The black dot

November 10, 2016 | 35 comments


A story sent my way

One day a professor entered the classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They waited anxiously at their desks for the test to begin. The professor handed out the question paper, with the text facing down as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked his students to turn the page and begin. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions, just a black dot in the center of the page. The professor seeing the expression on everyone’s face, told them the following:

“I want you to write what you see there.”

The students confused, got started on the inexplicable task.

At the end of the class, the professor took all the answer papers and started reading each one of them aloud in front of all the students. All of them with no exceptions, described the black dot, trying to explain its position in the middle of the sheet, it’s shape, it’s size, and more. After all the papers had been read, and the classroom was silent, the professor began to explain.

“I am not going to grade on you this. I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same happens in our lives. We have a white paper to observe and enjoy, but we always focus on the dark spots. Our life is a gift given to us by God, with love and care, and we always have reasons to celebrate – nature renewing itself every day, our friends around us, the job that provides our livelihood, the miracles we see….

However, we insist on focusing only on the dark spots – the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend, and so on.

The dark spots are very small compared to everything else we have in our lives, and they should not dominate our attention.

Focus on the good. See the good. Behold the good! It’s far better for your health and happiness.

35 thoughts on “The black dot”

  1. Thanks Evan. What a great lesson and very helpful to me to address the “black dot” I have in my life at present and see right past it to the beauty all around.

    1. Be gentle with yourself. Reminders are ok, they help us. Every minute of the day I have to remind myself of this. This hit home with me as I work with a very challenging group of kids, and it would seem their black fits are many. The days that I spend just correcting all the wrong things they are doing are long and awful. However when I can find the smallest good thing about any if them, it overflows into all if the other kids and the day is good. The good is always there, the black dots fearing extinction try to make themselves big and impressive so as to distract us. This story hit home with me as a reminder of what I need to look for in myself as I learn how to love myself instead if beat myself up all the time. Making a list ofthings on greatful for every day helps me stay foucoused on the white paper.

  2. During my teaching at a Junior College, I used a similar concept. I had asked a question with a one word. The first student came forth and handed me the exam with a two word answer.
    He handed me his paper, received an A. I explained to the class this is what I wanted, but required the rest of the class to explain the concept.

    Some times we look for answers when God is always with us and we are rewarded.

  3. Thanks for this wonderful reminder!

    Life is full and rich. So much good is going on at all times. There are always things to be grateful for. The biggest is always, that God is in control! S/He creates all – all people, all creatures, all everything – in Her image and likeness, so that’s all that really exists. All is harmonious. When we accept God’s control over all, our experience aligns with God’s harmony.

    “Thy will be done.”

  4. This is such a great analogy, Evan. Kind of like thinking outside-of-the-box type thinking. Sometimes we get focussed so much on that dark spot, we really don’t see all of the purity and loveliness around us. This was a great reminder and perfect way of helping us think in a whole different way than only perceiving what first appears to be the situation.

  5. As disappointed and shocked by my country electing someone such as DT, I had to come to the conclusion that my life has not changed, Good still rules and anything unlike God comes forward to dissolve to its native nothingness. I have a lot to do, expressing the good.

  6. Wonderful idea for a great lesson that we can so easily forget. Thank you for sharing this story, Evan. This is the first I’ve heard of it.

  7. Great one, Evan!

    I love (and need) symbols to learn with.
    Christ Jesus’ teachings were clearer with his
    Parables. God… meeting our needs, as always!

    At an Association meeting once, the Speaker handed out papers with an abstract drawing on them. He asked us to find a very common farm animal image in the design. NO one could! Trying SO hard to be “obedient” (ok, and the first to find it!) we all had to give up. He pointed out the animal… right there!!
    He said that we would never again NOT be able to see the animal. Sure enough: it LEAPED out!

    Once we understand, it is FOREVER!!

    I love this.

    Love you all, too!


  8. Just the thing I needed. Was disappointed with my self for not being able to think right wrt a new task that was given to me. However with the help of a colleague, it did turn out well. None the less was upset as I wasn’t able to get the answers and think straight. Your post today encourages me to focus on the fact that I have learnt so much today. Though my inputs were minimal, my learning was tremendous. After reading this, its really miraculous as I feel so much better.

  9. I am so grateful for this expansive perspective, widening view of all I have to be grateful for right now, this minute. When I heard a news pundant propose the 1950’s is where the President elect wants to aim to rebuild our country, my thought went immediately to refute this as limited backsliding thinking. We are all full of new ideas right now, flooding in to lift our thinking higher. Like sunshine, they are there, we simply accept the new thoughts and go higher. Thank you Evan, for spurring me on, to be grateful for expanding thoughts.

  10. Oh my, political end of times! I have been searching for some type of relief…. a different internal arguement of how ,why, what am I missing. This short little story was perfect, I just stopped for a moment after reading and smiled… the blinding obvious! Time to share.

  11. A brilliant message for today’s “condition”. Yesterday, feeling shocked and confused, I was reminded, comforted and re-focused by the Christ message to His own “What is that to thee? Follow thou me” (from Matt. 16). The “dot on a pure white page” is a great tool to help God’s children of all ages understand and re-orient. Thanks so much!

