Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beyond Words - March 28, 2010

Below is a story from Zen buddhism that I adapted to speak to nonviolent communication.

One day a student asks the Nonviolent Communication Certified Trainer “Why are you hiding the final secret of NVC from me?” The master says that he has kept nothing hidden but the student continues to demand to know how to live the NVC way. One day they are walking and a bird sings. The master asks, “Did you hear the bird sing?” “Yes,” said the student. “Then you know I have hidden nothing from you.” “Yes,” said the student, and he was enlightened.

In this story though the student had worked with NVC for years, the artistry of living from the heart had not been achieved. The student was still trying to follow a formula, a description based on words, when actually NVC/Compassionate Consciousness is “beyond words” just as it is “beyond wrongdoing and right doing.” By hearing the bird sing, the heart of the student was awakened, and she saw that living from the heart was the secret of NVC. NVC is really not so much a secret really, but a choice to being open to hear the song of life around us.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Be-longing into Belonging

Be-longing into Belonging

One of the tenets of nonviolent communication is that when we connect to life by allowing ourselves to feel and accept the needs of all beings, we lessen our own particular demands. We can do this because by connecting to life a very basic human needs is fulfilled - belonging to life on this planet! It may not feel very good to be aware that our needs, and the needs of others might not get met in our own life time, or theirs. We long for so much - for there to be flourishing, care, compassion, and harmony for everyone. Out of this longing we gain our sense of belonging on this planet, and in turn, can offer a sense of belonging to others as we hold their needs with precious care (even if we can't meet their needs).

I am reminded of this recently as I get ready to journey to Honduras and Guatemala. In preparing for my multiple lectures there I am reviewing the tremendous environmental destruction and the ongoing oppression, poverty, and human suffering that I have witnessed and have been unable to stop. My heart aches to recall the children and the parrots I have known that have died and are no more except in my aging photographs and memory. In my longing for a better world and out of that ache for beauty to be given freedom to flourish, I grow in faith that I belong in this world, and so do others - both oppressor or oppressee. For there is neither wrongdoing or rightdoing, and neither oppressor or oppressee, just beings with precious needs that belong here, now. It is a blessing they were born. An in seeing that, I count my multiple blessings as well.

Blessed Be.

Where or when do you gain your greatest sense of belonging?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Peeling with Feeling

Satyagraha means ‘holding to the truth in every situation’. This is ahimsa (nonviolence), which is more than just the absence of violence; it is intense love.

(Gandhi the Man p. 53)

I don't know about you, but it sure seems hard to hold to the truth in every situation. It seems my monkey mind wants to blame what his happening around me on the banana peel that "someone else carelessly left lying around." Let's say I did slip on that peel and landed on my back side. I get up cursing slobs, litterbugs, and perhaps even myself for not seeing that very clear and obvious yellow object in my path. Once I'm up, and have dusted myself off (after looking around to make sure no one saw me take the fall), I might then began to wonder about that peel as I peel away the layers of what could have happened. Maybe a family unit of gorillas, escaped from the zoo and on their way back to their mountains in Rwanda passed this way giggling and laughing at their new found freedom. Maybe the peel fell from the skies, caught up in a water spout hundreds of miles away, only to land near me so that I could wonder at weather patterns and the miracles of wind and water. Perhaps a person finished eating a banana and meant to put the peel in their back pack, but were so preoccupied with a recent diagnosis of cancer, they just missed the opening completely. As I put myself in the paws and feet of others, I bend over to pick up the peel, smiling, loving gorilla, genocide torn Rwanda, storms, my fellow human, and myself as I do one small thing to heal myself and the world.

What is one small thing you can do today to nourish your spirit, to heal the world?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Are You Out of Control?

In recent days, an email list serve for NVC (compassionate communication) practitioners interested in brain functioning has been discussing the limits of NVC। For instance, when the brain is overwhelmed with emotional input or is short on energy, it diverts energy away from frontal lobe, which can cut down links to the higher cognitive functions. As NVC certainly trains the cognitive loops (stories) to impact the emotions, if you aren’t thinking very well, does it mean that you can’t be the peace you wish in the world? Examples include if you are tired, physically threatened, ill, and in a rage. Who of us has never “lost it?”

I know that I have। The times that my brain just doesn’t work is after the death of someone close to me, and also sometimes, when I am in the midst of playing soccer game and another player purposively fouls me. In either case I look back and realize that there isn’t much thinking going on – so much emotional processing I believe hampers the links to my frontal lobe. So in dire circumstances, does this mean that we cannot be peaceful, aware, and empathetic with others?

Perhaps not। Perhaps so। I do believe that the practice of NVC works imperceptibly over the short term but definitely over the long term to strengthen the ties between emotions and cognition, so that even when tired or threatened, there is modulation of my response that comes from a place of interconnected wonder instead of isolated defensiveness or withdrawal.

Not that I want to test this. It’s been a while since I played a soccer game and got slammed into the earth, or my heart got slammed with a death or broken relationship. However, the mini crisis, or the perceived but not actual threats do seem less intense. Will this save the world or save a life?
Perhaps not। Perhaps so.

What resources do you draw upon when you find that you are not thinking well?