The only thing that will redeem mankind is co-operation, and the first step towards co-operation lies in the hearts of individuals.
– Bertrand Russell
Our work to know and connect to our innermost core is, by definition, an individual endeavor. And because our lives are inextricably interconnected, our quest also embraces other people and has collective impact.
In A Timeless, Life-Changing Quest, I listed the benefits to be gained from knowing our spacious, attentive core, concluding with…
- I engage people more confidently and compassionately, including strangers and even antagonists. I become more capable of participating in genuine dialogue and creative conflict resolution.
To successfully confront our urgent and critical shared problems we need to listen to one another and work together. This means embracing the proven yet woefully neglected practice of genuine dialogueGenuine dialogue, briefly introduced here, is a powerful, well-defined communication practice that will be discussed in depth in forthcoming essays.. Instead of immediately trying to convince you of the superiority of my point and the folly of yours, in genuine dialogue we begin our discourse by simply seeking to accurately understand each other’s views and the life experiences that led us to them. Engaging each other this way transforms our ability to deal with problems constructively.
As we all experience personally in our own relationships and observe daily in our increasingly polarized public sphere, conducting authentic give-and-take when our views and interests differ can be extremely difficult.
Unfortunately, even in the face of growing urgency, our culture offers little support for this kind of individual and collective development. We even face deeply entrenched socioeconomic and political forces that actively work against our natural desire to become more complete human beings living in a just and healthy society.
Indeed, the opposite ethic is on the rise in the present era of accelerating social and political breakdown. Instead of being encouraged to step back toward the depths of our being where we can produce more creative thoughts and constructive actions, we are cheered and rewarded by our own tribe when we shoot first and question ourselves later (if ever).
Lunging forward in word or deed with an excess of speed and zeal and a deficit of awareness and consideration is prevalent on social media, in our neighborhoods and common spaces, in the halls of government.
But hope is also in the air. Many people express growing alarm and concern about this trend toward knee-jerk adversity and open hostility. Awareness is expanding that we need to reawaken our deep-seated sense of our common humanity if we hope to address today’s urgent crises and create the more beautiful world that we know deep in our hearts is possible.
Despite the sorry state of our body politic today, I believe this revitalization is more achievable now than it has ever been. Our deepening systemic crises may prove to be the catalyst we need to finally break out of long-standing dysfunctional habits and create more life-affirming ways of being together in our shared home.
Not everyone can be on the front lines in the struggle for all that is self-evidently righteous and good – such as human kindness, planetary stewardship, pluralistic society and democratic self-government, and honest communication and genuine dialogue at every level. But everyone earnestly striving to awaken and connect to their core of awareness, love, and strength, and to recognize and appeal to the same in others, advances the noble cause.
The time is now. Our progress as a civilization may well depend on it. And whatever our collective future may hold, our own lives and those of our loved ones will directly benefit by our personal quest to know our expansive, radiant, attentive core.