The Quest for Right Relationship

November 2014

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In this blog series, we have talked about a number of factors that contribute to clear communication. The process starts with the intent to find common ground with those with whom we are communicating, and with a mutual desire for the wellbeing of the other. If we are willing to be honest, authentic and emotionally vulnerable, we can work together to create a safe space in which we can drop our masks and pretenses. In this space, it then becomes possible to peel back the veils of appearance and discover a deeper truth. There is no need for technique if you are willing to listen to the stories that make the other who she is, learn her language, and feel the connection that already exists between you. In this fertile field of common ground, seeds can be planted that will grow into something more than either of you could have imagined before you entered the conversation; while your differences will provide the fertilizer that catalyzes growth.

In the end, good communication is a natural extension of what the Quakers call “right relationship” with all that is – an awareness that we are all interconnected, and we all play our part in a comprehensive and mysterious Whole beyond our comprehension. In order to enter into the heart of this Mystery, we must have a conversation with the World, and with everything in it. This conversation cannot proceed unless we start with the assumption that everything has a voice and every voice is essential to the conversation – which has in fact been going on long before we got here, and will continue long after we are gone.

Although this blog series has focused on human-to-human communication, it is important to place anything human in a larger context. We are not the only ones here, but we are one of the few species out there killing each other, soiling out own nest, and trashing the planet as we work out our purpose in the larger scheme of things.

It is thought by some that the ability to communicate is taken to a pinnacle of sophistication and complexity in human speech. If so, then perhaps coupled with the capacity for reason (and rationalization), self-individuation (and selfishness), this puts us at a disadvantage compared to other species that seem to have an easier time naturally taking their place within the Greater Whole. Perhaps we were burdened in this way because our potential contribution is so great.

Or what seems more likely, perhaps learning to master our unwieldy brains and the words that pour out of them is part of our initiation into the planetary family of beings. Only if we can get over ourselves and join the circle of Life, not as its self-appointed masters, but as an equal to the dolphins and daffodils, ravens and rivers, microbes and mountains with which we share this place, can we get to stick around long enough to see what happens next. If we fail to pass the test, the Earth will blink, shrug, and go on without us, perhaps noting that big brains and complex language skills don’t work that well, so time to try something else.

That would be a shame, as I personally would like to believe that humans do have a part to play in the outworking of the Great Mystery of Life unfolding on this planet. First, however, if we wish to do more than inflict the Earth with a bad case of the flu like so many wayward bacteria, then we must stop warring amongst ourselves and find a way to create a coherent and inclusive culture that supports and sustains both the larger web of life, and our own continued existence. Surely, with all of the intelligence we presume to have been granted, this should be possible.

The key, I believe, is in learning how to communicate with each other – in the same way perhaps that the cells of our bodies communicate with each other in order to produce health. If we are successful in this experiment, then clear communication will lead to community and the possibility of communion with each other and the other more-than-human inhabitants of this place – the diversity of intelligences that Yggdrasil’s third soul task invites us to explore. Perhaps then, from this place of communion, we can commute the curse of our complex intelligence into something truly useful – an actual evolutionary advance contributing to the common good, as Rumi puts it, of a world “too full to talk about.”

This is the last post in this series.

To read more blog posts, go here.