Tuesday, December 6, 2011
There is a very big difference between responding and reacting.
When we respond to a situation, we are aware of the impersonal quality of what is occurring. Life is occurring, and we are part of that life occurring.
When we react to a situation, we view what is occurring as a personal threat, as an attack, or as a punishment. Life is happening ONLY because I did something, or I am something someone does not like, or I did something that deserves to be punished.
Now think about about, does the world really work that way? Is it really possible that things are occurring solely because of you, and the interplay between you and one other person? It's pretty damn unlikely. There are a myriad of factors that come into play in any given situation. The actions or non-actions of "you" and "I" are only part of the equation, and usually a tiny part at that.
Thich Nhat Hanh wrote: "When we cannot communicate, we get sick, and as our sickness increases, we suffer and spill our suffering on other people."
Learning how to communicate effectively involves learning how to come from a place of non-reactiveness. Being calm enough to take in the swirl around you without having to defend some territory called "I." That sense of calm, in my experience, tends to be there when I'm not attached to my view of things. When I can express what I am experiencing honestly and clearly, but am wide open to listening and taking in the experiences of others, however different.
It's not always an easy task, and most of us - me included - fall flat sometimes. The important thing is to not let perceived failures hold you back.
Just as clinging tightly to what you think is true and right will cause misery, so will clinging to a view of yourself as a screw up.
Living a liberated life means letting go of all final judgments you might attach to yourself and your ideas. Because there aren't any final judgments anyway.
What feel like an insult to you today may feel like a compliment tomorrow. What seems like a failure now might be the very thing that leads you to somewhere great in the future.
You never know, so why get hung up on whatever story it is you have about it all today?