Process and content congruence

For much my life, I’ve focused on the content of words rather than the process. I’m talking about explicit focus, as I’m sure I’m still taking in tone, body language, etc. – the difference being that now there is conscious awareness of the process in addition to the content.

Sharing something from the book To the Core of your Experience (How to Reach Deep Within by Dyrian Benz and Halko Weiss.

Chapter 3: Nonviolent Options

Violence has become like second nature to us. We live in a tradition that considers nature something to be managed and controlled. We are convinced that we must confront and struggle with whatever we perceive as obstacles or whatever creates difficulties for us. If a couple of trees are standing on the future site of a new house, we automatically assume that they have to be cut down. If someone makes us angry, we attempt to change him or her. If somebody has a different opinion, the usual democratic method is to overrule them. We have the tendency to want to change everything that stands in the way of the flow of things, according to what we perceive to be the right flow. The attitude is: “I don’t conform to the world, the world should conform to me.” If you take the time and observe this automatic tendency for a few days, you may be fascinated to see how deeply ingrained it is.

If I’m still tired after waking up in the morning, I usually don’t decide that I need some sleep; I drink a cup of coffee instead. If someone approaches me with some sort of misleading political theory, I don’t try to listen and understand why it makes so much sense to him; rather, I try to convince him of my own opinions. And it certainly appears self-evident to me that, when I am angry with my friends, somehow it must be their fault. This kind of violence has become such a large part of our nature that we don’t even notice it anymore; Albert Einstein said, “Fish are the last to discover water.” Still, that does not mean our relationship to violence has to be as it is.

There are nonviolent options. For example, in Chinese geomantics, the building of a house is accurately and scientifically planned in such a way that it conforms with the natural surroundings. Similarly, in some cultures a decision reached by majority, rather than by unanimous consent, would not be considered acceptable.

We frequently treat ourselves with the same kind of subtle violence, like drinking coffee instead of sleeping longer. Here is an account of how to approach this situation in a different way, from a visitor to Samoa: “I entered the restaurant in the early evening and settled down for my dinner. When I attempted to order, the waiter told me that they did not serve anymore food today. When I asked him why not, he replied, “The cook was tired and has gone home.”

John Heider writes in The Tao of Leadership that “There are times when it seems as if one must intervene powerfully, suddenly, and even harshly. The wise leader does this only when all else fails. As a rule the leader feels more wholesome and the group process is flowing freely and unfolding naturally, when delicate facilitations far outnumber harsh interventions… Even when harsh interventions succeed brilliantly, there is no cause for celebration. There has been injury. Someone’s process has been violated. Later on, the person whose process has been violated may well become less open and more defended… That is why your victory is actually a failure.”

We, in the western culture, seem to have benefitted considerably from our violent attitudes. We have attempted to outsmart nature, and we have struggled to wrestle things away from her that were not freely given. We have accumulated an abundance of technology, wealth and knowledge. A most impressive bottom line. Nobody is better than human beings at dominating nature. Unfortunately – or should we say, thank God – one of the last chapters of this part in our history may have arrived. We simply cannot struggle with and demand much more from nature, because nature is already dying.

And we, who are also part of nature, often treat ourselves the same way. We have abused our bodies, our minds, and our spirits to the extent that some experts in the mental health field feel that almost every adult needs psychotherapy.