To Label Something is to Limit Your Imagination!
I have listened to the video and Ralph Smart has some good observations about people being multifaceted instead of single-sided, and the universe being mysterious and cannot be labelled. I think it is probably human nature for people to tend to label or categorise one another as part of the human psychology to take mental shortcuts to make sense of the world, but in order for people to understand and appreciate one another better, we all need to go beyond labels.
Like what Ralph Smart said, labels can be limiting since people are essentially multi-dimensional, and we often see only one drop or one side of who they are. And yes, children tend to accept the mystery of people and the universe more easily, hence they live life happily and not preoccupied with judging others. I think we all can remind ourselves to be like little children in that sense, and live in the moment, and at the same time, we can learn to be free from labelling people, and I am on that journey myself too. It does take time and effort to understand and appreciate people for who they are instead of what they appear to be. Like what Ralph said, we can focus on being instead of doing.
I happened to have been reading on the same topic on the need to go beyond labels and assumptions recently in two different blogs.
For example, this blog on “Silencing Stereotypes” shares a quote:
“We are much too much inclined in these days to divide people into permanent categories, forgetting that a category only exists for its special purpose and must be forgotten as soon as that purpose is served.”
~ Dorothy L. Sayers, “Are Women Human?”
Similarly, another blog entitled “Hammers and Wholes” shares this insight:
“Everything is made up of parts, all dancing with the other in a harmonious ballet that makes up the whole. When one focuses on just the part, the whole is forgotten in this moment. We assume that we can learn more by isolating the parts from the whole. But what do you find when you dig deeper? You find more parts, and more and more and more parts that are infinitely smaller and more isolated from the whole. See the whole, and travel cautiously through the sphere of assumption.
We must understand that all human beings are multi-dimensional; you are always hard and soft, bright and dark. In knowing this, one aspect of the persona does not define the person as a whole. These parts, sadly, do become identifiers with the individual. People are quick to judge. Some say: He’s too quiet, or He’s always happy. That girl is too flirty, He’s always sad, or She’s always complaining. These are only tiny parts of a brilliant whole.”
Yes, while labels serve a purpose in the short-term, they do not define the person as a whole. For example, when we see someone wearing a mask and carrying a gun in the airport, the first thought that came to our mind is “he’s a terrorist”. The mental short-cut of labelling helps us in the fight-or-flight response for our survival and safety. Or when we see someone in YA posting religious and condemning things, we tend to label that person as a fundamentalist. All this has its place, yet we also intuitively know that people are more than just their appearance at that point in time. Each person has their own light and dark sides. That man in the mask at the airport could be a security ranger in uniform, or even if the man is a terrorist, that man has a soft side as well – maybe at home, he is a doting father. That religious fundamentalist online may be a friendly person offline, helping people in orphanages, but he seems to become another person when he goes online to post some doctrines that sound legalistic.
So yea, going beyond labels and assumptions is a timely (or rather timeless) reminder for all of us human beings to see, understand and appreciate one another as a whole. I like what Osho said about being free from conditionings:
“You will know you are a Hindu, a Christian, a communist. You will know you are an Indian, a Chinese, a Japanese, and you will know many things – but those things are just conditionings imposed upon you. You had come into the world utterly silent, pure, innocent. Your innocence was absolute.
Meditation means to penetrate to that core, to that innermost core. Zen people call it knowing the ‘original face’.”
The following is also a great quote about the truth of who we are:
“To understand truth you must stand alone, entirely and wholly alone. No Master, no teacher, no guru, no system, no self-discipline will ever lift for you the veil which conceals wisdom. Wisdom is the understanding of enduring values and the living of those values. No one can lead you to wisdom.
Truth can come to you only when your mind and heart are simple, clear, and there is love in your heart, not if your heart is filled with the things of the mind. When there is love in your heart, you do not talk about organizing for brotherhood, you do not talk about belief, you do not talk about division or the powers that create division, you need not seek reconciliation. Then you are a simple human being without a label, without a country. This means that you must strip yourself of all those things and allow truth to come into being, and it can come only when the mind is empty, when the mind ceases to create. Then it will come without your invitation. Then it will come as swiftly as the wind and unknown. It comes obscurely, not when you are watching, wanting. It is there as sudden as sunlight, as pure as the night, but to receive it, the heart must be full and the mind empty.”
- Do we need to label ourselves based on our belief system? (themysteryofchrist.wordpress.com)
- Mind + Body + Soul Detox (phoebesmisadventures.wordpress.com)
- Human Origins – 5December2012 (thegoldenagedaily.wordpress.com)