the cause of close to 90% of our suffering. That’s why the simple pointer to “just stay in the Now” instead of making fearful projections about the past, the future or living beings outside you. Next time you feel like putting yourself in someone else’s shoe, do so while understanding that it’s not an accurate projection in any sense, it’s an “imagination” in you happening from your level of consciousness, a “hypothetical situation” is never the “reality”.