Reader comment on Margaret Wheatley's passage ...

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    On Oct 29, 2009 Somik Raha wrote:

    I really liked this passage. The last paragraph reminded me of a wise man saying, "Unity, not uniformity!" The idea of Unity in Diversity is a powerful one, and the author is nudging us to recognize that unity. This unity, as she points out, is not at the level of the mind, for we are so divided in our thoughts, opinions and contexts. For lack of a better expression, we call this unity of the heart. Whenever I have not been in this unity, and engaged in a debate or conversation, I find myself disturbed. Why did the other person say this or that? And whenever I've engaged from the foundation of unity, I have felt calm and undisturbed, no matter what is said to me. The quality of such conversations has been entirely different (and much preferred). Yet, it is hard to be in that space. I find the author's technique very helpful - it is an extension of what we do in meditation with our eyes closed. We are continuing the observation process in everyday life situations.

    A big part of listening truly from a space of unity is the resulting trust. Trust, at a superficial level is about me knowing the other person will be right. I remembered a deeper definition of trust by Patrick Lencioni, who says that trust is about knowing that you won't be destroyed by the other person if you are wrong. If we step it up another level, trust is about knowing that you are fine no matter what happens to you. There may be moments where we are able to trust the universe in this manner, but when this happens, we are in a different zone. The quality of our interactions are vastly different, and the conversations we have become transformative. 

    Finally, a story about recognizing the disturbance and learning something about myself from it. My sister is going through a tough patch, and in conversations with her, she would stall and not share her decision situation. I was quite disturbed by her "we'll see what happens." When I asked my wife for advice, she candidly said, "Have you ever spoken to your sister without advising her? Can you try listening to her and not being the elder brother?" I tried remembering when I'd last done that and it was many years back. 

    So, I called her and told her sincerely of my intention to reconnect. She said there was one condition on her end. I should not ask her to go for a 10-day meditation camp. I was stunned. I wasn't thinking of suggesting it this time, but in my past conversations, instead of listening and trying to understand, at the first sign of emotional stress on her or anyone else's part, I'd suggest that they go off for a 10-day. I can see why this is an immature suggestion on my part - it is my way of saying, "since I don't have time or ability to listen and help, why don't you go help yourself?" While such a suggestion has its merits, there is a time and place for it, and it should not be used as a copout for empathetic listening and understanding. I agreed of course, and the result of the conversation was a much better understanding of her situation. I don't want her to think like me and act like me. I love and liker her the way she is. And I also accept the fact that I cannot solve her and other people's problems, much as I'd like to think I do. The world was fine without me, and it will be fine after I've left. I am at peace. But I needed the disturbance to discover it :).

    And as Guri pointed out at the end, I will forget this wisdom and will need another disturbance to remember it again. 


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