Point of View

Updated 4/24/08

Point of view is both a concept and an experience. When point of view is singular, it vanishes from experience. When more than one point of view is present, the concept rises into our awareness.

In everyday talk "point of view" generally is used to describe a situation where two communicators have contrasting opinions or beliefs. If disagreement persists, the conversation often is framed with a statement such as, "Well, you have your point of view on this, and I have mine." The contrasting points of view are an interpersonal matter.

In the Hawkeen Training we are more interested in the conscious and precise development of multiple points of view within the individual. For those of you who have read and practiced Part Two of this training (States of Attention), you will discover that POV offers additional choices that are powerful in directing your attention to gather useful information in your circumstances that you otherwise might have missed. Each type of POV has its own logic. As you become adept in choosing POV you will be the director of the quality of your thinking.

Consider the contrast of the POV associated with waking states and dream states. When we are awake we see, hear, and touch in a material frame. This guides our perception of time and space in a linear way. To walk across a room and go through a door, one must judge distances, walk around obstacles, and set ones course using a linear logic. If one intends to walk across a street, it is important to judge accurately the distance and speed of oncoming traffic. In a dream state ones POV is not restrained by the logic of a material frame. Time can speed up, slow down, stop, run backward, and jump around in ways which render past, present, and future moot. Shapes and distances can shift at will. The distinctions among solid, liquid and gaseous blur.

While in a waking state it is possible with practice to shift POV back and forth between the linear, material frame and the dream frame. Athletes sometimes refer to this as going into "the zone." A batter in a baseball game who is in the zone can "slow down" and "enlarge" the baseball as it travels between the pitcher's hand and home plate. From this POV the batter sees the stitches on the baseball and can determine its rotation and probable trajectory. This makes the decisions of whether, where and how to swing much better informed than if the batter had stayed in a material frame. We suggest NightWalking (see Part Four of this training) as an excellent way to learn to practice shifting POV back and forth between the waking and dream states. Practicing the broad/narrow distinction in States of Attention also is helpful.

There exist two major mental points of view. They are called subjective and objective thinking and are vastly different. Any event, real or imagined, is perceived entirely differently in each point of view.

Subjective thinking is the point of view one has from ones own eyes, in ones own body.

Objective thinking is the point of view one has while watching oneself during any event or circumstance, real or imagined. The view may be close or far, level with, above or below oneself. The view may see oneself from the front, the side or behind. Objective thought isn't a birthright, it's learned--somewhat like reading. Natural forces permit the development of creatures such as us, but they don't mandate it.

Objectivity is a human invention and was only discovered once in the world's history--in Greece around 500 B.C. Although China and India played essential roles in the subsequent development of science, neither developed objectivity. One of the features of individuals who haven't mastered objective thought is that they can't distinguish ideas from material reality. For those who doubt the power and importance of objective thought, only 160 years separate the first steam locomotive from manned space flight. This reflects a period where a critical mass of the population achieved the ability to reason critically. And what is this critical mass? It's generally thought to be a few percent. Objectivity was introduced into Europe twice before this modern era (starting in the seventeenth century) and twice it died out--once leading to the Dark Ages. Therefore, the failure of a culture (or person) to develop a certain activity may not be because it (or they) didn't think of it but because it (or they) couldn't/can't think of it. Every person is born with subjective abilities, whether they develop objective skills is the result of effort and circumstance.

Although it sounds contradictory, what we call objective thinking is possible only after we come to understand the subjective nature of thought. This is because objectivity requires that we differentiate between the internal world of private thoughts and dreams and the external world that exists apart from us. Indeed, without such a differentiation there is no external world--or internal consciousness, for that matter--but only an undifferentiated stew of mind and matter.

The POV for subjective thinking is called associated, and for objective thinking is referred to as dissociated--the observer is separated from the thing observed.

Because the associated POV involves being in ones body and looking out at the world through ones own eyes, the reference point for the experience rises out of ones kinesthetic bodily sensations, and ones self talk concerning beliefs, emotions, desires, and fears. This is great for accessing resources, remembering pleasant experiences, making love, etc.

The dissociated POV creates a perspective where oneself is seen in the context of the surrounding people, objects, and activities. One gets to see oneself operating within a context. This POV can be profoundly interesting and useful in generating higher quality choices for behavior. For example, consider a recent argument or disagreement between you and a friend. Likely you will notice that during the argument you were in an associated POV seeing through your eyes and vigorously defending your position. Now review the exchange from a removed POV. Place your visual awareness halfway between you and your friend about eye level. Look back and forth at the two of you arguing. Notice both yours and the other's facial expressions. Notice the interaction between the two of you. What do you notice differently from the dissociated POV?

The next step in this training is for you to practice examining yourself from a distance--greater than 10-15 feet. Literally in your mind's eye see yourself in some imagined (future) or remembered (past) circumstance as if you were video-taping yourself. Examine yourself as a witness to the event and/or circumstance would. It isn't vitally important that you see your face clearly, few of us can. But it is important that you see the person that is you--and from a distance. View yourself dispassionately--at a distance. Practice seeing yourself in all kinds of circumstances (and distances) until you have a clear understanding of the experience of (and difference between) associating and disassociating. Notice which experiences you naturally associate with and which you dissociate.

Once you have a clear distinction between the two states, move from associated to dissociated POV during an actual disagreement. Keep track of how differently you argue when you are able to select different POV, and note the benefits from having this perceptual choice available.

The effect of dissociation is amplified by increasing distance and/or diminishing the color in the mental image you see, and, of course, the opposite is true for association. Dissociation is great for thinking of unpleasant experiences, being able to view experience for its information value, etc.

Dissociating from pleasant experience and associating with unpleasant experience is an excellent structure for becoming and staying depressed, no matter how good your life 'really' is.

Changing POV changes reality. There is a time for passion and there is a time for dispassion; use both wisely.

If an unexamined life is not worth living, the unexamined self is not worth being.


Steps to an Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson
The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Casteneda
The Superhuman Crew: Painting by James Ensor, Lyric by Bob Dylan
Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins
The Silent Language by Edward T. Hall
Uncommon Sense by Alan Cromer --Traces the discovery and dissemination of the ability to think objectively.
The Structure of Delight pp. 185-190