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Using Common Sense to Meet Those We Seem to Have Nothing in Common With

Published on 03/06/10
by randy

Does it make sense to continually yell at one another, trying to persuade another that we’re right and they’re wrong? Wouldn’t ‘common sense’ direct us to start with what we have in common rather than focus on our differences? Drilling for what’s ‘common’ with those who have many differences with us seems to be the essence of any spiritual practice. We’ve been instructed to experience others as ourselves, to ‘feel’ our interconnection and interdependence upon one another by all our great spiritual masters. We now have science substantiating the very notions that everything changes and everything affects everything. Nature functions from balance, harmony and rhythm, yet we continue to contribute to the noise created from our focus upon difference over what’s common.

Common sense is curios and helps us develop the capacity to converse, to listen deeply without aggressive desires to change another. Common sense directs us to not harm, given our knowledge that we’re all connected, and thus, hurting ourselves when we harm another. It directs us to treat one another with reverence. It acknowledges that we’ve all been manifested in these bodies to participate in the joy of life, fully appreciative to the fact that our actions had nothing to do with making our body/mind. It recognizes the repeated failure of our attempts to ‘fix’ someone or something when it’s driven from our greed, fear, or ignoring of truth. Common sense asks us to explore the ground work that always works, the guts of faith, love and hope. Recognizing these seeds to gratitude, common sense would direct us to extend our moments of joy rather than feeding our restlessness and sense of lack.

An application of common sense presents an authentic motivation to explore what we ‘really, really, really, really want’ from a perspective on non harm and contribution. It asks in honor to one another how we can share our divine talents to the fullest of our potential. It steers clear from ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong’ and conversational stoppers like ‘I know that’. There’s shared recognition that we’re on a journey to delve deeper into the mystery of our life opportunity to participate. It recognizes that no one escapes the pains of life. It asks us to base our inquiry on direct knowing rather than second and third hand information that’s not substantiated. Rather than blocking debate with fixed belief systems, pushing an agenda of ‘knowing’, common sense carries the power of joyful expectation for deeper meaning through the virtue of curiosity, love and the discipline to not cause harm.

Some day I’d like to see common sense driving our politics, business, churches and education. I’d like to see law schools teaching deep listening skills rather than focusing upon the violence that comes from persuasion and ‘notions of rightness’, of winning and losing. I think we all have a desire to minimize our mistakes. Fortunately, mistakes can be corrected through the deeper awareness that comes from sincere inquiry into what we have in common.

I’ve often been presented with belief systems that are based on second hand information. I have no problem allowing another to hold these belief systems. For example, many religions have beliefs about what happens when we shed our bodies. Wars have been fought and millions of people have been killed defending or pushing these beliefs. Can you imagine the results if we had the courage to explore these beliefs without the blocked learning that comes from thinking we’re right? Personally, I have a deep, felt sense of Jesus, of my ancestors, of those spirits whose actions live forever through the power of their contributions. I know much analogy and metaphor has been written about our future and what happens when we shed these bodies. And I also can’t forget Brother David Steindl Rast’s directive about thought and speech:

Go deep into clearly exploring what you mean before you speak.
If you don’t know it from direct experience, probably best to be quiet.
If you are clear about what you mean, and you know it from direct experience, “So what?”

When it comes to events after life in these bodies, until someone comes back and substantiates it, I will not speak about it, speculate about it, or try to push any beliefs on another. My personal experience has best served me and those around me when I joyously treat each present moment as heaven. When I can let go ‘ordinary’ to ‘surprise’, experiencing the ‘gift of the given’, cultivating joy for the opportunity to participate, this is truth of direct substantiated experience.

I find greater vitality to life when encountering those of difference as long as we can commit to open, active listening. It makes common sense to first explore what we have in common, cultivating our joy in the shared life experience. It gives us opportunity to steward the purpose for our unique being. As we become conscious to the fleeting moments of life, to our relationship to the present moment, we more deeply touch the sacred ground above the battle field.

While we now see the tremendous harm done from the mental thought of ‘drill baby, drill’ pertaining to off shore oil, perhaps this could be a great directive to use with one another before we resort back to our unproductive addictions to fight. If I can only discipline myself to forever drill deeper in exploring our common ground, perhaps we can better steward our contribution to ourselves, family, community, nation and planet.

Exploring common ground is harmonic. It helps join in rhythm and balance for better community. For me, common sense is all about exploring our ‘joined’ response in this miracle of life. Fighting, aggression, debate, persuasion, and other forms of pushing have generally produced harm, noise, distortion and movement away from the music of this precious moment.

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