Whether you see a staircase as heading up or down depends on where you are standing

stone stairs seen through archway

No up and no down. Just the staircase as it is.

Whether you see a staircase as heading up or down depends on where you are standing. It is your perception of the situation. The concepts you have based on your experience with staircases get mixed up in the way you see things, too. You classify the staircase the way you do because you only see it from your perspective. The fact that you see it as either up or down is because you haven’t practiced becoming open enough to see them from all perspectives. When you do see from all sides you will not see either one anymore. The staircase is still the staircase no matter what angle you are seeing it from. No up and no down. Just the staircase as it is.

by Angel Kyodo Williams
from Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace (October 2000)
Awakening the Warrior-Spirit

Perspective

My daughter laid both of her hands flat on her lap, palms down, side-by-side. Next, she tilted both hands, leaning them together to form a shape like a steep, peaked roof. She said, “See, Mommy? They are the same, but they look different. This mountain is hard to climb.”

She looked at the peaked roof of her two little hands, then slowly slid them back down flat against her lap. “No more mountain.”

She made the peaked roof shape again and bent forward a bit so she could look straight down on it. “I’m over the mountain,” she said.

Next, she stretched her little arms out as far as she could and laughed, wiggling her fingers. “Look, Mommy! No more mountain!”

She leaned toward me with a conspiratorial grin and said something to the effect of “it’s all in how you look at things.” She must have been all of four years old. Now she’s 23 and getting ready to go back to college, possibly for a degree in Geology. That girl knows her mountains.

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