Live Peacefully with All
Cultivate Loving Speech and Deep Listening
Often times we find that things people say to us and how people act toward us seem insensitive at best and hostile or aggressive at worst. We want to respond in kind. They deserve a good rebuttal, we think. They shouldn’t get away with acting like that, we should call them out, we think. The reason we object to the way we are treated is that we believe that acting with love and kindness is the appropriate way to treat others. So what then? Should we join in acting inappropriately and turn around and give them a dose of their own medicine? Responding in kind serves to escalate conflict versus the real goal. The real goal being to live peacefully, acting with love and compassion.
This is where we need to keep our eye on the ultimate prize, as defined by our own objections to other people’s actions. If we want there to be peace, we must act with love and compassion. This doesn’t mean we should ignore bad behavior. It means that we need to address it. How we address it is key. The foundation of conflict is rooted in misconceptions. The people in our lives have misperceptions, as do we, ourselves. Fear, anger, and despair are all born of wrong perceptions. Understanding these misconceptions leads us on a pathway of healing. How to proceed? Loving speech and deep listening are compassionate ways to address the conflict that arises in our lives.
First, we must be open and honest. In order to deeply listen to our counterparts, we have to want to understand where they are coming from and be ready to listen to what they have to say. If they feel that we aren’t being upfront, that can impede their willingness to share. We can start by saying something like “I know you are suffering and I have not really understood your difficulties.” By letting them know that we want to understand where they are coming from, it opens the door for them to discuss their struggles.
Once the lines of communication are open, it is time for deep listening. This means listening through misperceptions and bitterness. Instead of responding and giving advice, just hear what the person is telling you. This kind of compassionate listening allows the speaker to empty their heart and helps him or her to suffer less. As we listen, it may occur to us that some of the suffering that is faced is due to misunderstandings and misconceptions which the speaker holds. This is not the time to correct wrong perceptions. Keep the end goal in mind of allowing this person to unburden themselves. Just listen, so the speaker can unburden their heart and, in doing so, his or her suffering is lessened. As we practice deep listening, we work toward ending the fear and anger born of misperceptions, we work toward conflict resolution and peace.