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.