There’s an attention getting header. At a recent meditation retreat, I had an insight- maybe. Let me use Facebook as the stage for the story because it’s a nice polarized archetype of the phenomenon. Someone posts something inflammatory on an issue that is a “trigger” for you. You slam back with a stinging bit of prose. They, and five friends from “their side” escalate the emotion and the language, you trump that, more people take sides and the rhetoric heats up to boiling…you get it.
This is what happens on Facebook. It is also what happens when countries go to war, when families fall apart, when we find ourselves at odds with clients and partners and when we get lost and damaged and trapped by our own inner voice. We’re not mean, stupid or bad. We are confused. We have incorrectly divided reality into two pieces-the “right” piece (our point of view) and the “wrong” piece (our friend’s point of view). This is an unskillful view because it is not really true. In reality (REAL reality), there are practically limitless other versions of “truth”. Some include pieces of BOTH our position and our friend’s position, some contain neither but are still legitimate and a couple might just be world changing. So, the little insight was that this division into opposites is in reality a failure of the thing that makes us most human- our ability to be creative. When we attach top a position or idea, when we avert from someone else’s thinking as an automatic response, when we “bite the hook” as Pema Chodron, one of my favorite spiritual teachers says, we not only create immediate suffering for ourselves and the people we interact with (it doesn’t feel good to be at war with our friends or family) but we abnegate a potentially brilliant, elegant and beautiful solution. Why not reclaim our birthright as human beings, use our big brains, be playful and curious and create! We’ll get better results, we and everyone we encounter will be happier and we just might change the world.