Listening As A Source of Radical Kindness and Access to Great Joy


It is some two weeks since I created the possibility of being a source of and clearing for kindness-gentleness-harmony-aliveness.  What is it that which I have become present to over the last two weeks?  I have become present to the power of listening.  And I have noticed that I do not listen – not listening, really listening, is my default way of showing up in the world.  

The seed flowers into a plant when the soil and climate provides a suitable listening for the speaking of that particular seed. It occurs to me that is exactly so for the relating that shows up between myself and my fellows when I create a listening for their speaking. 

Over the last two weeks there have been moments where I have chosen to listen. To truly listen. To be a source of listening for whatever is being spoken or is awaiting a suitable listen in order to speak.  Those, in many ways, show up as the most meaningful-uplifting-gratifying moments of my existence.  It occurs to me that real listening is a small yet radical act of kindness.  Why?

“All humans want to be narrators, but many have difficulties finding listeners.”

– Jalees Rehman

What is it that a human being wishes to narrate?  My experience is that as human beings you/i  wish to narrate (tell the story of) our existence: our hopes and dreams; how the projects that matter to us are going; our joys and sorrows; our ambitions; our triumphs and struggles; our confusion-pain-suffering; and sometimes  just our day as it unfolded for us.  Let’s listen some more to Jalees Rehman:

“Illness is often a time of vulnerability and loneliness. Narrating stories during this time of vulnerability is a way to connect to fellow human beings, which helps overcome the loneliness. The listeners can be family members, friends or even strangers. Unfortunately, many people who are ill do not have access to family members or friends who are willing to listen.”

It occurs to me that illness is not the only time that many of us feel vulnerable and experience loneliness. I say that the existential condition of the ordinary person (that I encounter) is that of vulnerability and loneliness.

I feel vulnerable, you feel vulnerable, we feel vulnerable. And we hide it as best as we can, putting on a brave front and dealing with what needs to be dealt with as best as we can.  Even amidst many I experience loneliness. My experience suggest that many of my fellows experience loneliness when they allow themselves to be present to it.

Our existence does not need to be experienced this way.  I can make a difference. You can make a difference. We can make a difference.  I can choose to be a listening for you. You can choose to be a listening for me.  We can choose to be a listening for one another and all.  I leave you to with the wisdom of Jalees’ grandfather:

“He told me that the opportunity to listen to others was a mutual blessing, both for the narrator as well as the listener.” 

If you wish to read the full story of Jalees and his grandfather then you can do so here.

Giftivism: Transforming Life Through Small Acts of Radical Kindness


I start by gifting you that which shows up for me as a profound truth:

“What we will do for love will always be far more powerful than what we will do for money. What we can do together will always be far greater than what we can do alone.”

– Pavithra Mehta

This wisdom, this truth, this gift found itself to me through coming across and listening to what shows up for me as the most radical-inspiring talk of recent times.

It occurs to me that the being of the speaker and that which the speaker shares is in complete alignment with that which I share in my speaking through this blog. As such I am paying it forward by sharing this profound-radical-inspiring talk with you.

http://youtu.be/p_QLGvp_stI

Here are some words that have caught my attention, may they speak to you and resonate with you. May they act as an opening for you to enter into and lift ‘giftivism’: small acts of radical kindness 

“So in a world where everything has a price — what happens to the priceless?

We live in a time where we have mastered the art of “liking” each other on Facebook but have forgotten the art of loving each other in real life.

Our purpose doesn’t lie in our commodities it lies in our sense of communion …. Compassion. Empathy. Generosity. Trust….

What practices, systems and designs emerge when we believe people WANT to behave selflessly?

Generosity is generative. Everybody wins because generosity is NOT a zero sum game.”

And I leave you with the speakers invitation:

“We begin to move from being a market economy to being part of a gift ecology.

 It begins with small steps. I invite each one of you to think about what your small step will be. What is YOUR giftivist resolution?

May we each take that step. May we change ourselves, may we change the world.”

At your service and with my love

maz

 

Relationship and Connection: Does Every One of Us Needs A Champion?


Rita Pierson is present to the awesome power of relationship, connection, and looking through the lens of possibility.  She sums it up by saying that every kid needs a champion. I say, that every one of us, adult and child, needs a champion.  What kind of champion? Rita provides the answers in her inspiring talk, which I wish to share with you today.

Here are some quotes that speak to me, perhaps they will speak to you as well.

