Recently I was contemplating having a deep conversation with someone from whom I’m estranged. The truth is that I have my own view of the events that led up to this parting of ways. Thankfully, I paused, took a breath, and called a dear and wise friend in order to run the idea by her. She gave me some sage advice and, knowing me well, cautioned me about how easily I could get triggered and then the entire conversation would spiral into an unproductive emotional place, making it even worse.
Seeing her viewpoint, I realized that I was not imagining beyond my own narrative and the strong possibility existed for the entire endeavor to turn out quite badly. Checking in with this friend gave me a moment to pause and notice how righteous I felt in my own view of the situation.
I was reminded of something that former guest, philosopher, and social commentator, Rebecca Solnit once said:
“We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or hate, to see or be seen. Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to question them, to pause and hear silence, to name them, and then become a story-teller.”
I realized I needed to gain more insight and perspective so I googled what it would take to have a positive and productive conversation with someone. I found two very pertinent posts on the internet, the truth of which took me to my sacred values and made clear the choice of which path to take as I stood at this fork on the spiritual road.
“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”
Within the spirit of Buddha’s Teachings
Before speaking with another person ask yourself the following questions:
Is it TRUE? — Is it KIND? — Is it HELPFUL (necessary)? — Is it CONDUCIVE TO HARMONY? — Is it SPOKEN AT THE RIGHT TIME?
I feel I was spiritually headed off at the pass, so to speak, and avoided a disaster in the making. I’m now more inclined towards the Hawaiian practice of Ho’oponopono which is a simple yet profound forgiveness and reconciliation practice. It is a form of mental and spiritual cleansing of errors of thought which, according to Hawaiian worldview are the origin of problems and sickness in the physical world. The literal translation is to put to right; to put in order or shape, correct, revise, adjust, amend, regulate, arrange, rectify, tidy up, make orderly or neat.
The practice is a heart opening technique that invites you to focus on a person with whom you want to have a more connected and harmonious relationship while repeating the following words. Make sure you REALLY want to heal and connect with this person even more than you want to be right, feel victimized or replay your “old story.”
-Justine Willis Toms