My first life changing teaching from Yuan Tze was to do with my reference system which determines how we interpret and react to any external experience. After hearing the teaching I was keen to experiment with it in my own life. I looked for and chose a response to a situation that I wasn’t proud of. That was how I reacted when driving and someone pulled across in front of me, taking my space as I thought then. My reaction was sudden and dramatic given the small incident that had occurred. Yuan Tze taught that to change my response I needed to change the information in my reference system that triggered the response. After looking at my response and wondering where it had come from within I decided to change a belief in my reference system. Instead of thinking the other driver had taken something from me (ie my space, my piece of road…) I chose to think that this person may be in a hurry to get home to see their children, go to attend to their sick Mother, get to work on time ie they had a much greater need to occupy this piece of road then me and I could assist them by letting them into the gap and giving them space.
After practicing this for a while I was amazed how differently I felt about other drivers on the road and how connecting with and opening my heart to them gave me a warm contented feeling inside. I didn’t feel separate from then anymore but found I wanted to help them. Sometimes now I look for opportunities to connect with other drivers and show them generosity instead of spite. Later I recognized other flow on effects such as when I need extra space on the road it seems to open up for me just at the right time.
I once told a class of students this story and many years later one told me how significant a similar change has been for her and her view of other drivers on the road.