This is a work in progress, but I wanted to at least make a start in writing about the three cornerstones of who I strive to be.
Being present: Focusing on the right kind of thinking, for example, not regretting the past or living in fear of the future. Being present means not letting the experience of the moment slip by because I’m caught in thinking about the past or the future, obsessing over what-if scenarios, etc. It means getting into deep connection with what is actually observable, both externally in the world and internally in my psyche.
From being present, I can stay balanced (equanimity), have accurate observations, and make clear discernment regarding my feelings.
At the same time, I strive to develop the skills to enter into a place of non-resistance, non-judgement, and non-attachment. I am not resisting the future, I am not judging the present, I am not attached to the past.
The above comes out of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and A New Earth. From there,
Feelings are experienced fully and in the present
Needs are discerned
After consideration of those needs, requests or actions are taken
This comes from Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication.
The third aspect of the triangle comes from Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy, which is vast and from which I take only a small fragment for this diagram:
Looking at the needs that I have discerned and determining if they are coming from a place of the lower ego (distrust, selfishness, anger, guilt, shame, etc)
Returning to the present to transform the lower ego needs
If coming from the higher ego (compassion, love, forgiveness, empathy, etc), expressing or acting on those needs.
That’s about as clear as I can say it at the moment–it doesn’t feel completely clear, but at least it’s a start!
When we change our relationship with the past, it changes our experience of the present and what we can accomplish in the future.
I suppose this is at the core of psychoanalysis, the Sunday sermon, the self-improvement books, the meditations, the vision quests, or whatever it is that floats your boat. But really think about it for a minute – actually, really feel it. We’ve all had experiences where we’ve changed our relationship with something in the past – we come to an understanding of someone’s actions (or a deeper understanding of our own), we forgive a person (or ourselves), we gain some knowledge, some perspective, that brings us into a different relationship with our past. And some of those “shifts” result in us seeing ourselves and the world in a new, sometimes subtly different, sometimes dramatically different way. We experience the present with a new quality, a new awareness, a new wakefulness. And our experience of the present has a direct impact on us, it shapes what we do each moment, and in that shaping, it shapes our future.
For my part, how much more useful therapy sessions would have been if I had fully understood that the intent of therapy is to change my relationship with the past. Two things:
changing my relationship, not me
and in that intention, in changing my relationship, I do change.
Productive stupidity means being ignorant by choice. Focusing on important questions puts us in the awkward position of being ignorant. One of the beautiful things about science is that it allows us to bumble along, getting it wrong time after time, and feel perfectly fine as long as we learn something each time. No doubt, this can be difficult for students who are accustomed to getting the answers right. No doubt, reasonable levels of confidence and emotional resilience help, but I think scientific education might do more to ease what is a very big transition: from learning what other people once discovered to making your own discoveries. The more comfortable we become with being stupid, the deeper we will wade into the unknown and the more likely we are to make big discoveries.
This transition, from learning what other people know to making our own discoveries, is difficult in other fields as well, from computer programming to spiritual research. But it sure is fun!
Thanks to Henry Minute on the Code Project for pointing out this article, which is how I came across it.