“The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.” William Bragg, Sr.
How open are you to new ways of thinking? When you discuss differences with another, are you sharing what you believe or debating to prove you are right?
There was a time when all thinking that was valued was rational. Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” and the western world came to value rationality over all other ways of thinking. Information became the basis for all decisions and anything not rational was considered rubbish.
Living By the Rational Or the Intuitive
As a woman with a few years of experience in life, I experienced many years when my “womanly opinions” were ridiculed and ignored. In other words, if I responded to a situation with emotion or made a choice based on intuition, my idea wasn’t considered valid because it wasn’t arrived at through reason. Even if my response proved to be accurate, it was discounted.
Dangers of Ignoring Intuition
In the last few years, I’ve had some pretty dramatic experiences that have led me to place great value on my intuition. In one instance, all the evidence, the weather report and television reports and what I could see outside, indicated to me that it was safe to travel in the city after a snow storm. I was looking for a new apartment, and I’d lost several good ones by not acting quickly enough. But my intuition told me very clearly not to go out.
At this point in time, the attention I paid to my intuition was inconsistent. I usually listened to it, but in this case, I decided it must be my fear talking although it didn’t feel like fear. I just decided to do what I wanted regardless of the warning.
Sure enough, the roads had been cleared and I arrived safely at the apartment. The sidewalk in front had also been cleared so I stepped across it and peered in the window. It looked good. A neighbor came out of his apartment to warm up his truck and asked me if I’d like to look at his apartment. I stepped back onto the sidewalk that appeared to be cleared. For a moment I was in shock, suspended in the air, then I crashed onto the concrete. I broke my left elbow, had two pelvic fractures, spent a month in the hospital and rehab, and nine months becoming fully mobile again. There was a small sliver of ice on the sidewalk that I didn’t see—or I think there was.
Learning to Live More Deeply
After the accident I had a lot of time to think. Why had I ignored my intuition when it had felt so strong? I discovered that a part of me still didn’t trust that inner knowing so much. So, I decided to test it out. Part of the test was to practice becoming more mindful so that I could really hear that inner voice all the time. I also made a commitment to follow my intuition unless I had concrete evidence that it was leading me astray.
With time, I discovered that my intuition didn’t mislead me and that, by following it, life went well. Over the last four years, I have lived more in harmony with my inner self, and knowing I have that guidance to draw on has been very empowering. I now not only have my rational mind to process concrete information, I have the inner resources of intuition which I consider part of spiritual guidance. I have learned a whole new way of being.
Being Open to New Ideas
There are many experiences in life that offer us an opportunity to embrace a new way of thinking or acting. Most are not as dramatic as my accident, but when we are set in our ways and stubbornly refuse to consider an alternative to what we think is right, we may be missing out on the opportunity to open our minds and change our lives in positive ways.
If we want to create peace in our lives and in the world, we have to be open to new ways of thinking. We have to listen to others respectfully and not make every encounter with a different point of view a debate, for in a debate, there is a winner and a loser. When we choose to share our thoughts and beliefs and listen respectfully to another, we create a bridge that may allow us to find some commonality. But bridging these differences requires us to suspend our need to be right.
Learning to Respect Others Ideas
Last night I attended a very interesting discussion group where we discussed the aspects of quantifiable facts and intuition in making decisions and guiding our lives. Some members of the group seemed to need to be right more than to understand. It was, at times, very uncomfortable because some individuals began debating and discounting any ideas that were presented with what they considered insufficient data. They presented their facts, insisting that only quantifiable information was useful and legitimate.
Not surprisingly, most of the women were pretty quiet. Someone commented on this, and when they were called on to speak, most indicated that intuition was the main thing that guided their lives. They all experienced an inner knowing. They did not need data to support that guidance. And I suspect the reason many were quiet was because they had had experiences similar to mine where their decisions were discounted.
In fact, during the discussion I commented that all things change, even facts. Many of the ideas that quantum physics is proving to be true were once thought to be crazy. A woman who is a biologist made a comment that supported my statement and added to it. During the break, a man came up to me and pointed out that he’d read an article by a scientist that said there were no physicists who believe in quantum physics. I’m sure he thought he was helping to correct my erroneous thinking, but the attitude that he needed to correct my thinking and that my beliefs couldn’t possibly be based on science was disrespectful. He never bothered to even ask on what information I based that belief.
Unfortunately, that experience wasn’t the only time during the discussion that words were used in a disrespectful manner. One person’s comment referred to people turning to spiritual guidance as a regression. Language is a powerful tool. I was shocked by this, but then had to laugh inside. My spiritual development has only led me to rich and expansive thinking.
Creating a Bridge of Peace
If we can’t compassionately bridge our differences in small groups with people of a similar culture, how can we possibly create that bridge of peace with people who are ethnically very different? Yet, that’s what we have to do. Debating won’t work. We have to learn a new way to communicate and be and release our fear of change. Next week I will write about how we can communicate more compassionately.
May you all listen gently to one another.
© 2013 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5