In 1996 His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited my hometown and delivered a public speech at the Cape Town City Hall – the same venue from whence Nelson Mandela gave his inaugural presidential speech two years prior. I was struck by the central theme of the speech: a call to inner disarmourment together with a caution that our attempts at world peace will only bear fruit once we disarm ourselves – not merely from without – but also from within.
Neuroscience now shows us that feelings like hostility and self-righteousness are addictive because they are so energising in the short term. How might we galvanise inner energy resources (rather than fuel addictive mental states) when faced with competing agendas and complex dilemmas? How does one live harmlessly at least; harmoniously at best, with one’s neighbours let alone one’s adversaries? How do I stand up for what I believe to be true and just in a way that keeps me in right relation with those who hold a different perspective?
May these reflections offer support:
Remembering an interaction where being with someone very different to me was a surprisingly positive experience.
Remembering a contradiction or confrontation that led to increasing awareness and authentic connection (rather than escalating into conflict or withdrawal).
- How have these encounters shaped me, and us?
- When are we, and our differences, in harmony (rather than discord)? Why so?
- What do I choose to keep in; keep out; let in and let out, that nurtures healthy, permeable boundaries between me and you?
- What inner armour am I ready to put down? What will that awaken in me?
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