Conversing: Krista Tippett

I have been reading a book by Krista Tippett titled “Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living”. It has caused me to contemplate what has unfolded for me in my conversations with others about life, Buddhism, spirituality and the possibility of living fully. I value greatly the opportunity for discussion especially after the time that I spend in Germany. Living here involves longer periods of solitude.

It’s not in an absolute way that I value conversing and it’s not what I can discover in terms of more data and knowledge but more  how it can help facilitate awareness of my self and others. What arises in communication with others is often,  so very revealing and expanding although I always find it challenging  to express an experience while at the same time not offending others in that attempt. I’m not sure whether or not it is something that people in general are comfortable doing or not.  It’s hard work at times. Conversation can get mired in attachment to conceptualizations that don’t  allow for expanded and creative notions and envisioning. I know that at times I have walked away from discussions feeling quite vulnerable albeit possibly more open. But there are those times when, in a way that awareness has not penetrated, I become trapped.
Krista Tippett has been conducting wonderful interviews, on a program titled “On Being” and in her book she discusses the value of questioning and conversing. I wonder if there is a place for this kind of conversing in Buddhism and other spiritual forums.

She writes that “An alternative involves a different orientation to the point of conversing in the first place: to invite searching—not on who is right and who is wrong and the arguments on every side; not on whether we can agree; but on what is at stake in human terms for us all. There is value in learning to speak together honestly and relate to each other with dignity, without rushing to common ground that would leave all the hard questions hanging.”

USA Election Today

With the shock of the outcome of the USA election still resonating, there is arising anxiety connected to the insecurity that I feel.   I have come to be aware of my habitual reactions and drams I hold that are efforts to relieve the anxiety. In that awareness I am able to be more present to it; reminded of the nothingness that is the essence of our life which includes all our futile  efforts to reduce the anxiety that we experience.  I can not find the security that I search for in particulars and external solutions and that the anxiety is of an existential quality.

Stephen Batchelor writes in his book “Alone With Others” that “No particular interpretation or expression of Buddhism can be final. Buddhism just like any other phenomenon is a dependent arising and therefore lacks any inherent self nature.”So it is with all else. Our conceptual understanding is not as we imagine it to be. Concepts and ideas are incomplete; time limited creations  separated from other very relevant phenomenon that they are in reality inseparable from,  in our perception. In life they are vastly complex and interrelated. The perceived solutions to our anxiety that we entertain  are similar creations.

Inevitably I find truth not in grasping onto superficial meaning but in stillness and the realization of being, that is discovered in that stillness and the emptiness that emanates from it. I find value in attempts to articulate that process and to express the faith that I have come to know as clearly as I can. Of course this is ever-changing and unfolding. The closer I am to perceived truth the more that there is a realization of interconnection and compassion for others.

Even in these recent times of our collective choices to withdraw into our neurotic, egoic and familiar ways there is hope for us to awaken to something greater than the self and all its fragmented needs.