Introduction - Explanation of BIGGER PICTURE CONCEPT
Sometimes simple concepts can bring about important transformations. This website and Love Life 101: What Near-Death Experiences and the Mystics Teach Us about Love, Romance, and the School of Life are built on one of those simple transformative concepts: the pursuit of romance is not an end in itself but a small part of the bigger picture of our lives.
Grasping the bigger picture is a matter of learning more about the situation we face. It can bring about a dramatic shift in perspective that leads to clearer, better choices. The problem with the concept is that it requires us to inquire about the bigger picture of our lives, which in turn exposes how little we know. To provide insights on this bigger picture, we turn to the near-death experience (NDE) phenomenon and the mystic perspective shared by spiritual luminaries of all religions, cultures, and eras.
The NDE phenomenon is firmly out of the closet in the wake of Raymond Moody's book Life After Life. Before Life After Life, NDEers were reluctant to share their experience due to public skepticism and fear of rejection. Recent recognition in academic and medical communities and the public has given more NDEers comfort to talk.
The NDE and mystic perspectives reveal that we do not properly understand our physical world choices if we are oblivious to the spiritual world context in which they arise. If we are oblivious to the bigger picture context, we can master the art of attracting romantic partners only to find that it does not bring happiness. Awareness of bigger-picture factors can help us find our life partner, have a more graceful love life and reduce the level of pain and missteps we encounter.
Choices, whether big or small, are the only steering wheel we have for influencing the direction of our lives. Some choices are obvious, such as "What should I do this evening?" Other choices are less obvious, but perhaps even more important because we assume that the results they bring to us are beyond our influence. For example, our thoughts, habits, fears, emotions and resentments strongly influence how we perceive and engage the opportunities that arise in our lives. Many of us consider these to be beyond our control, but each is based on choices we have made and can be changed through new choices. Even decisions not to decide or to rely on someone else are exercises of our right to choose. Each choice we make closes off some opportunities and opens up others, sending our lives in a constructive or destructive direction depending on the constructive or destructive nature of the choice we make.
The benefits of having a healthy grasp of the bigger picture when making this continual parade of choices are immediate, practical and life-transforming.
- If we knew that the most important aspect of the drama of life is not whether we win or lose, but how we treat the people we interact with, would we pay closer attention to the relationships involved in our daily activity?
- If we knew that the larger purpose of an action by a loved one that annoys us is to make us aware of our fear, prejudice, emotional scars, need for control or other baggage that is the real cause of our annoyance, would we begin to look at our contribution to these experiences more closely to identify that root cause so that it may be healed?
- If we knew that when we hurt others, we hurt ourselves, and that one day we will experience firsthand the impact that we make on the lives of others, would we become kinder and more compassionate in our thoughts, words and actions towards other people?
- If we knew that holding resentment against someone else makes our situation worse and hurts ourselves spiritually, energetically, emotionally and physically, would we try harder to let go of anger and wish our former romantic partners well after a breakup?
In all of these situations and countless others, the bigger picture introduces factors often overlooked that would change the choices we make for the better. These more informed decisions would tend to keep our romantic relationship and our lives in general on a constructive path. They would transform negative experiences into catalysts for positive growth.
A final note: We use the term "bigger picture" rather than "big picture" because it is unlikely that any of us will be privy to the whole picture while still inhabiting a physical body. The fact that there may always be more to learn and experience, however, is no excuse for failing to do the best we can with the opportunities we have.
1 Raymond Moody, MD, Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon--Survival of Bodily Death (HarperOne 2001).