A different vision from our own is not necessarily mistaken,
but simply another way of focusing the question. It is
good to compare our opinions with those of others, not
with the purpose of arguing for or against them, but so
as to better understand our own position and that of other
points of view.
The third kind of relationship with new points of view
is that of silence- experimentation. In this relationship,
we become open to new ideas, to different points of view.
Our relationship with ideas goes beyond agreement versus
rejection. Otherwise, instead of learning something new,
we would see the context of those ideas only in opposition
to our own fixed ideas. Rather, we now strive to learn
It is not necessary to "believe" in new points
of view, new concepts, new possibilities, even though
they may open up new avenues of experience and knowledge.
But we do need to consider and study them. The teachings
that surround any experience give good results when we
approach them as an investigator, open and free of prejudices.
With silence-experimentation we learn to listen, to open
up to a panorama wider than dogma. To listen and become
informed without deciding beforehand what we will think
is an excellent way to expand our understanding and to
renew ourselves innerly.
When we discover an idea that is clearly useful, we need
to look for a way to apply it in everyday life, so that
it does not become just a passing idea. Even the simplest
understanding requires an interior method of work if it
is to become part of our lives. To practice what we learn
for a while might be very satisfying; but to make that
new understanding our way of being we need to maintain
an attitude of observation, experimentation and fidelity.
If we persevere in that effort, we begin to acquire wisdom.
An attitude of observation allows us to understand inner
processes without distorting them with subjective interpretations.
In this way we can identify what we need to change or
improve and what concepts we need to apply in each case
so our new understanding becomes a permanent conquest.
There are no set solutions for the challenges of life,
nor are there fool-proof recipes to apply at each moment
of human unfolding. The fundamental concepts of spiritual
life have to be experienced by each person according to
circumstances and individual characteristics. True spiritual
principles are not in opposition to the results of analysis
and experimentation. On the contrary, evident truths prove
the validity of spiritual principles and these in turn
teach us to use well the power that comes with knowledge.
To experiment is, first of all, to discern which concepts
or points of view we need to explore to expand our horizons;
second, to choose the way to apply those concepts in our
lives; third, to evaluate the results obtained and, finally,
to continue correcting and adapting our actions as needed
to obtain the best results possible.
An attitude of openness protects us from the tendency
to evaluate the consequences of our efforts as triumphs
or failures. An undesirable outcome is not a failure but
new knowledge which, if applied well, helps us to avoid
making the same mistake again.
If we want ideas and experiences to really teach us, we
have to always be ready to expand our point of view. Not
all points of view are equally valid, since an impartial
opinion is broader than a selfish one. To tell the difference
between one and the other, we need to universalize the
way we think and to learn how to resolve differences through
continually expanding our interpretations.
We can, step by step, assimilate the teaching of life
by maintaining an open and receptive attitude. Whoever
wishes to cultivate the art of living is not waiting for
a great teaching to come along, because life is like an
open book. When we know how to read it, it shows us how
to understand our experiences and to know ourselves.
Reprinted from The
Art of Living in Relationship.