“When we have our body and mind in order, everything else will exist in the right place, in the right way. But usually, without being aware of it, we try to change something other than ourselves, we try to order things outside us. But it is impossible to organize things if you yourself are not in order. When you do things in the right way, at the right time, everything else will be organized.”
~ Shunryu Suzuki, Japanese Zen Master
As you read this the elections in the USA have ended and the results have been announced. Some are ecstatic and some are depressed. What I find interesting is that so many think they’re right and the ‘others” are wrong.
We wonder whether what we do affects the world around us yet isn’t people thinking they are right and have the only answer part of the problem we see? When we are sure we are right we stop listening to others. We shut down, fold our arms across our chest and set up a wall to any further communication.
Recently I was working on a project that delighted me. I got feedback from someone that a section was to be changed, someone wanted it another way.
How ridiculous! I knew what I was doing! I knew what fit and what didn’t! I had invested a lot of time! Their idea didn’t work at all! They didn’t know what they were talking about! They weren’t listening! They were wrong!!!
Knowing that the world was a mirror I realized that my upset was about me and walked away from the e-mail that brought me the message and asked: “Where am I insisting I’m right? Where am I not listening? Is it possible I don’t have the only answer?”
This was a pretty hard pill to swallow because I’d been working on the project for a long time. But as I asked myself these questions, opened to the possibility I didn’t have all the answers, and went back to the e-mail sent to me it somehow changed… What was being asked wasn’t quite so ridiculous… Maybe, just maybe…they even had a point.
As long as we think we’re right we have no opportunity to learn, to grow, to experience another way. I realize that there are so many delicious differences in the world and that if I close them off I am the looser.
And so my project has changed, has even been improved by the joining of two opposing forces, from the willingness, to listen, to respect the other side’s opinion, to look at new possibilities. (That is my willingness. The other side never budged AND that was OK too). When I open to possibilities, when I put aside my need to be right, I open others to the possibility of doing the same and even if they don’t I can experience peace. Go ahead, tell me that wouldn’t make a difference in the world if we each did it.
An election result may be too big a place to start for some of us (although the stretch would definitely grow us!) Opening to the possibility that the other person may be right too starts at home with a loved one or at work with a co-worker or boss. It starts in your daily contact with the world. It starts by reading a position that is not your own, considering a stand you wouldn’t take, looking for the rightness in what you don’t like. It starts when we stop bad-mouthing those who don’t see things the way we do and consider that our way may not be the only way. It starts when we consider that everyone is doing the best they know how with what they have.
What if when someone won an election they said: “You know I don’t have all the answers. Maybe you’re right too. Since so many people believed in you maybe you have a point that needs to be examined. I may have won the election but what’s most important is a well run government.” Just imagine…it begins with you…