In my last article we began to explore the ladder of seeing, and in this article I would like us to climb up one or two more rungs. You may wish to read my previous article first if you have not already, especially as it has a picture of some fabulously wonderful Brazilians (A Tale of Two Selfies).
If we look at that point where we move from thinking that we know what we are seeing to thinking that perhaps we do not know what are seeing, how can we resolve this and move to a point of ever greater certainty? The answer lies in dialogue. Not conversation where you are just in transmission mode, not listening, but really engaging in dialogue, where you are mindful of the way in which your mental models could be shaping your understanding of a situation, and where you respect the mental models and world views of those you are conversing with.
In any living system there will be a mixture of both order and chaos. Any system that is dominated through control sinks into totalitarianism, where nothing new is allowed to emerge. Systems which are too chaotic collapse through a lack of resilient structure. Living systems exist on the edge of chaos, and so too does language.
If the definitions of words were too rigid, we could never create new meaning and understanding through language. But if each and every one of us decided to define words chaotically, and just use meanings unique to us, then language could never operate as there would never be any shared meaning.
It is really interesting trying to do really really good translations, as Maria and I do from English to Portuguese and Portuguese to English. We both have to sit down together and sometimes we have to have deep discussions about the very essence of words, to really ensure we have got what each of us are really trying to articulate.
But sometimes in conversation we are not mindful, and we stop paying attention to the ways in which others may be using words, and we stop paying attention to the meaning, the deeper meaning of what is being said, as we get lost through focusing on the actual words.
So in a true dialogue, we remain mindful and we listen. We do not try to force our world view on others, and neither do we expect their world view to be forced on us. We have mutual respect, and when we are mindful, we are able to explore those parts of a dialogue where we may not have fully understood what the other is saying without threatening others or being threatened.
And so the meaning of dialogue can be found not in any single person, but can be found to emerge through the dialogue as a whole. The meaning of a dialogue can often be a very slippery fish, but when we are mindful we can spend time ensuring that we can move to a point of mutual understanding, even when not everyone is in agreement.
It is interesting to reach the rung of ‘we see’. This is by no means a linear process, life is dynamic, and so we should always try and find out where we are in any situation, make sense of it, and look to see if we need dialogue to take us upwards.
It is interesting watching Joia Rara, since the characters are not black and white. Good characters struggle to keep themselves composed through traumatic moments, and bad characters battle with their consciences as they attempt to make amends for terrible decisions in their pasts.
It has been fascinating watching the love story of Silvia and Viktor for example, with Silvia starting off as a socialite who infiltrates the Hauser family, in order to wreck destruction due to Ernest having framed her father for a murder he did not commit. But she falls in love with Ernest’s son, Viktor, who then has to cope with her revelations of her plotting, plotting she now regrets as she goes through her own hero’s journey of transformation.
When you speak to people, how often do you pause to ask yourself if you have truly understood what that person is saying?
When you look at someone, do you ask yourself if you can see their true essence, do you stop and ask if you can see their true potential? Or do your ego and your emotions sometimes connive together to cast a shroud over your sensibilities, rushing to judge without really considering all the facts and information available to you?
It seems to me that sometimes the question “what do others see?” is not a question that we find easy to ask. For this reason it is a couple of rungs above “I know what I see”. Sometimes we need to be less fixed in our thinking, allowing our ideas to become more fluid. And if we then want to be creative, perhaps we really need to allow our concepts to run free from the shackles of our preconceptions. It is not without reason the word “inspire” is so close to the element of air, which we inspire.
And as I mentioned in my previous article, the very top rung is empty. This is where we experience fire, the element of transformation, and I for one certainly would not want to say what is there for you to experience. That is for you to find out.