Friday, August 10, 2007

Weekend: Feathers in the Wind...

One of the things I do after I've found myself in some sort of conflict is to spend some time in quiet thought. It is also when I call in my team of trusted others, those who know me, whom I know and with whom I have a relationship that allows for frank discussion.

One of those people is Ajahn S. I trust his judgment and perception without question.

After Wednesday's conflict, I needed his perspective. I wrote him an email, explaining what had occurred from my perspective, provided him with all the links and relevant data.. and asked him to tell me his thoughts.

He has given me permission to reprint them here. Since English is his second language, I have edited. He has seen it and approved of the changes I made, none of which involve content.

His comments are in italics.

"I don't want to sound like a fortune cookie, but if this roundtable discussion has pushed a button in you that would set you off that severely, then you have been given a great gift. When our behavior is all that we want it to be, we don't learn much of anything about ourselves. You've been given an opportunity to dig into something that gets you right where you live."

It would have been quite a stretch to get me to buy this one on first glance! I didn't feel like I'd been given a gift. It felt more like a sucker punch!

He continues:

"Now, maybe, in order to deal with that, you need to take some time away. Fine. But please don't just turn tail and run. And don't blame it on anyone else. "

It was not and is not my intent to blame anyone else.. or to turn tail and run. What I really want to learn is a way to disagree more effectively, how to use my voice without it getting loud and brash. I want to be heard.. in a gentler way.

"I'm reminded of something someone said to me, many years ago, about mental illness. He said, "Heck, if we could send everybody on an endless cruise -- no stress, no poverty -- there wouldn't _be_ any mental illness." I've always felt that he was exaggerating, but there is a little kernel of truth in what he was saying. It's the things that _stress_ us, that _challenge_ our ideas about ourselves, that teach us most about who we are. I'm not suggesting that you run face-first into an electric fan, but it would be sad and wasteful for you to ignore this opportunity to learn more about yourself. How else can you grow and change for the better?"

This is a good point... but I would like to examine is how we can ALL do this better. I don't mean that in a judgmental sense. What I mean is establishing a way that will give us all the freedom to engage in conflicting opinions without hurting each other. How can we disagree without creating collateral damage? I'm well aware of the fact that I created a bit more than my share. Why do we so often find ourselves in conflict and there are bloody bodies found among the survivors? Others are simply annihilated.

"The way that we can develop compassion for even the people who don't have any compassion is to be able to bear to catch ourselves in the moments when our compassion is missing-in-action or otherwise deficient. If we give into the urge to blame our lapse on the phase of the moon or western technology or whatever, then we miss out on that opportunity, and we'll spend the rest of our lives looking down (however subtly) on others. "

Isn't it true? There is usually something we can manage to find as an object of blame. It would have been different if we'd been in person? It would have been different if the zebra crossed the road at the right time on Tuesday?

That doesn't quite make sense, does it? Not really. We all own our lapses. I own mine.

"So, as I see it, you're at a choice point. Do you scramble madly to distance yourself from your actions and remove any sense of responsibility (that's the clinging-to-the-need-to-be-right part)? Or do you sit down and say, wow, I really did something that I find reprehensible. And you sit with that, literally, in meditation. Poke it, prod it, feel it, feel around it, accept it, reject it, analyze it, fantasize about it, in short -- work through it. Believe me, in the long run, you'll be a far more humane being for doing so. And that is what it's all about, right?"

With loving-kindness,

I think that is what we all wanted. And the further we try to distance ourselves from these issues, the more they repeat themselves. As women, we are not accustomed to conflict or disagreement. We are trained to make nice-nice and never offend. So when the volcano begins to rumble, it can overflow so quickly that it seems spontaneous. During that conflict, I hurt another human being with my words. Words matter. If you don't believe me, take a feather pillow to the top of a mountain, rip it open and let the feathers fly in the wind. Now go try to pick them up. That is what careless speech is like. There is no way to ever take those words back ~ and nothing is ever the same again.

What that does is effectively contribute to silencing all of us ~ making us more reluctant to discuss the important stuff next time ~ even though we have a similar goal, to make the world a better place and to understand and resolve complex issues.

We are all good people.

I believe that. We need to remember that. I need to remember that.

With loving-kindness...


Of course, I would like to hear your views and thoughts on conflict and conflict resolution, how you respond to conflict, how you deal with it.


** Please take a few moments to go this site and offer Jenn some support. Of course, I send all of my best healing thoughts to her.



Snoskred said...

