Thursday, January 18, 2007

Seeing Eye to Eye

Seeing Eye to Eye, Four Corners Farm, Milford, NH, September 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/70 sec @ f3.0, ISO 200, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Where does butter come from? Those of you that have lived a somewhat sheltered life might say the supermarket. But of course, butter comes from cow's milk. Specifically, from the cream portion of the pre-pasturized, non-homogonized natural milk. And notice that no other ingredients are required to make the butter — just skimming and churning.

So if you were to look at some natural cow’s milk, and someone asked you, “is there butter in there?” what would you say? Where else is the butter? Certainly it is not outside the milk. So it seems like the only correct answer is yes, the butter is inside the milk. Additional effort must be applied to get the butter, but it is otherwise wholly contained within the milk.

This illustrates an important example: that you can see (or more generally sense) a thing, and not immediately know its true, or at least complete, nature. You can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t judge a human only by the actions you have seen. Inside each person, I believe, is some “butter” -- the sweet cream potential, if you will. All that is required is a little effort to bring it to the surface, and to make it manifest. Like the making of butter, it takes the inherent qualities of the milk — its essence — and the application of some effort to bring out these new qualities that were always inside, but remained hidden to the world (and quite likely to the individual himself).

And the effort I am speaking of is a cooperative effort — requiring some interior work by the individual, but is often initiated in the co-creative, intersubjective context of interaction and encouragement from others. Perhaps it comes from reading a book, perhaps from heartfelt discussions, perhaps even from some distressing situation that causes one to wonder just what the meaning of one’s life really is anyways.

So when you see another human being that is not behaving well, or living a life that you have come not to respect, remember there is still “butter” inside. It is inside all of us. It is nothing special, really. It is just the essence of our being, and indeed, our humanity. And consider this ... Perhaps, somehow, you could be a contributor to helping that person manifest his “butter-nature”. Consider that before you judge him harshly. That butter has not yet come from milk in no way means it isn’t in there. It is always in there. Waiting for the right set of conditions, the right application of effort and energy, to emerge.

So work to bring out the “butter” in your life, and if you can be of assistance, in the life of another as well. It is at least a partial answer to that question you’ve been asking. It is one of the reasons you are here.

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