  12. Very grateful, Evan for this excellent reminder to keep magnifying the good. I’ve just got back from a little walk which I spent thanking God for the blessings in my life – not difficult to do on such a beautiful autumn day – but it’s a great reminder to keep it up when the ‘black dots’ seem very large and threatening. Thank you so much.

  13. Very interesting. Thank you. Reminds me of a story I have never forgotten. Our minister told me the story at my mother’s funeral in 1992. He asked, if a woman weighed 150 lbs at the time of her death, how much would the same woman weigh immediately after death? My answer was of course 150 lbs. He went on and said the body weighs 150 lbs, but my mother was spirit which was weightless. He went on and said she would be with me always. Thinking about the body was sad, but thinking about spirit was uplifting, I have kept that feeling to this day.
    John Stapleton

  14. It’s helpful to remember that there is No Retrograde Step….No Return to Positions Outgrown. It’s impossible to go or grow backwards…….Truth and Life’s movement is Always Forward!! Even if people try to go backwards… won’t work and they will have that Lesson to learn! Meanwhile we can support our Country and Our Planet going forward in Peace and Love and Truth!

  15. Thanks Evan, That was so awesome, I read it to my husband, he thought it was excellent. I look forward to SpiritView, Thanks

  16. I love the black dot story! Very appropriate now in this time for our loved country. It is true that the good and beautiful so far outweigh the “black dots” in mortal history as to make us wonder why we ever give any attention to them! Many thanks, this has helped to lift the “black cloud” from my thought. The sun is always shining behind the clouds! And we know that!

  17. What an uplifting idea, Evan, thanks so much. It seems to be mortal mind’s mode to concentrate on the negative, ignoring the immensity of the good.

    Regarding to our recent elections, it’s so good to know that “the government is upon His shoulders.”

  18. Weeks before the election of President of our Country, a verse from Matthew came to mind. “Where two or more are gathered together in my name, there am I.” From these inspiring words, our Board gave me permission to invite one and all to gather in our Reading Room before church from 5:30-6:45 to pray for the OFFICE of President. The guidelines were not to name the candidates, repeat anything read, heard or seen on TV. Our room began to fill up. We considered the words/qualities: govern; governed; One Mind; Love; divine Intelligence; spiritual man; Truth; Soul; and many more. Now with a new President, last Wed. night, we prayed that he would be surrounded with the best intellects to guide and inspire him; we prayed that those who felt hate would see something good to build on; we prayed that God would guide his footsteps, fill his heart with forgiveness and that we could all realize that God is our savior, not an individual. Your message about the Black Dot will be on the table at our next meeting. This is a perfect beginning for all of us, to expand our sights to see all the good God has given us.
    Thank you for your inspiration and your love of God.

  19. Great was interestingto see how many explanations were given yet what was overlooked. It was 80% of the evangelical vote coupled by many good Christians that constituted the vote for
    Mr. Trump. Religion has been under attack for over8 years in our country. I now feel comforted and supported that he will be in office. He is not the evil person the media and TV networks have tried to destroy. Open your eyes and see the good man who will work for all of us.

    1. Hi Maximo,

      It’s just an opportunity to love more! I have readers from all different types of faiths, belief systems and practices, and also from different ways of interpreting how to practice Christian Science. So, I find the best rule is to judge not, and love like the sun shines–unconditionally. It has the best final effect.

  20. Evan: This opened a whole new realization about life for me. Thank you. I really have learned a lot from all your contributions, and look forward to each one.

  21. Edna, what a perfect way to handle this election cycle! You have set a truly inspiring example for all of us to follow!

  22. I have been talking about this with my friends and asking their opinion. I changed it to evil or negative vs good. Many thought it was easier for evil than good. Good requires work and conscious thinking to see the Good in all people that are around you. Jim

  23. Thanks Evan! It comforting to know that the only thing taking place is God reflecting His government. No personal sense but only “Divine Love alone governs man.” (The manual of the Mother Church). Go forth with gratitude for his goodness and grace!!

  24. You know, if we are mostly lucky people, this might be true for us. The “black dots” in our lives might always be smaller than the good things. But it isn’t always that way. Sometimes bad things actually do really happen, and they are huge, and they will not go away by not thinking about them. How do you think a Syrian refugee would feel about this coping technique? Or a Jew in a concentration camp during the Holocaust? Minimizing bad things can sometimes minimize the person they are happening to. Sometimes really bad things happen to us, and we just have to deal with it. I speak from personal experience. Sometimes we can’t focus on the good or focus on gratitude for some time, until things start to get better. Sometimes it’s more like we have a “black piece of paper with a “white dot” on it. And maybe we can be grateful for that one “white dot”–that one good thing. But maybe, sometimes, our pain is too great. And that’s okay. It’s important to have compassion and be realistic.

    1. Amanda, you make many valid points.

      There are times when the amount of “black” we see overwhelms any amount of “white.” But in those times, it still helps to search for the “white” to find hope that we can get out of the black. As you mention, even when the “white” is a dinky little dot compared to the rest, it gives us hope that we can surmount the trouble of the moment and find a way out. And we can, because God is there to help us.

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