The morning chorus is broken by an even louder noise, a howler monkey barking in the canopy of trees lining the hillside of the river. The locals call these monkeys ‘congos’. Like an alarm clock, the primal bellow of his sounds rumbles through Philia awakening everyone and everything to a new day. The tips of the palm trees are gently lifted as if being fondled by the breeze. Downstairs, the sounds of the kitchen are already in motion. I find the morning stirrings in the house comforting as well as the scents that are soon to follow.
Downstairs, the rest of the members of this intentional community are trickling in. They are coming as if each one of them has been drawn out of the woodwork of Philia itself. Each one of them is like a different ingredient that enhances the emotional flavor of the room. It culminates in a social coziness. We greet one another as if we haven’t seen each other in a year even though we have only been apart for the night. I am in heaven on mornings like this. This is really living. Really living is loving each other. It is terrifying to know that by loving someone, they have so much power over you. Sitting here at this table, I feel how brave a person has to be to love. You have to be willing to admit that you’re committed and because of that commitment, anything they do or don’t do will effect you. The most unhappy people on this planet are the ones that live their lives trying to not be effected. The happiest are the ones that surrender to the fact that they will be effected and as such, place their delicate hearts in other people’s hands to hold. What a gift it is to hold these people’s hearts in my hands and to know that they hold mine in theirs. It is what I have always wanted. It is the most terrifying ecstasy to be felt on the planet.
The retreat this last week was incredible. It was the kind of experience for all of us (attendees and staff alike) that cannot be described. It is ineffable… Ineffable growth, ineffable awareness, ineffable connection. There is so much confusion between people today. The false security that our relationships were built on is no longer able to pass itself off as real security of connection. Looking around the world, we seem puzzled about each other. We seem as if we are at a loss to understand each other. So much of the time when we run into conflicts in a relationship, we have no idea what is happening or why it is happening. We slip into the perception that the other person is completely unjustified and is being unfair with us. We tell ourselves that they are wrong and that they are crazy. We try to make sense of what is going on without remembering that the universe is a mirror. The universe we live in is a giant fractal mirror. Your reality mirrors you precisely so that by recognizing the mirror, you become aware and arrive at conscious choice. That being said, we do not often recognize the reflection when it shows up in the mirror. Because of this universal mirror principal, however you make someone feel (regardless of whether it is intentional or unintentional) will eventually become how they make you feel. All people and even more than that, all beings, make you feel exactly how they feel. And it isn’t usually intentional or conscious on their part. It is that their reaction to how you are making them feel, ends up making you feel the exact same way that they feel.
For example, a man works from sun up to sundown. Because of this he is not making his wife feel loved. She feels like she has no value to him. Eventually, she gets a lover and cheats on her husband. He finds out and feels unloved. He feels like he has no value to her. Or for example, a wife feels secure when she controls all the planning for the household. Eventually this starts to make her husband feel totally powerless and out of control. Soon, he refuses to commit to any plans that she is making. This starts to make her feel powerless and out of control.
Or for example, a person feels as if their life was destroyed by a group of people. Eventually, this person grabs a gun and starts killing them. This makes them feel as if their lives have been destroyed by this shooter.
We can use the fact that people in our lives put us in the position to feel exactly the same way that they feel like we made them feel to our advantage. We can use it to understand other people completely. We can use that understanding to resolve our conflicts fast. We can use that understanding to see ourselves and our impact on other people clearly. Whenever someone makes you feel a certain way, especially in a conflict, consider that the way they are making you feel is the way you either have made them feel or are currently making them feel. So, first identify how you feel. If you’re in a painful relationship, write down the many different ways you feel. Then consider how you might have made or be making them feel that way. Despite what they may be saying or doing, see them and their actions through this new lens of seeing clearly how they feel because now that you are feeling it, you do get it.
From there switch your strategy of resolution. Now that you recognize how they feel, make the conflict resolution deliberately about the way they feel. Do and say things that make them feel the opposite. For example, using one of the examples I gave previously, the man would go straight to the root by addressing the feeling of not being loved and valued. He would do things to make her feel loved and valued. The wife would go straight to the root by addressing the feeling of being totally powerless and out of control. She would say and do things that made him feel empowered and more in control of himself. If we focus our efforts on making them feel differently, (for example valued or in control instead) it is an inevitability of this universe that they will in turn make us feel differently. The reflection in the mirror will change.
There is a certain beauty to this cruelty. We are in essence condemning each other into a state of forced compassion so as to awaken one another. And even though it is an entirely unconscious process, it shows how deeply we want to merge with one another… How desperate we are to love.