We often set out to act in the world/respond to our surroundings long before we have understood the true nature of what we are really tasked to do. Because of this, our feelings, thought and actions are less likely to create the intended result. We must learn to see first, then do.
In this article you are encouraged to consider a way of being, relating and responding that has the capacity to empower, enliven, and authentically connect you to your endeavor.
See First, Then Do.
Become conscious of as much of the situation as possible before acting. Aka, ‘see first, then do.’ This is one of the most powerful and liberating dispositional dynamics you can adopt, as it enables rapid adaptation to the circumstance and helps you move beyond previously unseen limitations.
It is easy to assume that we know the truth of any situation. Actually, this is by and large the way we live. We are way to quick to trust our instinct and tend to operate as if our knowledge is true, infallible and correct. Once some understanding of a thing is established, we tend to accept it as the final and real truth. This blocks us from developing a deeper and more accurate understanding and keeps us ignorant of our ignorance.
From the experiential position of, “my knowledge/understanding is true,” it is likely that we become confused when results are poor, feelings are uncomfortable, and progress is slow. We are bound to overlook our own shortcomings, instead placing blame elsewhere or simply chalking it up to bad luck.
Think of a time when you confronted the experience of inadequacy, ineffectiveness or disempowerment. Ask yourself seriously, “Why did this happen?”, “What is the underlying cause of this?”, “What would it take to become capable?”. In every case, we can understand the cause to be a lack of experience, information, consciousness, awareness or understanding. Think about it.
Let’s look at a simple example:
Say you are consistently receiving low grades on assignments and tests, and want to improve. The common solution is to study more. Grinding away as you have been, expecting different results.
What if there was another way? A better way? See that there is a better way!
You must come to understand what it is you’re trying to do in a new way, in essence, recalibrating yourself to the situation. In this case you could reassess what it means to learn.
Look into your studying, look into your own limitations, learn new methods, eliminate useless/ineffective activity, try new things, let go of assumptions about learning and the subjects themselves and so on. Seeing can take many forms. When the doing you were previously engaging was not enough to accomplish your goals, seeing is necessary. This example is simple and obvious, but captures the essence of the dynamic.
Because you weren’t actively relating to the reality of the condition, you were acting in relationship to your limited conception, ideas, assumptions and fantasy. In fact, the default for humans is to relate solely to these self-generated events, rarely ever peeking out beyond them to perceive what is. As a result, we become trapped in delusions of our own making.
Typically, when we engage a long-term goal, the initial attempts are far from effective and seldom yield the imagined result. As time moves on however, we naturally become attuned to the truth of the event and become empowered to relate to it, rather than our projected, preestablished idea of it. This can be observed in professionals of any kind. Their mastery is the result of time spent seeing, whether they know it or not. All skill comes from our ability to see first the condition in which we exist and to which we must relate. When we are successful in relating to what is actually occurring, the action that flows forth is always more powerful.
The suggestion is that you take on the See first, then do disposition as a baseline, default or fundamental program of mind.
Why should you practice this?
- You will become more powerful by relating to what is actually occurring, rather than a partial or self-generated perception.
- Your actions will become more effective.
- You will have a deeper connection to both self and world.
- Others will recognize your openness and usually appreciate it.
- You will grow as a person in more ways and quicker than when you were acting from ignorance. It is a constant re-adaptation to the condition as it is that fosters your development as an entity.
- You will be freed from the constructs of mind that engender cycles of fruitless activity, needless frustrations and constricting points of view.
- You will feel enlivened by the constant newness of existence. You are constantly engaged in an interesting and entertaining activity.
How do you practice this?
Before, during and after every movement, intend to experientially grasp whatever is true as well as whatever is most effective.
- Concentrate on seeing. Clarify the experience, be ok/neutral with it regardless of its impact on yourself, trust that there is something to learn and that it is worth learning.
- Be open to whatever is true. Don’t let your current way of thinking and being limit you. Be willing got let go entirely of your old ways of operating.
- Do not assume that the truth is the same as what you already have. It may be the case that you are entirely deluded in the matter.
- Remain grounded in your most direct and authentic experience of the event. Do not refer to the mind or your preconceived notions of things, as these are what you’re trying to transcend.
- Question the event deeply. Ask yourself, “What is this?”, “How does this work?”, “What is involved here?”
- Be honest about what you see or don’t see. We have a strong tendency to want to stick with whatever we already have, to assume things when we really don’t know, and to make the truth conform to whatever we already believe or want to believe.
Warning: Do not mistake this principle for inaction. “Paralysis by analysis” will disempower you. Don’t be hesitant to act, even when you think the action may be uninformed. Never make “See first, then do” an excuse. You must gauge this for yourself.
I hope this inspires you to see things anew, to reevaluate yourself and to update your experiences of everything so they represent the truth with as much accuracy as possible.