That's one hell of a post, Chani. Adding it to my weekly wrap up. I think it might be post of the week. :)

You're right that it makes us more reluctant to discuss it next time. That goes for all of us, even us outspoken Aussies who usually have no problem throwing our thoughts and opinions out there.

After what happened, and especially the rift between yourself who I consider a good online friend and another good online friend, I truly feel disappointed, upset, lost, and confused.

I contacted both of you and both of you said the same thing, that it's between the two of you. I understand and respect that however if you look you will see that it affects the larger community of bloggers also. Oh, some of them won't mind. Some of them will but they won't say a word because they don't want to offend.

If you were to ask me I would have said that maybe you and I could fall out, have a huge argument, but the two of us would work hard to fix it, like we did that other time. That's because I value your friendship greatly and I am not willing to let it go over an argument.

I never expected this to happen and to be honest it's upset me so much I've thought about walking away from blogging all together.

All of a sudden the blogging community that I valued so much, that I thought was built on strong foundations, where I thought we could all discuss things and agree to disagree and accept each others opinions without hurting each other.. it seems like flimsy cardboard instead of solid rock.

I guess there's a choice - walk away offended, or choose to dive in and try to sort it out even though it will hurt and not be altogether pretty but at the end of the day will leave stronger friendships as a result.

But right now, I'm going to drive to purchase season 7 of the west wing and get lost in watching it, hoping when I get back here things will have resolved somehow. That won't happen without some work, I expect. I believe it's worth doing. But to each their own.

jen said...

Your friend is very wise. very much so. how wonderful to have someone like that to go to and seek wisdom from.

flutter said...

Chani, you have rather pulled my ass out of the fire and I appreciate you more than I can say.

Thank you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Chani, you are most blessed to have the guidance and loving kindness of Ajahn S. He is not only teaching you to be a good Thai person, but even more importantly, to be the very best version of yourself every day.

We all need to be reminded how to do that from time to time.

I feel honored to read his words in this space, and to be privileged to learn this lesson with you.

Namaste to you and your esteemed teacher.

Hel said...


Thank you.

All week I have been struggling with this. I want to turn towards the conflict at work and learn from it. I recognize the things I can change. But I find them so overwhelmingly part of who I am that I want to rather run in the opposite direction shouting f-off reality. This is too hard. This is not fair.

Your message was from that place i-don't-know-where-it-is-but-wisdom-and-compassion-hangs-out-there

It means a lot.

Seeing you keeping on searching for that place reminds me where my path is when I get lost.

slouching mom said...

Wow. The pillow feathers analogy?


thailandchani said...

Snos, I had to do some thinking before addressing this.

I need to ask you to let this go.

There are a few things.. here.. to consider.

This conflict.. with the other woman.. is not a cat fight. It's not a "girl fight". We are two mature, intelligent women whose wires got crossed. We both said some hurtful things.

It happens. It happens in communities all the time. It's not forever. It's not permanent.

We don't "hate" each other.. or wish each other ill-will. I have just as much respect for her as I ever had. I still like her.

And I know we are both women of integrity.

Sometimes things take time to process through. For me. For her. We're just taking a break from each other right now. That's all.

This isn't for anyone else to get involved in. I trust me. I trust her. I ask you to trust me. I ask you to trust her. And when the time is right, we will meet at the table.


Jen, there are times when I've wondered if it would have been even remotely possible for me to grow as much as I have.. without him.


Flutter, you are welcome.. any time.. I hope you know that.


Susan, thanks. I'm assuming at this point he is probably reading these comments.. so he will see it, too. Lessons are learned the hard way for me.. often.. It's something I've learned to live with. :)


Hel, I feel the same way so often. I dislike conflict intensely.. and I'm not always good at dealing with it. Sometimes I wonder if we all just had different skills, more skills, more compassion.. something.. if much of this could be prevented.

You're right about where it comes from.


SM, thanks. I can't recall where I heard that exactly. I think my mother might have taught me that.. when I was a kid.

Needless to say, I didn't always listen, created some hard situations that were object lessons.





Snoskred said...

I don't know, Chani. Right now I'm feeling a few things myself. I'll think about it some more and send you an email when I have some thoughts together.


painted maypole said...

I am so impressed by your constant search to be better. Not what the world thinks is better, but what YOU know to be better, what you want for yourself. Your willingness to dig deeper.

mitzh said...

Your very has a very wise words to share..Very inspiring indeed.

Susanne said...

I'll be thinking about this for a while. Again. Thank you and thank you to your friend.

(And only now did I realize that you changed the colors on your blog. Much easier to read now. I like it very much.)