Our path by Kit No Comments »

You ask about the origins of empty-mindedness.  One was my experience of long, drawn-out arguments with shouting, crying, begging, with-holding, accusing, sulking, withdrawing, and attacking.  Words and acts from the past would be dragged in to make a case.  Threats and demands would be made to gain the advantage.  Finally, through exhaustion, we would reach a position where each of us would abandon the attack and just express our needs.  It felt like a summer squall had blown in and passed over, leaving flooded paths, downed branches and litter all over.  At that point we were able to hear the other person and accept their needs as real.

After a long time, I saw that the argument was merely the precursor to this place of communication and potential resolution.  I never liked arguments, and these days, I choose to go directly to that post-squall place of self-expression without attack, where I can clearly distinguish between what I want to happen and what other people should do.

A second contribution to empty-mindedness has been a decade or more of sitting.  I won’t give instruction here, but through repeated practice, the ability to separate thoughts and actions, still the mind, be present and distinguish between thoughts and direct experience makes access to a center point of stillness easier and easier.

Lastly, I have done a number of Enlightenment Intensives, 3-day events which excel in removing the fog of language and revealing the truth underneath.

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The Secret of a Peaceful Relationship

Dialogue by Kit No Comments »

My Dear Kat,

The secret of a peaceful relationship is choosing to be in a peaceful relationship. This is how we are, and I am so grateful for it. We’ve talked much about this, and how it happens.  This is an attempt to pull it all together, or at least provide a starting framework.

No attacking
Each of these bullet points could be (and often has been!)  a complete post; I just wanted to get them all together in one place.

  • not attacking the other person
  • not blaming the other person
  • having no expectations
  • making no demands
  • not expecting the other person to be or do anything in particular
  • celebrating the other person’s differences rather than criticising them

No defending

  • not taking the other person’s words as an attack
  • not reacting defensively to the other person’s words or state

Speaking the truth

  • You have to say what is going on when it reaches your consciousness. Obviously some timing is involved; halfway through the board meeting isn’t an appropriate occasion, but concealment doesn’t work for two reasons: it inhibits you from speaking, and the other picks up on it. As an example, your intuition during the weeks before I proposed.
  • Another way to say this is “No secrets”. Many people think that white lies are acceptable, even within a relationship. I am very doubtful that they can exist and have no effect.

Listening with full attention
Even when the truth is being spoken, it has to be heard. There is a technique called active listening that involves paraphrasing the speaker’s words or emotions. I don’t do anything quite so formal, but instead, listen with full attention and treat it as a monologue. If I treat it as a dialogue, I lose attention as I compose a response. This is a distinct and conscious act, and (I think) the same experience as being present.

Trusting the other
For all of this to take place, you have to believe in the essential goodness of the other; you have to trust that there is no monster lurking in there ready to spring out. But if you believe that the majority of people are basically kind-hearted and well-intentioned, then this is your de facto position.  (This gets into my political belief that conservatives believe that evil lives in the heart of man, and liberals believe in the intrinsic goodness of people. So how do conservatives ever have a relationship? Maybe they divide the world into trusted and non-trusted.)

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Where Do Arguments Come From?

Dialogue by Kit No Comments »

My Dear Kat,

This morning we spoke of people who act like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  We have both had partners like this.  One moment, everything is fine, then POW!  Something sets them off, and someone unrecognized appears: maybe hysterical, maybe furious, maybe withdrawn.

There are several ways we react to this.  One is to defend against the attack, to fight back, to deny the accusations.  A second is to feel guilty, to feel the attack is justified in some way.  Maybe I should have called her back?  Maybe I shouldn’t have said that?  It’s easy to react this way because sometimes we do screw up, and in such cases, this is the only way out.  A third way is to try and fix it, to do whatever it takes, because she is your partner and she is in pain, and because you want normal service to resume as soon as possible.

It was with A., a very volatile partner, that I first noticed the rock.  When she got angry, I wouldn’t let my self get dragged in.  I would not let myself be affected by it.  Oh, there were times it went on so long that I reacted in anger at the whole mess, but in general, I could just let it wash over me, could wait it out.

– – – – – – –

I write about all this because we don’t do it.  Ever.  In its place is a constancy, one that we both remarked on after getting to know each other.  I love the consistency.  Of course there is variability: sometimes you are tired or ill or quiet, but I never feel that you have changed in how you see me.  This knowledge is so very peaceful and calming.  Thank you.


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Dialogue by Kit No Comments »

My Dear Kat,

One of the main reasons for our lack of conflict is that we agree on the ground rules.  The funny thing is that originally we were never explicit about them, with maybe the exception of sexual monogamy, and it wasn’t until we came to write our wedding vows that we put our common understandings into words.

I love the way we did it.  We sat side by side on the bed, and each wrote down what was important for us.  Then we exchanged lists and talked about our responses to each item.  Often, we had said the same thing in different ways.

We came back to this a number of times over several days, talking about everything until we had identified and clarified the essence of what we were saying, and out of this, we crafted our vows.

  • I promise to be your partner and lover through life.
  • I promise to dwell in love, to act from love, to hear with love, to speak from love.
  • I promise to always be truthful and to share what I feel.
  • I promise to recognize and honor who you are and to always remember that “you are you and I am me”.
  • I promise to choose the positive and strive toward the good and act in support of you always all ways.
  • With these promises I celebrate our union and rejoice in the Grace that brought us together.

It was, as is always the case with you, a delightful organic process.  There were no points of significant disagreement; maybe some of emphasis, at most.

I was about to say that because we have this shared agreement on how we live life together, there is no need for conflict, but that doesn’t follow: we could still argue over which movie to see.  That doesn’t happen, because the choice of movie is just not that important.  The sense of peace that comes from our joint understanding of how we live our lives together far outweighs my desire to see a particular movie!

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