“Those who are guided by kindness hardly even notice evil in another but pay attention instead to everything good and true in the person. When they do find anything bad or false they put a good interpretation on it.” Arcana Coelestia 1079
I just love it when ‘natural world’ learnings align with spiritual teachings. I’m training to become a mediator and years ago was a trainer of a personal development course focussed on ‘empathic listening’. There are a number of tools from these that have resonated for me as ‘real world’ applications of spiritual concepts. And in the current global climate there seems to be such a need for applicable conflict resolution tools, if not for out-n-out conflict, certainly for internal dissonance.
I have a pet theory or ‘mantra’ about life that says “whatever we do on this earth – whatever careers we do, achievements we reach, challenges we face, details and issues we get fixated on – it doesn’t really ‘matter’; it’s ALL just what ‘keeps us busy’ while we learn how to treat people”. That’s an oversimplification of life of course, but it can help to create clarity and focus.
If we’re ‘aiming for heaven’ we generally recognize that to ‘get there’ we have to work on our ‘stuff’ in order to create a heavenly mindset and habits. We don’t do this in a vacuum. Our lives are inextricably connected, in one way or another, to people. And that’s part of The Plan. It’s the process of bumping up against others on their own paths that creates endless opportunities for us to establish our habits and mindset.
“Loving our neighbour is loving the Lord.” Arcana Coelestia 1013
“Heaven is wishing better for others than for ourselves with all our heart and serving others for the sake of their own happiness, not for any selfish goal but for love.” Arcana Coelestia 841
How we interact with and treat people day-in-and-day-out, is where the rubber meets the road. And I’m not talking about how we treat people outwardly, because most likely we’re all pretty good at that by now. But the deeper we go, looking at the habits in our thinking, the more we can see what we truly ‘do unto others’. Of course it’s easy to treat people charitably when we’re in full agreement. Friction and conflict only arise when there are different viewpoints, or needs, or interests, or wishes, or values, or opinions (ETC.!). The question is ‘how do we navigate those moments or issues?’ And again, I’m not talking about how we outwardly react and treat them. What do we jump to in our minds?
In addition to little frictions that arise throughout each day, I’m thinking of some of the deeper tensions that have arisen due to political differences and viewpoints. It can be shocking when people we’ve ‘known and loved’ see the world so differently from ourselves. It can be so easy to quickly fall into an ‘us/them’ mindset. From there things can unravel and spiral in our minds. The focus becomes about wanting to change the mind, and maybe even the character, of the ‘other’. Respect can erode and trust can weaken. Differences are seen as problematic.
Especially in a highly charged environment, people and their positions can get somewhat polarized. Not falling into the ‘us/them trap’ – whether with an individual or a group – requires a certain level of moral integrity, humility and generosity. It takes a consistent, conscious and conscientious effort to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”.
“Life from the Lord flows only into a humble and submissive heart, since it is fitted to receive.” Arcana Coelestia 8873
If we consciously choose to hold people (and groups of people) with unconditional positive regard, it doesn’t matter so much whether we agree with their viewpoints or not. If we choose to listen to them with a ‘filter’ of “capable” or “worthy” or “child of God”, or any other positive perspectives, we’re taking responsibility for our part in avoiding or getting out of possible conflict (even just in our mind).
Generally, there’s a kernel of truth or wisdom to every person’s perspective. If we consciously search for the kernel of truth and points of agreement, or acknowledge a shared emotion – we can avoid conflict – we can connect to that person’s humanity. It takes a tremendous act of will, courage and grace to recognize that not only is the other person not all “wrong”, but we are also not all “right”.
Stepping back and remembering the big, eternal picture can change our stance, coming back to “how am I treating other people (even in my thinking)?” In the realm of easing intense friction in the face of differing viewpoints, it is essential to consciously honour someone’s ‘personhood’ profoundly.
We can recognize, for example, “who I vote for – one way or the other – won’t impact my heavenly mindset, but how I treat other people in the process will.”
“Angels never pay attention to what someone’s body is doing, but rather to the intent from which the body is acting.” Heaven and Hell 61