Monday, March 6, 2017

RELATING, Yogeshwar Muni

All of life is made up of relating.  Even when you are alone in your room you are still being alone in relationship to others.  Being alone is actually a form of relating because the fundamental relationship you have with others is still there.  If you were alone in your room you might be reading a book, and this would be relating to the author of the book.  Or you might just be thinking.  This thinking is a form of relating with others because it would not occur if your fundamental relationship with others did not exist in the first place.  The activity of this fundamental relationship is what we call relating and it is far more than just the exchange of ideas, although it certainly would include that exchange.  Relating has to do with our whole interaction and becoming conscious of each other at every level, from the most mundane to the ultimate, final union.  In fact, our relating is all that is going on in life. Talking with each other, going to work, raising kids, being alone, writing books, washing dishes, going to war, praying, worshiping, loving and hating, and living and dying are all forms of our relating with each other.  Because of the fact that all there ultimately is is you and another, or otherness, or God, this relating goes on in all its forms which, when taken altogether, we call life.  This fundamental relationship we have is life, and the sole activity in life can be called relating.  Therefore, relating is certainly the central issue in one's life and spiritual endeavor.

It is useful to begin to recognize the extent of our relating with each other.  It is easy to see that you are relating when you call a friend on the phone or when you are out on a date with someone.  But you are also relating with others when you are driving down a street which has other people driving on it.  When you are asleep in your room you are involved with others when you dream.  If it were not for your fundamental relationship with others you would have nothing to dream about.  Even if you aren't dreaming you are relating with the people who built your house because you are in it.  You are relating with the people who manage the electrical generator which keeps your alarm clock going while you sleep.  If the roof of your house suddenly caved in, you would probably call up the builders and change the form of your relating with them.  Instead of sleeping in the house they built and not thinking about it much, you would be talking with them to find out what happened and who was responsible.  You see, you were relating with them all the time anyway.  These are all examples of relating in one form or another.

Because we are already in a relationship with each other, we are relating all of the time.  You cannot be in a relationship and not be relating.  There are many people on earth whom you have never met but nevertheless you are relating with each one all of the time because that potential for increased contact is always there.  Your contact with them now may seem very slight, but it is there, along with the constant potential for more.  This is what is meant by the phrase, "the whole world is one family."  We aren't trying to be one family, we are one family.  This is the nature of our relationship.

Relating, when taken in this light, is a big project.  It is a big project because it is the only project that is going in life.  It is the only thing we are up to and it is going on whether or not we like it.  Therefore, since relating is going on anyway, one will make the best progress in life by recognizing this and beginning to relate in a way that is consistent with our true nature and the inherent direction of life.  The inherent direction of life or of our relationship is that we are becoming more conscious of each other, which is another way of saying that we are becoming more conscious of God, or more in union with God.

The 21 Maxims of Understanding which are given below are consistent with our true nature and the on-going direction of life.  These maxims will give you a frame-work in which to begin to improve your ability to relate with others at the down-to-earth, people-to-people level.  One can spend a lifetime working at improving his mastery of applying these principles.  They provide, also, a good basis on which to begin.  If one cannot relate at the simple, down-to-earth, person-to person level, then there is little hope of progressing much in life, of being successful or satisfied, or of reaching the deeper levels of fulfillment which are available in the process of spiritual practice.

First, read these maxims and my comments and try to understand why they are the way they are.  If you do not understand them, or just have questions about how they apply to your life, get these questions answered from your course instructor.  Once you understand or have a sense of why these maxims are the way they are, it will be easier for you to apply them to your life.

The 21 Maxims of Understanding

1.  Be conscious that understanding is the only way to resolve interpersonal relationships.

Knowing that understanding provides the only resolution to human relationships will help you a lot, because then you will not try other ways.  You will not try to manipulate, bribe, cheat, or force people.  You will know that, in the end, interpersonal relationships can only be resolved through understanding.

2.  Be conscious of what understanding is.

Understanding is the result of communication.  Communication is when the state or thought originated by the person who is trying to communicate is received in the consciousness of the person to whom he is trying to communicate.  Then, understanding is achieved.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to achieve understanding.  No one can understand something that is beyond his own inner or personal experiences.  For example, if you have had a personal experience of God then no matter what words you use or how long you persevere you will not be able to get another person to appreciate that experience until he has had one like it.  Only after he has had one like it will he say, "Oh, that's what you are talking about."  The state of enlightenment is another example.  These ultimate states can be presented but they cannot be successfully communicated unless the other person has had an experience like it himself.  Therefore, do not try to resolve everything by communication or try to force an understanding.  If others have not had that inner experience, then there is nothing you can do; there is no bell to ring in the other person's consciousness.  The bell has to be there first, then you can ring it.  That bell is the other's own experience in that general area of life.  If another's response indicates that he has some experience of what you are talking about, then understanding is possible.  If there is nothing there, it is pointless to go on.  You have to let go of your urge to be understood and allow others to grow in their own time.

