It is an appropriate time of the year to reflect on the words of some great spiritual teachers as this reflection can enable us to develop a life of peace with ourselves and with our fellow human beings. Let us start with Jesus’ words “I am the Way, the Reality and Life” and Buddha’s words “The finger pointing to the Moon is not the Moon”. Jesus was not referring to himself as a unique way to salvation but he was referring to the nature of an “Absolute Reality” that is at the core of every human being, the “Christ” in each of us. Buddha was clearly indicating that Buddha or his teachings are not the Enlightenment in itself or a part of his unique being only, instead it is the “finger pointing”, the Way that is inherently part of the life of all human beings. Hence, whether you call it “Absolute Reality”, “Christ”, “I am”, The Way, Buddha nature”, it is all within ourselves and it is covered by a layer that we call our “Ego” or our “Self”.
The Ego is a result of human nature being convinced that our thoughts are identical to our core, they are what we are. Our thoughts, the way we think about ourselves and others have been formed over the time that human mankind has been living on this planet. Our Ego is composed by our thoughts and emotions, and is a collection of personal and collective memories with which we identify ourselves as “I” or “My story”, a set of roles that we are playing based on our cultural, social, and psychological background.
Therefore, communication with others is taking place on the level of our individual or collective Ego’s. Hence, it is not strange that through our communication based on our ego’s we are not able to solve conflicts, as the starting point is already an internal conflict between our Ego and our “Absolute Reality”. Whenever we are complaining, criticizing, judging, wanting to be right, we create or sustain conflicts, because we are using a language of violence.
In non-violent communication we make use of a process based on compassion that identifies and respects the feelings and needs of ourselves and others. The observation, without any form of interpretation or judgment is where the process starts, an observation that takes place without any interference of our Ego. An observation can only take place without interference of the Ego if we are fully present in the moment, if there is no past and no future. Hence, ideally in our observation we are only mindful of our experience, a state in which we are aware of our “Absolute Reality”.
It is in the process of communicating our observation, either a sensory or an intuitive observation that our Ego can interfere. In non-violent communication we initiate a process to identify and communicate the feelings and needs of the other and ourselves.
In this process there is a risk, especially if the process of non-violent communication is applied in mechanistic way, that the desire to meet each other feelings and needs are being used to sustain and grow our Ego’s. Only if we compassionately continue to see every human being’s intrinsically identical “Absolute Reality”, going beyond our very different Ego’s, we will be able to develop a relation based on respect and that will lead to inner peace. Compassionate communication is not about applying another new methodology, analyses, categorization, tool, tricks, etc.
However, being all perfectly imperfect human beings, our journey towards personal and collective peace will make it a bumpy ride, a ride with up and downs, a ride without a destiny, and a ride that will lead to inner growth.
The starting point of our journey is in practicing self-control, every time we have an opinion, a judgment, or an intellectual analyses ready, to pause and wonder how we would look at our observation without any prior knowledge and prior experience, without any expectations about a desired outcome. The starting point is in compassionate listening, listening to ourselves and the other, being mindful in the moment and thereby creating a brand new moment in which we can discover the “Absolute Reality” of ourselves and the other person.
In their book “The Power of Giving” Azim Jamal and Harvey McKinnon argue the benefits of "giving." Their philosophy is that the more you give - in time, love, kindness, and sometimes money - the more you have. And that "giving" is the most productive way to increase the well being of the giver and the world.
A great exercise for your soul is the practice of giving. As with physical exercise, the more you do it, the easier it is, and the stronger you will become. Giving can also reduce your fears. That's because giving promotes social connections, which provide you with greater security.
Do you live in fear of economic disaster? Do you worry about caring for your parents or getting your children through college? Do you worry about losing your good health? Do you fear that crime, war, or terrorist attacks will disrupt the economy and your security? These are legitimate concerns that many people share. We live in difficult and uncertain times, but are these fears real? Research shows that people who watch a lot of news on television overestimate the threats to their well-being. Why? Because television focuses on news that makes the world seem like a more dangerous place than it actually is. Afraid of the world that is portrayed on TV, people "cocoon," staying in their homes with close family, and do not build bonds with their neighbours. Thus they become more vulnerable.
The best way to confront your fears is to begin the process of making a difference. The root causes of "dangers" are often the result of social problems that have been ignored. But you can make a commitment to do what you can to eliminate the conditions that cause the potential crises. By facing your fears and working to change their root causes, you overcome them. Giving is a key part of this process because giving reduces self-centeredness. It can make you more connected to others, and this connection will reduce fear and isolation.
Rumi, a 13th-century Persian mystic, told of a man who walked past a beggar and asked, "Why, God, do you not do something for these people?" God replied, "I did do something. I made you." When Rumi wrote these words, he was addressing our ability to choose what we do, our ability to reach our potential.
Most people use only a tiny portion of their potential, and many never find their true gift or calling in life. They never find a worthwhile cause to support, a cause that really means something to them and makes a difference in their lives. But when you give to others, or give of yourself to meaningful causes, things change. You expect more of yourself. You discover new feelings of self-worth. Indeed, you begin to tap into your true gifts and talents. And when you do that, you can achieve your full potential as you help yourself and others…
According to the great teacher J. Krishnamurti, "The sole purpose of education is to help find out what you, with all your heart, must love to do!"