The key to painless growth is humility, which amounts to merely dropping pridefulness and pretense and accepting fallibility as a normal human characteristic of self and others. Continue reading
I feel it is very important to ask fundamental questions and to keep on asking them without trying to find an answer, because the more you persist in asking fundamental questions, demanding, inquiring, the sharper and more aware the mind becomes. Continue reading
Born on the northeast coast of England, of Viking and Welsh ancestry, I grew up as a granddaughter of the Empire and daughter of the Commonwealth. As a young girl in the years following the First World War, I puzzled and then grieved that the men came back so hurt—legs lost, difficulty breathing––and so many dead. How could we have done this? I wondered. Why couldn’t we have talked it through? This was a question that really mattered to me.
Later, studying the armistice conditions ending the war, it became very clear that the lack of ongoing and authentic dialogue among nations created conditions for future conflict. I determined that, when I grew up, I would study ways in which these mistakes would not be repeated.
But then, instead of peace, World War II came, and I spent almost five years in the Royal Air Force. The overarching mission was simple: survive, defeat Nazism, end holocausts, and make the world safe for democracy. In the course of wartime, I lost friends, comrades, and home. One searing experience in Europe, in which I encountered ambulatory Jews being brought out of the camps, caused me to ask my commanding officer: Sir, how could we have done this? He snapped that of course, we had not done this, they had. Yet I knew that, somehow, our human community as a whole had failed in the face of these atrocities.
In my contemplation and study of these questions, it became clear to me that every societal change process I knew of started with an informal conversation in which men and women—young or old—were witnessed and “heard into speech,” sharing their dreams and hopes for making a difference around something they cared about. In being truly seen and heard, people discovered their mutual commitment to act and were transformed.
A king went to a Zen master to learn gardening. The master taught him for three years, and the king had a beautiful, big garden – thousands of gardeners were employed there – and whatsoever the master would say, the king would go and experiment in his garden. After three years the garden was absolutely ready, and the king invited the master to come and see the garden. The king was very nervous because the master was strict: “Will he appreciate?” This was going to be a kind of examination: “Will he say, ‘Yes, you have understood me’?” Every care was taken. The garden was so beautifully complete; nothing was missing. Only then did the king bring the master to see it. Continue reading
What does life expect from me? What is the meaning of my life? Where is the meaning in my life? The answers to these questions are extraordinarily hopeful. Every life counts, and each person has a valuable role to play. Continue reading
The more I am open to the realities in me and in the other person, the less do I find myself wishing to rush in to “fix things.” As I try to listen to myself and the experiencing going on in me, and the more I try to extend that same listening attitude to another person, the more respect I feel for the complex processes of life. So I become less and less inclined to hurry in to fix things, to set goals, to mold people, to manipulate and push them in the way that I would like them to go. I am much more content simply to be myself and to let another person be himself. Continue reading
I have found that truly to accept another person and his feelings is by no means an easy thing, any more than is understanding. Can I really permit another person to feel hostile toward me? Can I accept his anger as a real and legitimate part of himself? Can I accept him when he views life and its problems in a way quite different from mine? Can I accept him when he feels very positively toward me, admiring me and wanting to model himself after me? All this is involved in acceptance, and it does not come easy. Continue reading