3.  Consider the other a non-physical entity.

Consider the other as a conscious being, not just a body or a thing.  Communication is only possible if you do this.

4.  A non-understanding brought up between individuals can now be resolved.

There are a lot of misunderstandings between people.  In fact, most things are not understood.  However, an issue will only be resolved if you bring it up.  You will never reach an understanding by avoiding an issue.

People often think, "I used to get along well with him but now we don't understand each other."  The truth is they never did understand each other and this is just now coming to light.  In the beginning there may have been some love, attraction, and affection, which is all to the good, but they did not truly understand each other.  Once understanding is achieved, to that extent it cannot be removed.

5.  Put yourself second.

Let others have their turn first.  You be the listener.  Do not insist on getting your point across first.  If two people have understood this principle, there is no problem.   Each one is willing to wait for the other, so one of them just goes ahead.

6.  Face the crisis.

Once you make up your mind that you are going to stay with something until it is complete, it goes much more easily.  Once you make the decision and stay with it, then you start to make progress.

7.  Watch to see if the other is understanding you.

Do not leave it up to the other to acknowledge an understanding.  Watch him and see whether he understands what you are communicating.  Ask him what you said, if necessary.  The reason frustrated teachers give tests all the time is not because they want to see how much you know, but because they want to find out how much they have gotten across to you.  They are trying to find out whether they are communicating or not.  Watch and see if you are succeeding in getting your communication across.  If not, then do what would be effective.

8.  Do not go on to another word, sentence, or idea, until the one that you are on is understood.

If you keep stacking one incomplete communication on top of another, soon you will just get a jam-up of communication with no understanding.  This is typical of husbands and wives, and people who live together.  They constantly interrupt each other before a communication is complete.  The verbal part of most close relationships can be straightened out by simply getting the people to stop interrupting each other.

For example, one says, "Now listen, Betty, the reason why our relationship is not working is because every time I start to talk to you, you start blaming me."

Betty says, "No I don't!"

He says, "Yes you do!" She says, "No I don't!"

This kind of interruption goes back and forth.  Whenever anyone starts to blame someone, the other one immediately starts to defend himself, and an understanding is impossible to reach.

An alarm clock can be used effectively for two people to communicate without interrupting.  The clock should be set for five minutes.  One person gets to talk for the first five minutes.  When the alarm rings then the roles are reversed and the clock is again set for five minutes.  The listening partner may be sitting there burning, blaming the other for saying all these untrue things.  He automatically wants to defend himself.  However, if he will not interrupt - and sometimes to do this the person will have to grip his chair until his knuckles turn white - then he will see what the other person is trying to say.  He will see what is behind their blame.  Then he gets his turn, and the other person will not interrupt him.

The verbal part of a relationship can be straightened out by effectively invoking the non-interruption rule.  A therapist might just sit there with them, and make sure they did not interrupt each other.  That is all he would have to do.  After awhile, the communication will start to flow in a realistic manner because each detail would be understood before going on to the next point.

9.  Do not go off the subject until it is completed.

When I was a teenager, we used to have regular family dinners; the whole family sat down and had meals together.  I used to try to bring the conversation around to the original subject because I wanted to finish it.  I ended up getting furious, slamming down my fork, and stomping off.  I was upset because the subject was not being completed, and we were not getting anywhere.  As it turned out, they did not care to get anywhere, and were not trying to arrive at anything.  It was just a social scene.  It was my mistake to think that they were actually trying to communicate with each other.  I went outside to find someone who wanted to communicate as I did.  I was fortunate enough to find a few such people.

If you are sitting around the dinner table, and you are just chit-chatting, talking about whatever - the President, the water shortage, and whatever the conversation wanders to - then it is fine to wander.  However, when you are trying to communicate, stay on the subject until it is understood and completed.

10.  If a person is critical of you, he feels that there is something that you should understand that he has not communicated to you.

A person may withhold a communication or it may be that you have been very resistant about understanding it.  In any case, he is trying to communicate something to you.  He is trying to get something across.  Maybe he is afraid to mention it.  However, whatever it is, he still wants to have it be communicated.  If that communication does not occur, he will get frustrated and become critical of you.  He will think you are no good, dumb, and not what you say you are.  He will start putting you down.  It may not necessarily be your fault at all that the communication is not being made.