“You know that kids don’t learn from people that they don’t like!”

“Throw in a few simple things like seeking first to understand as opposed to being understood.”

“You say it long enough, it starts to be a part of you.”

“You see -18 sucks all the life out of you, +2 says I aint all bad.”

“You know Mrs Walker you made a difference in my life. You made it work for me. You made me feel like I was somebody when I knew at the bottom I wasn’t. And  I want you to see what I’ve become…”

“She left a legacy of relationships that could never disappear. Can we stand to have more relationships? Absolutely….”

 

The Art of Asking: asking in a way that creates a wonderful world


When you and I are first given our part on the stage of life, life shows up as wondrous.  We live in possibility. More accurately, we are infinite possibility.  Nothing occurs as unreasonable, unrealistic, naive, silly.  We are not present to criticism. Nor have we suffering rejection. Slowly and surely possibility is driven out of us and its place is taken up with right/wrong, good/wrong, appropriate/not appropriate, success/failure. And our house of being is filled with shame, guilt, duty, obligation..

Today, I’d like to get each and every one of us present to possibility once more.  What is possible in the music business if you allow yourself to be vulnerable and simply ask?  That is the answer that Amanda Palmer shares in this fabulous TED talk. I challenge you not to be touched-moved-inspired-uplifted.

This talk gets me present to that which is much neglected: asking/receiving can be a source of contribution when our asking shows up as giving.  The kind of giving that generates possibility – a possibility that enables connection and mutual contribution – and enables a transformation in our experience of living.

Is it possible that the defining act of leadership is generating possibilities that call to our fellow human beings, engender connection, and create an opening for people to join together and co-create a world that works for us all, none excluded?

Am I willing, are you willing, to put in that which is required to play the game of possibility, transformation & leadership?  What am I pointing at?  The courage to connect with our deepest call, the courage to respond to this call, the courage to be vulnerable – to share that which calls us and ask for our fellow human beings to contribute.

Put differently, are you and I willing to generate the courage to ‘play BIG’ and give up ‘playing small’? To choose to be ‘extraordinary’ and risk criticism, even abuse, rather than stay comfortable (and dead) in the ordinary?

Hurt as an access to the possibility of humanity, connection and contribution


Through the news I am aware of the destruction being reaped by Hurricane Sandy.  Where there is destruction there tends to be hurt – people who are hurt and hurting.

We hurt.  We hurt in the sense of experiencing physical pain like that of a twisted ankle. We hurt as in the sense of experiencing emotional pain when it occurs to us that we are looked down upon, excluded, lost a loved one……  We hurt, that is simply what is so and goes along with being human.

What is our default setting towards hurt?  

We do not like to hurt.  I say our idea of the perfect life is life without hurt.   So we go to great lengths to avoid being hurt: we want to survive AND not be hurt.  We want to insulate ourselves from hurt.  Furthermore, we do not see any value in being hurt – hurt shows up for us as purely negative.

Is hurt purely negative?  

Is hurt purely negative?  Is that the way it has to be?  Do we have any choice in the matter of how we act towards and use hurt?  I say that we do. I say that there is another way to be with, and stand in relation to hurt.

I say that hurt can be the access to the possibility of humanity, of connection to our fellow human beings, and of contributing to a world that works.  I got present to this possibility yesterday, let me recount what happened.

Yesterday, reluctantly, I told my eldest son that I would not be able to go with him (today) to see the latest Bond film that he was eagerly waiting to see with me.  He got that I am ill and not in a position to go.

Later, my wife told me that this son of ours (17 years old) had agreed to accompany our youngest (daughter) on her ‘trick and treating’ rounds on Halloween (today).  That showed up as shock for me as the two of them do not get along well. And my oldest does not show up as someone who is into ‘trick and treating’.  Why did my eldest agree?

Hurt.  My wife told me that when she told him that our daughter had no-one else then my eldest agreed to accompany his sister.  Why?  Because he knows the experience of being alone.  He knows the experience of being excluded.  His experience of his later school years was that of being alone, being excluded, being without reliable friends.   Given being present to that experience he could empathise with his sister (humanity), seek her out and tell her that he will take her ‘trick/treating’ (connection and contribution).

