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Who's Right?

I’ve always been curious, a deep thinker with a sharp mind and a need to understand things as clearly as they can be understood. I needed things to make sense to me, and when they didn’t, I insisted on trying to find some logic or sense to whatever I perceived.

One of the greatest discoveries on my spiritual path was the separation between mental logic and emotional logic. I understood that mental logic and emotional logic aren’t the same, but if I can start to understand emotional logic with my mental mind, I could find some sense in things that seemed illogical.

There was a moment that I remember, a few years ago while I was traveling in Thailand, when I felt deep inside that anything and everything is possible. It was a powerful concept to embrace, especially when our culture is so busy making clear distinction between the real and the imaginary. There is truth, and there is untruth. There is objectively right, and objectively wrong. But what if it’s not as clear as that? What if truth is always subjective? What if real and imaginary are interchangeable and are just two sides of the same coin?

I’ve deepened my understanding of that concept over the years while working with people and the profound parts of their psyche. This perception is deeply necessary when working with the human psyche. There’s so much richness and color in our inner worlds, yet we tend to do ourselves a great injustice by limiting ourselves to only black and white.

There’s an experiment that I learned about from Dr. Leonard Laskow in his teachings that helps to convey this idea. The experiment describes 3 buckets of water; a cold bucket on the left, a hot one on the right, and a lukewarm one in the center. The experiment starts by putting your left hand in the cold bucket and your right hand in the hot bucket and leaving them there for 1 minute. Once the minute is over, you’d put both hands into the middle bucket and experience the feeling.

In the moment of having both your hands in the middle bucket, your two hands are sending opposite messages to your brain. The left hand tells the brain that the water is warm, and the right hand tells the brain that the water is cold. But which is right? Could the same bucket hold both warm and cold water at the same time? If you ask your logical brain it will easily conclude that it’s not possible. But if you ask your own experience, it seems to transcend logic. It seems that the truth of reality can be more complex than our perceived sense of mental logic.

My invitation to us all is to open our minds as wide as possible and change our minds as often as we can in order to allow this mental flexibility to bring more peace and compassion into our lives. If you feel you’ve held an opinion for your whole life, and you think that others who don’t hold this opinion are wrong, ignorant or even evil, I recommend you take another look at what you believe to be true. How could it be that those people you see as wrong, believe that you are wrong? Is it so clear that they have missed the point, and there’s no chance that you have? What if both of you are wrong? What if both of you are right? What if both of you are wrong and right at the same time? Is that something your mind can logically understand?

I feel that I am both wrong and right almost all of the time, while the rest of the time I simply don’t know.

I know there are times when I must fully commit to the part of me that is "right" in order to bring an idea or belief into reality. Without believing that I am right, it is extremely difficult to fight for justice, truth and freedom. By committing to the part of me that is only right, I can’t allow space to my wrongness, and it feels like all that I experience, is my right hand feeling the middle bucket to be cold. It seems objectively true from the eyes of my right hand, and in those moments it doesn't matter whether the left hand feels differently.

On the other hand (pun intended), I know there are times when I must surrender to my wrongness, to let go and admit to my mistakes or misperceptions without holding on to any of my rightness that might exist as well. This is important in relationships and arguements with people we care about who might feel hurt and wounded. It's crucial to have moments when I can focus on the other who needs me, and allow space for their perspective to be fully seen.

I know that in both these cases, of either embracing my rightness or embracing my wrongness, I must try to remember in the back of my mind, that there’s much more complexity and richness to my experience and that right now I’m focusing only on one of my hands in the middle bucket, while not feeling the other. This happens to us so much of the time, and it’s perfectly normal and ok. And still, our daily challenge is to remember both of our hands as often as we can.

May our right hand and left hand come together in peace during this challenging time of separation and hate. May we all remember that we are all part of the same body, of the same human race, and of the same planet earth.


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