For example, suppose a private in the Army has been trying to get a message to the lieutenant colonel.  Now there is usually no way for him to get the message across because the private has to tell the corporal who has to tell the sergeant, who has to tell the lieutenant who has to tell the major, who has to tell it to the colonel.  After awhile, he is going to start calling the colonel stupid, "He's an ignorant fool.  He won't listen to anything."

Criticalness comes from thinking you should communicate and not having that happen, no matter whose fault it is.  Fault has nothing to do with it. Teachers in school are normally put down by their students because the students are trying to get some communication across to their teachers, and they are not able to do it, for whatever the reason.

When people are free to communicate and do, criticalness goes away.  It is a marvellous way to get rid of negativity.  In our spiritual community, every once in awhile I ask those who live there to write down all the things they did that they think they should not have done, or did not do that they think they should have done.  These are the things they think they should have communicated, and have not.  They write me these things, I read their communications, and for a week or two, the negativity decreases.  Then, it starts building up again.  After awhile it occurs to me that I need to tell them again to write down the things that they feel they should communicate.

11.  Be willing to take forever.

The willingness to take as much time as is needed will melt away the resistance to communication.

12.  Space your times, but do not give up.

Do not try to communicate everything totally, at once.  Take the time, the right time, when it is likely that you will get your communications across.

13.  See what background thoughts the other needs to have in order to understand the key thought, but do not lose the key thought.

Suppose you tell someone, for example, that you are working on a 704 computer.  This is the key thought, but to get that message across you have to give them the background information that a 704 computer is an IBM computer that uses punch cards.  It is not one of those sophisticated electronic computers.  It is just a simple computer.  You must give them the background and then tell them you work on one of those 704 computers.  Always get back to the key thought after having given the background.

The danger in giving background is that you get lost in it.  Remember what you are trying to communicate.  If you have your own thought clear on what it is that you are trying to communicate, then you will not get lost in giving background information.

14.  Separate the individual from the way he reacts.

Keep your attention on the individual.  No matter what he does, keep your attention on that individual as a conscious being.  Ignore the reaction.  Do not pretend reactions are not there, but ignore them.  Just go right on with what you are trying to accomplish.

15.  It is your responsibility to see that the understanding is complete even though the other has choice.

The other can refuse to receive a communication, but if you want communication to take place, it is up to you to see that it happens.  Do not put the blame on the other by thinking, "I told him, and if he didn't hear it, I can't help it.  I left a note on the chair, and he didn't see the note.  I did my job."  No, you did not do your job.  If you want the communication to occur, it is your job to get it across.  Yes, the other has his choice, and can refuse the communication.  However, if he refuses, he refuses, and he knows he has refused.  It is up to you to get the communication right into the center of his consciousness.  Do not put the blame on other people for communications not happening.

This also holds true for receiving communications.  If you want to receive a communication, then you see to it that you understand what it is that they are trying to tell you.  It is up to you to get the message.  If you take that approach, your communications will go much better.

16.  Be exact.

Say what you mean, mean what you say.  People are often very sloppy and indirect because they are afraid that a direct communication will be rejected.  It might be.  You might not always be able to be completely direct, but you should be exact.  You should know what you are trying to communicate.

If necessary you can say, "I have a direct communication to make but if I say it to you, I am concerned that you will take offense. What do you suggest we do?"  In this way you invite the other's cooperation.

Since his curiosity is aroused at this point, the other person will usually say, "Go ahead, tell me." You say, "What are we going to do?  If I tell you, I am afraid that you will take offense, that you will be hurt, and I do not want to hurt you."

The other person says, "Look, if you care about me that much, how could I take offense?  I would appreciate it if you would tell me because I want to know."

In this way you have prepared the way.  Now you tell him the exact communication.

17.  Acknowledge to the other often that he is relating to you by choice.

People do not have this internal certainty that they are in life by their own choice.  They often feel that they are being forced, pressured, and pushed.  In my spiritual community, I have this problem sometimes.  A person will feel like he has to do his work.  The truth is that he has his choice.  I always remind people that they have their choice and can do anything they want to do.  However, if they choose to do whatever they want to do, then the choice would be to leave the spiritual community.  But that is truly a choice.  When people realize that you know that they have a choice, your community will go much better.

18.  Acknowledge when and what you have understood.

When you have understood something, you should acknowledge it.  You should only acknowledge what you have understood.  Do not acknowledge more or less than what you have understood.  If you have understood something, then let the other person know that you have understood that.

