After the first Dedicated Practitioner’s retreat, I’m deeply humbled by my opinions, especially in the context of ethnic, economic, educational, sexually eclectic, gender, age-related, and able-bodied diversity.
I watched how comparing mind categorized my views as inferior, ignorant, in need of something more than what I had. I felt like an outsider standing in a cold blizzard watching others through a window gathered around a warm fire in intimate conversation. At other times, I labeled my views as superior, so sure of where I stood on solid ground. I wanted to stay with people who promised comfort and connection through common perspectives based on shared experiences.
Post retreat, I realize how my experiences in small and large groups there echo my experiences in everyday life. I tend to size where I stand compared with others. Compassion naturally arises for this comparing mind because I know I am not alone. Others experience this, too.
According to Shakil Choudhury, author of Deep Diversity, “We tend to tilt towards those most like ourselves and away from those we perceive to be different. When we feel included, we tend to soar. When excluded, we tend to underperform, second-guess ourselves, and in extreme cases, get sick.” (pg.25)
I remember when my mindful parenting and yoga mentor, Jackie Long was pregnant with her son. Fumbling with my daughter’s care for the first few years of her life, I desperately wished I could push the rewind button for a second chance at parenting. I yearned to embody Jackie’s maternal wellspring of wisdom and grounded loving presence. Jackie’s words at that time were clear and kind. “You admire me because you are looking in the mirror at yourself, a part you don’t recognize.”
Now, having a better understanding of Right View, I realize that no being is isolated in their magnificence or modesty. We all carry the potential for each extreme. Perhaps the Middle Path begins with awareness of our intentions and how they inform and inspire our actions. I don’t need to emphasize expertise or deny knowledge/intuitive wisdom that can help heal myself and others. When my ego is inflated, I can invite the person with a pin willing to pop me gently. When I’m feeling stupid, I can remember my potential to learn.
We weave stories through one another,
dancing patterns of dread and delight.
No single colored strand is responsible
for holding the whole tapestry together.
Still, when one end of fabric frays
surrounding threads unite to stitch
the frazzled edges with kindness,
till each fiber is strengthened
by the eclectic, elegant design.
We weave stories of expertise and ignorance through one another. Know single being knows it all or can possibly hold the whole tapestry together. But when one person dominates or feels deficient, others surrounding him/her/them can unite to meet this being with kindness, curiosity, and peaceful engagement till all members of the group are strengthened by the eclectic, elegant design.
The tapestry is only as strong as each individual thread. It is also quite fragile, blood-stained with ancestral stories, bright with the healing faith of our collective potential. May we recognize the divinity inside one another. May we honor the sacred within.
(Note: For questions to spark personal reflection regarding racial differences and enhance self-awareness, see Deep Diversity, pg. 44.)