My ex-wife, I will call her Tigger, thinks everything is grand.
People love her, her job is the best and she bounces out of bed in the morning. She works hard all day and falls into bed exhausted at night. She lives in a place that I call World Two. An upbeat illusory world of her own making.
Yet another friend, I will call him Eeyore, walks with shoulders hunched, the world weighing down on him. His job is tough, he wishes he had the energy to exercise but doesn’t. He never has enough time or money and things seem to be stacked against him. His world I call World Three; it is a world of his own making, a dreary downbeat illusory world.
A third friend loves it when there is honey, and sheds a brief tear when there isn’t. I’ll call him Pooh. He takes what comes his way, notices and wanders off. He is a bear of little brain, not continually spinning out illusions like the first two people I mentioned. He lives in World One: the world much more as it is.
These three worlds: a better world, a worse world and the world as it is are all here, each is available for us to focus attention on. The more time you spend focused on one of the worlds the more real, solid and persistent that world appears to be. Each world offers a different “reality.”
The first world is the world as it is. In this world rocks are hard, water is wet and there is no such thing as good or bad. In this world you see, hear and feel, you live with a sense of openness and wonder: a witness to what is here.
In this first world you won’t have much company, because most people live in the other two worlds.
In World One you go to the dentist when you need to, you make love when you do and you live with what is here without complaint or embellishment. This world can sound a little “blah” to people used to the other two worlds. It isn’t that way at all though: it is endlessly rich because you, like a young child, watch as the world unfolds in front of you. It is your oyster, and whether there is a pearl or not doesn’t matter, because you don’t need anything to be other than it is.
In world two rocks are beautiful and water is effervescent, the flow of life itself. World Two is the world better than it is. In World Two there is a lot of judgement—the world is good. Good things happen to you, you are happy because you have the best dentist in the world or your dentist tells you about xylitol and you get to have sweet candy that is good for your teeth. In World Two you don’t deal with what is here. You spin the world upward.
You don’t just have a cup of coffee, you have the best cup ever: a superlative cup. You have really good friends, a great job and the sunrise this morning was amazing.
It takes a lot of energy to create World Two. And you must ignore the world as it is. World Two is based on your preferences and judgements. This is a lonely world, simply because you are the only one who lives in exactly your world. In this world you become an evangelical trying to sell your illusionary world to others.
World Two is exhausting. You wear yourself out trying to remain there, but when you just can’t you fall into a world of woe: World Three.
In World Three rocks could hurt you if you fell on them or if they fell on you and water might flood, chasing you from home or even drowning you. You should, in fact, get your water tested to make sure there isn’t something poisonous in it. World Three is worse than the world really is. In World Three the dentist is a person who hurts you, tells you not to eat what you want and is out to get you, charge you too much money and wound you at the same time.
In World Three there is a cloud over your head, it is either raining or going to soon. Things aren’t the way that they should be, and there really isn’t anything you can do about it. World Three is just as illusory as World Two but in the opposite, downward, direction.
In World Three your shoes don’t keep their shine, you get old, and then older and die.
The trick to being a World Traveler
The best of times is when your attention moves freely between all three worlds. This is called being present.
Getting stuck in any of the three worlds sucks.
To flow between worlds notice which world you are in. The very act of noticing opens the other two worlds to you. Trying to be in one of the three worlds is like trying to be stuck.
Ask yourself: “Which world am I in?”
You may be lying in bed just having woken up, thoughts of your day descend upon you—and you are in World Three. By breakfast, with your third bite of cheesy scrambled eggs, you may be excited about the big morning meeting—now you are in World Two.
Hours later, your morning is behind you, your afternoon is ahead and you can pick any restaurant you wish for a tasty lunch: you are in World One.
Moving between worlds can be a bumpy ride. But when you notice which world you are in you become aware of all worlds: and mindfulness/presence results.
So just ask yourself that one question: “Which world am I in?”
Answer the question and instead of dwelling on your answer, ask the question again, because you are likely to get in the flow, moving rapidly between worlds. That makes you a world traveler with a rich, full life.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Editor: Travis May