19.  Use all the communication channels possible to receive everything the other is presenting.

The verbal channel is one channel.  Also include inflection, gesture, emotional states, and whatever other channels are real to you in receiving communication.  Use whatever channels possible, but do not exclude the verbal channel.  For example, if you could communicate by telepathy with your eyes closed, fine.  However, you should not rely solely on that channel.  Include all channels:  verbal, mental, telepathy, emotions, and any others possible to you.  Be willing to use all channels.

20.  Seek to be conscious of the other in all his communications.

Seek not only to be conscious of another's communications, but seek to be conscious of that being.  In the end, that being is the only message there is.  The message of the being, and all the various aspects of that being, is the only message there fundamentally is.  What you are really trying to communicate is you.  Others are trying to communicate who and what they are.  Therefore, when you are communicating with people, be open to understanding or communicating with the being.  In the end, that is all there is to communicate.  This is a powerful principle.

21. Realize that potential contact is always there with all individuals.

People always want to communicate.  They may say they want you to leave them alone and then lock themselves in the bathroom.  They may say they do not want to talk to you, but they do.  They are doing it right at that moment.  They are saying that they do want to talk to you.  That is their communication.  Even if they are dead silent in a schizophrenic coma, they are saying, "I'm in this schizophrenic coma.  Look at me.  Look at this.  Look at this state I am in.  Look what has happened.  This is what life has brought to me."  They are communicating intensely.

Realize that the possibility of contact is always there.  No one ever refuses in the end.  They may drag things out a bit, but in one way or another, they are always communicating, and they always want to communicate.  If you have that certainty in your own heart, there is no one who can turn you away.  Sometimes you may choose not to bother with some people because they are so difficult to communicate with.  That is all right.  But know that you could; know that the potential is always there.  If they are in life, no matter what they say, they want to communicate.  Otherwise, they would not be in life, and you would not even know about them.

These are the twenty-one maxims of understanding.  There are probably more, but these are important ones that I found through my years of research.

Communication is a sacred trust.  People do not normally look at it that way, but the fact is that it is.  If you respect the choice and beingness of the one with whom you are communicating, whether he is the sender or the receiver, then communication can take place.  If you violate that, you are violating the two basic things that he is trying to communicate:  that he is a conscious being, and that he does have choice.  It becomes a sacred trust because communication is the fabric of which life itself is made.  Without it we would have no consciousness of anything.  Consciousness, life itself, comes from the interaction between beings.  Without it, you are in a void.  It is sacred because what you really want is to have that interaction.  It is sacred because that interaction must be at the highest level to be satisfactory.  People do not really want interaction that is at the lowest level.  If you abuse it, then you will withdraw yourself from it, and isolate yourself.  If you treat your communication in a sacred manner, then your life will be much better.  I know this is not the human way, but I think it is time that we humans respect not only each other, but our relationships.

To help you begin to apply these maxims to your life, we have a dyad exercise called Relating Exercises.  One of the biggest barriers people have in relating, especially in the beginning, is that they themselves do not feel understood or received by others with regard to the things in their life which really mean the most to them.  These Relating Exercises are a powerful tool; one which has been worked out through extensive research.  They give a person the structure and situation in which he can actually get himself understood.  In addition, because of the dyad structure, there is also the opportunity to improve your skills at listening and trying to understand what others have to communicate about themselves.  Once you have a good measure of this actual state of affairs in which you are understood by another, as well as having opened up in your own understanding of others, then you can begin to apply the 21 Maxims of Understanding to your everyday life with observable, significant results.

When you make real progress in your ability to relate with others, it effects every other aspect of your life.  Because every aspect of your life is in one way or another involved with your relationship with others. Relating is fundamental to all aspects of life.  It is even more fundamental than our own survival.  Many people have thought that we relate with each other so that we may survive.  In fact it is the other way around:  we survive in order to relate.  As you proceed in your course material this will become clearer and more real to you.

When you do these Relating Exercises, apply yourself as well as you can.  You may well come up against a crisis where you don't feel you can go on with the exercise.  You may think, "It's stupid," or "I can't think of anything to say."  You might begin to feel emotions welling up.  You might not.  The point is that the more you involve yourself with these exercises the more you will be exposing those things you have been holding back:  communications, emotions, willingness to be in contact with another, and who knows what else.  Let the power of these exercises work for you within the safe structure of the dyad format, and then when you are outside of the structure you will find you can relate more easily and successfully.

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