I took a look at my life. The hurt of being called a “Paki” and being spat upon (at school) left me with a lived understanding of the impact of intolerance.  And it allowed me to be a stand for tolerance towards my fellow human beings.  To this day, I am proud of the fact that a fellow student and friend chose me as the first person to share his secret – that of being gay.  When I asked him why he chose me?  He told me that he knew I would continue to be his friend and accept him.  I remember the hurt that goes along with being small/powerless and being made to do whatever the authority figures (especially my father) wanted me to do irrespective of my needs, my feeling, me desires for my life.  And this experience of hurt enabled me to experience the hurt of my fellow human beings and thus be a stand for human dignity and freedom.  Which kind of explains why I chose not to have an arranged marriage.  Why I am a life member of Anti-Slavery. Why I placed my children in Montessori education and have encouraged them to speak their minds from the time they were born….. And why I strive to treat my fellow human beings as equals.  Do I always ‘get it right’?  No.  Am I a stand for tolerance-freedom-fairness-equality?  Yes.

Hurt as access to possibility and transformation

Hurt is hurt.  And to be in the world it to live at risk and that includes the risk of being hurt.  That is simply what is so.  What is also so is that our stance towards hurt – how we interpret it, how we use it – is not given.  We have a say in the matter of how we stand in relation to hurt.  You and I can use our hurt and the hurt of our fellow human beings to reach out and connect with one another and be a source of contribution to one another.

Which brings me back to Hurricane Sandy.  I hope that we as human beings will reach out and connect with those of us who are hurting right now in the USA. And I hope that those who are experiencing hurt in the USA will reach out, connect and be a source of contribution who live outside of the USA and are hurting.  You can say that I am a dreamer!

And finally when we use our hurt to put our humanity into the game of life, to connect to our fellow human beings and to be a source of contribution we transform our relationship / orientation / experience towards our own hurt.   Put differently, We can recontextualise our hurt: give it a new meaning, see it in a new light, even see it as a positive.  Perhaps, even something that we would not choose to change even if we were given the opportunity to change it.

 

On speaking


As human beings we speak.  Some even argue that language is what sets us apart – makes us uniquely human.  Yet, it is a gift that most of us are born with and simply take it for granted.  Very few of us really think about this gift and how best to use it.  It kind of reminds me of the community that I grew up in – the muslim community.  Almost everyone was born into and embraced the rituals yet almost no-one had any knowledge or understanding of the genesis of Islam nor the social reform and human centred values that were the foundations of Islam.

So we have a gift – this ability to speak with our fellow wo/man and be understood if we speak the same language.  Now the question is what frame can we put around this gift of speech, of communication?  More importantly, what is the most beautiful use of this gift?

When it comes to frames we have many choices. We can simply put no frame around it and continue as we are: spraying our words all over the place, they land where they land, they have the impact that the have.  We describe stuff, we make up explanations, we complain, we criticise, we gossip behind each others backs, we make up lies, we provide directions, we command, we compliment, we give form to our dreams and so forth.   This is the hidden, taken for granted, frame which gives form to our speaking.

I’d like to suggest a very different frame.  What if each of us, even most of us, were to view gift of speech in a radically different way?  What if we reserved speaking for creating affinity, affection and connection with our fellow human beings.  For example:

  • we share our likes and dislikes and what we want and need from our fellow human beings instead of criticising others – what they have or have not done;
  • giving ourselves and our fellow human beings wings to pursue our interests, ambitions and dreams instead of squelching them out of fear, jealousy or spite;
  • creating affinity and connection with our fellow human beings through acceptance, validation and the generally sharing of our humanity as opposed to creating distance and hatred which is all to common when we criticise, condemn and diminish our fellow human beings;
  • inspiring ourselves and our fellow human beings to bring the best of our humanity – benevolence – into fruit more often in a wider range of situations;
  • providing information – without preaching – that our fellow human beings are likely to find useful in living a good life;
  • to bring into being the kind of world that we want to live as illustrated by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen;
  • talking about and resolving our differences in a way that recognises our need to find solutions that work for us all.

I am suggesting a frame in which our speaking is such that we do not attack, invalidate, exclude and criticise our fellow human beings.  What kind of a world can we create if I was to step into this frame?  And if you were to step into this frame?  And we were to step into this frame?

How about starting the practice, right now, for now to the New Year?  Are you willing to give it a wholehearted go? I am and I hope that you will join me. if you think that this is easy for me then you really do not know me that well!  I have been immersed in the language of criticism from the age of 5 and I mastered it a long time ago.