Tuesday, September 7, 2010


In his book, A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle talks about how ducks manage conflict. After two ducks have  come together in a physical confrontation, he says, they both retreat to a safe distance, rise up in the water and shake their wings violently, thereby releasing all the residues of energy that have remained in their bodies as a result of the fight. Having done so, the ducks continue on as before, having regained their inner equilibrium.
If only the psychic and energetic upheavals caused by human conflict and confrontation could be surrendered as easily. Yet, with much work and a commitment to living without inner conflict (which means being willing to work through outer conflicts), they can be. Obviously it's harder for us- we are blessed and burdened with long memories, active imaginations and well-developed egos, which is all the more reason for us to find ways to move beyond the mostly petty disputes and judgements which crowd our thoughts and disturb our inner peace.
I have had the experience of driving and becoming irritated with another person on the road, blasting my horn and sounding off to myself, only to discover that the other driver was a friend of mine. How amusing it is to watch both of us go from a state of anger and bilious annoyance to laughter and joyful embarrassment upon recognizing our friend in the other car. This begs the question: how is it possible to be so ready to fight a war and then transform into gestures of love in the next instant? In moments like these it's very clear to me that our feelings about the people around us are a result of how we perceive them.
On a global scale, this is critical to understand for obvious reasons. But more personally, I have noticed in myself that I am less likely to venture out into the world with a sense of joy and freedom when I am perceiving that world as a hostile place, full of 'enemies' and  dislikable people who are ready to judge me harshly. Yet those same people can seem lovable and approachable depending on my outlook and mood that day. As an actor I have experienced enormous anxiety and reluctance to go onstage one night and a hyperactive eagerness and giddy joy to step out in front of an audience the next. All that changed was my feelings about the people and the environment I was moving into.
We all have goals. We all need to move in the world and make contact with others, whether it be in a supermarket checkout line or in collaboration with others, working together on the most meaningful projects in our lives. When we find a way to wish others well and extend love to them in whatever minute forms that might take, we will surely begin to feel that others are doing the same for us. All of us know the joy of basking in the loving embrace of our friends, knowing that we can be who we are and be fully accepted. The more often we're able to project that feeling with no thought as to how it will be returned, the more our world will grow and the more its abundance will be able to flow in.

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