A subtle lesson

Sometimes the difficulty of blogging is that what seems blog-worthy is so subtle, it’s very difficult to express. That’s what’s been going on with me, recently. Nothing big, dramatic, or exciting. Subtle things.

For instance, I had an experience recently with getting off on a bad start one morning having to listen to a political discussion that deeply offended me. Now, I can discuss religion with Fundamentalists, atheists and Wiccans, but politics, I can’t discuss, period, except for close friends, and even that can be very challenging for me. So, I was greeted to a political discussion at the beginning of the day dominated by a couple of loudmouth opinionbags whose presence I find intolerable when they’re in "rant" mode. I don’t join in such discussions, even when there’s a certain level of mutual respect and freedom to express one’s opinions–and honestly, there was then.

Except that I was the one that lacked mutual respect. The others might not have respected my opinion, but they do respect me. But when  certain politics comes up, I lose respect for the holders of those points-of-view themselves. And so, the day started progressing, with me despising some people I didn’t want to despise.

Soon a realization came to mind. It was something that Thich Nhat Hahn had once written, but I experienced it internally, as something I knew, not as something to consider: If I had had the same experiences, I would have the same views. I mean all the same experiences, (and only those): genetics, environment, reading, travels, past-life experiences and karma, etc. There is nothing in me that was different than which was in them.  Well. no room for despising after that.

I want so much to believe that I am "special:" The ego  frames us with a smoke screen that looks strong enough to hang a picture on: Because I believe my opinions, my politics, and POV is right, I’m bolstered into feeling "I" am right. And if I am, you definitely ain’t.

Every now and then, grace blows the smoke away.

9 thoughts on “A subtle lesson

  1. Hey Jon,

    Nice perspective…been there, will be there again…but learning to see anew. I’m learning that experiencing the kingdom of god (i.e. love, peace, freedom, contentment, etc) as a present reality is my choice.

  2. I don’t have much reason for arguing with anyone, anymore… of course I do play the game in architecture quite frequently, but we’ve all agreed upon the rules… in any event, it’s for two reasons. First, most people are convinced of their point of view, so all you do is encourage enmity. Second, everyone has perfectly good reasons for believing whatever they believe, even if (as in genocide in Rwanda) they are completely beyond me.

  3. I was witness to much of this conversation. I took away from it something a bit different.

    I enjoy hearing people speak their minds about politics. Much of it is a closed-off, one-sided competition to see who can espouse more random CNN or Fox News facts than anyone else, but at certain points a bit of individuality shines through and you see a window to closely guarded self identities.

    People are often ignorant, and at the same time arrogant, about their own understanding of the world they coexist in. By listening closely, and filtering out the loud attempts to assert dominance, you can find what truly motivates them. Whether it is a fear of people more powerful, a disdain for people less motivated, or a disinterest in anything at all, it comes through.

    By taking those tiny little bits of truth, you can begin painting a more vivid picture of your cubicle co-habitants.

    Smile at the sheer humanity of it all. We trade in stupid and barter with words, but sometimes it’s worth the price.

  4. That’s two now, John! Start that blog already. (And thanks for the great comment. It’s a growing point for me that I need a lot of work in this regard.)

  5. Jon,

    This is probably a bit of the center of your point. If so, forgive…

    Sometimes I think of all a person’s everything as “karma” — experience, genetics, intentions, whatever. And while I also tend to think that exactly the same karma would bring you to exactly the same place as your political discussion counterpart, I nonetheless think that in the present instant, you can choose to awaken, even if only a tiny bit, and so even if you had the same karma up to now, you still can diverge.

    And John,

    To stick with Jon’s Thich Nhat Hahn concepts, I’m increasingly convinced that one of the most important parts of interbeing with others is serving as a Witness to their lives. The common characteristics among the best teachers I’ve ever had in this life was their ability and willingness to set aside themselves long enough to truly see me, especially to see me in ways that I lacked the skill or understanding to do myself. My wife is extraordinarily good at that.

    I think that may be the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

  6. Learning to be a witness to someone, through good and bad, while struggling to set aside your own personal thoughts and absorb the information and intention of the individual in question is not an easy mountain to tackle, but it is rewarding in the attempt, much less the success.

  7. A really lovely and true and Grace full post 🙂 Thank you. May the wind of Grace blow all that ego smoke away 🙂

    Peace and Many Blessings!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *