Written by L. Christopher Bird, originally published at the Jedi Path Academy.
The words, “Your focus determines your reality,” were spoken by the character Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace written by George Lucas. I initially rejected the idea thinking it was some kind of mystical thinking, asserting that no, “reality is reality” and subjectivity had nothing to do with it. I felt that objectivity determined what is and what is not real.
However, as human beings, we are very subjective creatures. Life does not happen in a laboratory, under controlled conditions. The world we live in is a messy place, and we share it with other beings. Many times my perceptions will line up with the perceptions of those around me, but when they did not, I found it quite disconcerting. When I meditated on what was happening, I discovered the truth about Qui-Gon’s words, that our focus does indeed determine our reality.
I realized that we interact with the universe through our senses, but everything we sense is interpreted by our mind. Our bodies are not finely calibrated instruments, and our interpretation of the world around us is dependent on our perception of it.
Our minds are exceedingly plastic. They have the amazing ability to reshape themselves. Through the practice of self-examination and meditation, a Jedi can shape their mind and inculcate beneficial attitudes. The process of self-betterment is a difficult one, but one that is completely attainable. It is my belief that the Jedi Path is a path of constant self-improvement. However it is this malleability of our minds, that can lead to our perceptions being slanted in one direction or the other. What causes these shifts in our perception? It is what we pay attention to, the details we pick out and give importance over others. In other words, our focus.
The world we perceive is the world we interact with. These perceptions in most circumstances is all we have to go on, and by necessity, we have to act as if what we are perceiving is accurate. But I think it would have benefit to be mindful that our perceptions may be in error. Sometimes it is as simple as trying to use a step that isn’t there when climbing or descending stairs, or at times it can cloud interpersonal interactions by guessing at another’s motivations or our assessment of someone’s character.
We should be mindful of where we place our focus. What we focus on is a choice. It will benefit us to cultivate a clarity of perception by deciding what we will focus on. As we continue to inculcate the attitudes of the mythical Jedi what does and does not deserve our focus becomes more clear. With this clarity, we can choose to focus on the things that will lead us to favor happiness over unhappiness, see where we can be the most help, and perceive what in our own lives needs attention.
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