Preconceived Notions

Preconceived Notions

Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

Children, unknowingly, many of us nurture preconceived notions about others. A person with preconceived ideas will not be able to properly understand other people. A person wearing yellow-tinted glasses assumes everything he sees is yellow. We must remove the glasses of our preconceived ideas and look at the world as it truly is.

Each time we go to our tailor, he always takes our measurements afresh. A good tailor will never use the measurements he took a long time back to sew clothes today. The tailor is well aware that our body’s measurements, height and weight change over time. But when it comes to people in our life, we usually rule out the possibility that they have changed. We must accept a tailor’s view when interacting with others.

Our preconceived notions lead to a lot of problems. Can’t people become rehabilitated? Didn’t the prostitute Pingala become a great devotee of God? Ratnakaran the robber later became Sage Valmiki. If we are able to interact with others without any preconceived ideas, we will find many of our old acquaintances are really new people!

Once there was a legal dispute. The lawyers representing the accused and the plaintiff were arguing quite strongly. The presiding judge was sitting with his eyes closed, not concentrating. After a while, he fell asleep. Noticing this, the peon woke him up saying, “Sir, you are falling asleep. You are not listening to the arguments.” The judge answered, “Don’t bother me. I’ve already decided the judgement.” The judge then fell back asleep.

Approaching people with preconceived ideas, like the judge did in this story, compromises truth and justice. Some people will gain underserved favours; others will fall prey to undeserved misfortunes.

Because of our preconceived ideas, we also end up losing potential friends and well-wishers. Sometimes preconceived ideas allow us to be cheated as well.

Sometimes we ourselves become the victim of our own preconceived notions. Perhaps, we emphatically believe we are incapable of attaining something. But, in fact, if only we were to put our mind to it and try a little harder, we could do it. Lack of self-confidence is the reason for such preconceived ideas. On the other hand, over self-confidence can also be the result of preconceived notions about ourselves.

In truth, we fall slave to preconceived ideas when we give too much importance to the past. We must always try to live in the present moment and to concentrate on training our mind and intellect to be free and efficient.

Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi