I was about 16 years old, when I had my first philosophy class from my teacher Harry Vervest and till this day I still have to smile when I think back to his classes. He really taught me to see things differently. I was 16 and I was quite convinced about my own opinions. Mister Vervest knew how to deal with kids my age and he made the classes fun. I remember him convincing me from something one week and then convince me from completely the opposite the week after. I would go into a discussion with him, using all the arguments from the week before, but in the end he would have convinced me from the new point of view. To start all over again the next week. Sometimes I got a little confused, but I also loved his classes, because he really helped me to change perspectives on the same subject and see that there might be more to a subject than my stubborn puber mind would let me believe at first.
When I was about 20 I got interested in Buddhism and I loved the fact that Buddha told his disciples not to take his word for granted, but to only accept his teachings after their own analysis and not just out of respect or faith. In one of the books I read (“Buddhism for Beginners” by Thubten Chodron) the Dalai Lama tells the reader to remain sceptical and to rely only on questioning and checking the teachings for themself – just like buddha told his disciples. I was impressed. I didn’t think there were religions or teachings out there that would encourage you to think for yourself! To me it seemed that most religious people I knew at that time didn’t really think for themself anymore, they just followed ‘the rules’. But of course that was also just my point of view at that time…
Growing up and getting older I could really be surprised if someone experienced something completely different from the way I did. I was still quite strict in my point of view and if someone had a different opinion, I would definitely try to convince them to see it from my point of view. The last years this need to convince others has started to lessen, because I now see that you can’t always convince others from your point of view just because they really have a different ‘point of view’. They look at the same subject from a different viewing point and therefore they see or experience something different.
This reminds me of images Mister Vervest showed in his classes, that showed the effect of different point of views. The most famous one might be a drawing of a number 6 flat on the ground, where someone stands at the bottom looking up towards the 6 and the other standing on the top looking down on the 6 – and seeing a 9 instead.
The two people are looking at the same object, seeing something completely different and they are both right! If you would add two other people to both sides of the 6 they as well would see something different and still be right. Point of view is everything!
As I’m going forward on my path I’m still learning a lot about many different subjects, and I’ve changed my point of view many times already. I’m learning, experiencing and seeing new things almost every day and with this learning and experiencing, my point of view keeps evolving and thus changing as well. And for me that’s all good. Even science doesn’t state the same facts now as they did 100 years ago.
I really like it when people share their points of view, because we can learn from each other. I think it would be so nice if people don’t just share them to try to convince others of their truth, but more in an open invitation for the other to come and look at it from their point of view. And if people don’t agree with each other, that should be fine as well – they just have a different ‘point of view’. So let’s try to always keep an open mind and try to see things from the other person’s point of view and if that doesn’t feel right, let’s just ‘agree to disagree’. Because “maybe nothing is completely true, and not even that” (Multatuli).