Saturday, December 13, 2008


Post: "It is winter."
Other hemisphere replies,
"You're an idiot!"

Can you speak without attaching your own thoughts, circumstances, and biases, which are a natural result of your entire life's experiences? Can you listen without doing the same?

Is it someone's role to understand the other's frame of reference and to be accommodating?

Is it ultimately important either to understand or to be understood?

My wife says, "It's cold!"
I, sitting right beside her, say, "No, it's not."

Was she simply expressing her state, or was she fishing for me to turn up the heat or share a blanket? Did I express a simple truth, that I am not cold, or did I tell her that she is wrong? Did she hear that I am not cold, or did she hear me calling her a liar? Maybe we were joking? Maybe we were fighting?

Even such a simple two-line exchange can be interpreted so many different ways, but there is only one way that comes unencumbered by personal "baggage": She feels cold, and I do not. Putting hidden meaning behind what is spoken and wondering about hidden meaning behind what is heard may be entertaining in certain circumstances, but it can be very easy to lose oneself in such a game. Some of the most devastating misunderstandings occur when we do not realize when we are projecting our own thoughts and feelings upon another's words, when we are hearing what we expect to hear rather than what is actually being said.

Given that you have no ability to ensure that any other person sees things clearly, the best you can do is to practice communicating and sensing things clearly yourself, which in turn will at least help you to see when another is not. Then you can decide how to deal with the situation.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Karmic Retribution

They're speaking of me...
I see it - It must be true:
It's what I would do.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wisdom Seen Elsewhere: Projection

I would not have thee believe in what I say nor trust in what I do -- for my words are naught but thy own thoughts in sound and my deeds thy own hopes in action.
From: Khalil Gibran's The Madman, "My Friend."

We were never sure if Grandma kept fresh batteries in her hearing aids or if she simply turned them down and did not think the conversation was worth re-engaging them. Regardless, when confronted about paying attention to a conversation, she would state simply and emphatically,

"I hear what I want to hear!"

When happy, we see beauty in everything. When angry, we see irritation everywhere. When in love, we see passion. Police see suspicious behavior. Citizens see corruption. Friends see enemies. Zealots see zealots.

When, instead of seeing and hearing clearly, you interpret, what is it that you are really seeing or hearing?