So lately (and throughout my life) I'm pretty well obsessed with sacred outlook, also known as pure perception or true perception. I've begun to believe that it's the cornerstone of magic and living an awesome life. Sacred outlook can sound rather saccharine or silly at first. It's the practice of "pretending" that every circumstance and every person you meet with is wholly divine, wise, pure, loving, and worthy of huge gratitude and receptive reverence. Of course most of the time we don't automatically perceive the vast majority of situations and people in our lives this way.
(image from The Dalai Lama's Secret Temple: Tantric Wall Paintings from Tibet. Tibetan tantra emphasizes Sacred Outlook as a means of spiritual evolution)
For example, my automatic perception setting is to look around and see circumstances ranging from the numbingly mundane to the excruciatingly tragic, and people ranging from the fairly cool to the totally annoying.
Yet the weird joke is that after you practice celebrating everyone you meet as a profoundly wise divinity whose every word is precious and encountering every situation as a joyous boon for a few weeks, you start to discover something very alarming: you're not really pretending anymore that everything is way wonderful.
You're actually directly, effortlessly perceiving that everything is way wonderful.
And this, friends, is very, very trippy.
Let me be clear: just because you're practicing sacred outlook doesn't mean that all the shitty things that go on in the world halt. There's still war and rape and abuse and economic inequity and environmental devastation. That all still exists. What changes is that you start to perceive the fundamental goodness in everyone's heart and in your own heart - and that goodness becomes WAY BRIGHTER than all the awful stuff.
And soon you start to see that all the awful stuff (war, rape, abuse, economic inequity, environmental devastation, on and on) is just what people do when they're allowing their own confusion to keep them from seeing the fundamental, astoundingly gorgeous and wise goodness in their own heart and in everyone else's.
So everywhere you look, in every situation you see - you no longer see boring, wretched people and situations that merit your rejection or indifference. Instead, you see loving, amazing people and situations (sometimes caught up in sad confusion) that merit your admiration and engaged compassion.
So you're seeing the actual wonderfulness that was present all along, but which had previously been obscured by your judging and resisting ego-mind.
It even begins to dawn on you that your very willingness to perceive the marvels in every person and every situation is actively helping to draw those marvels out. In other words, your showing up with an open heart and open mind is an actively positive choice that lets people feel comfortable enough to drop their defenses and be more rad with you.
The three traditions I'm aware of which give the most emphasis to the practice of sacred outlook as a path of spiritual advancement are Vajrayana (aka tantric) Buddhism, Sufism, and nondual Christianity ala A Course in Miracles. You can find out more about all of these on the tantric resources page.
All of these traditions propose that sacred outlook is a rapid path to realization. As I've experimented with it over the years, I've found that to be true. The times I've put the most energy into cultivating sacred outlook, I've actually felt my center of felt perception shift from my brain to my heart. Scientifically speaking, it seems that I begin to experience the world with a lot more mellow and cuddly oxytocin kind of feelings and a lot less demanding, addictive dopamine-seeking kind of feelings.
A bit about me, Carolyn Elliott
I coach magical, creative people to live turned-on, ecstatic lives rich with genius and electricity. I’m the author of Awaken Your Genius: A Seven-Step Path to Feeing Your Creativity and Manifesting You Dreams (North Atlantic / Random House). I also lead the Outlaw Court, a secret Facebook group where outlaws are hugely supported in rocking their magic and bringing their Things into the world – if you’re magic and you know it, you’re welcome to to join the Outlaw Court.