Possibility: the light illuminating the yet-to-be-seen,
revealing opportunity, renewal and a new future,
in whatever aspects of your life that matter to you.
Our media presents unending follies that substitute for the understanding most would like to exhibit in our lives and witness in the world. Listen to talkback radio, watch the TV news or read a newspaper, in particular the letters to the editor, for the follies du jour.
The adversarial and frequently hate-filled comments on the web and in social media point to the psychological state of impossibility in which many of us live.
As an example, we could pick any one of many seemingly insoluble problems – the source and solutions to which all have the same genesis. For now, let’s consider one visible weeping sore on Australia’s psyche: refugees. Specifically, the so-named ‘boat people’.
HOW WE UNWITTINGLY APPROACH OUR LIFE FROM A STATE OF IMPOSSIBILITY
There are different solutions put forward for managing those who flee to our (or other) shores from difficult to intolerable circumstances.
Too few of us, it appears, explore each other’s ideas in search of sustainable, humane solutions – solutions in service to the common good. I admit it’s tough to do. It demands that we listen beyond the reaches of our conditioned mind – our accumulation of beliefs, opinions, judgements and knowledge: our state of impossibility.
It’s incredibly challenging to listen to someone expressing a reality that conflicts with our own. Our listening is especially weak when hearing someone voicing an opposing view on a subject about which we feel strongly. And, we are deaf when someone is speaking on something about which we are certain we know ‘the truth’.
Before we get into these ideas further, please consider for a moment this question: How would you rate your level of listening on a scale of 0 to 10?
A score of zero is being unwilling, closed to listening to another. While being open and eager to hear (and importantly, willing to explore another’s views on something with which you vehemently, violently disagree) is a score of ten.
Let me be clear about this question. It’s not about whether you’re listening to yourself, as you argue your position to convince the other of its worth. It’s about listening intently, quietly, patiently to the other person, who has opposing views.
As I said, it’s tough. Most rate zero. I did, but I’m gradually climbing the scale. It’s a steep, slippery ascent with frequent backsliding.
Listening to our Federal MPs; do you notice any politician of any persuasion who you would honestly award better than zero? There might be some, but I’m yet to find them.
Listening with a genuinely open mind to another (and not merely acting as if you have no fixed position) is probably the hardest thing for us humans to do.
And a note of caution: in agreeing with another, we are most often (maybe always) equally closed. ‘Singing from the same hymn book’ might be enjoyable, fun, engaging, uplifting even, but it doesn’t denote openness. It signifies that we think we have alignment, agreement, an understanding of the other and an understanding by the other of us. Not so. No way.
If we are really listening, we will also be asking questions and exploring what the other is saying and, more to the point, what they mean by what they say. We don’t make assumptions if we are listening. And we may well discover that we each see the matter under discussion quite differently.
We all live in our own, separate reality, each one uniquely personal. Unless we ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of the other – even though agreement appears to exist – each will have areas in which mutuality may not exist at all.
My reason for being so pedantic will become apparent.
BACK TO THE EXAMPLE OF REFUGEE ARRIVAL BY SEA
The positions held on ‘boat people’ in Australia are varied:
- Some want refugees arriving by boat interned in Australia while waiting for our government to determine if they are genuine refugees or whether they represent a threat to our safety.
- Others want refugees to be free to live within our community while they wait on this process.
- Still, others want to incarcerate refugees arriving by boat in neighbouring nations until their bona fides are proven.
- And others want to stop them from landing altogether, turn their boats (seaworthy or not) around, at gunpoint if necessary, and send them back, from where they came.
Like it or not, the government of Australia, in its elected role, has settled the matter for us by picking example three above, at least for the time being. All is relatively quiet – or is it?
Due to our ingrained belief, opinion, judgement and prejudice concerning all perspectives on this global human disaster, the matter still sits, simmering, waiting until the heat increases once more and our thinking here in Australia returns to the boil.
Little kindness, understanding, wisdom or common sense has been offered by the divergent groups towards each other. Listening to the other has been MIA. Shouting, abusing and screaming intransigence are some of the more common modes of expression.
WHAT IS AT CAUSE IN OUR DIFFICULTY TO LISTEN TO EACH OTHER?
HOW DO WE SEE POSSIBILITY AND THUS SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS?
CAN WE DISCUSS THE ISSUE WITH KINDNESS, UNDERSTANDING, WISDOM AND GOVERNED BY COMMON SENSE?
Put aside for a moment, our lack of listening to the pleas of refugees. We don’t even listen to each other. What are the chances, then, that we can hear and understand them and their plight?
Why do you think we have so much difficulty in listening? What do you imagine is the cost – to our relationships, our communities, our nation, our world – in us not listening?
These questions are confronting – at least to me. I trust they are to you, too.
Our lack of listening to and therefore understanding the other is the number-one problem humanity faces. How can we move forward in a way that is sustainable for the common good if we can’t listen?
Practical, sustainable, humane solutions live in a different state of mind from that in which most of us listen when dealing with difficult challenges. It has long been so. Being raised to never speak about religion, politics and sex in the company of others, of anyone, has been common. These three subjects of great significance in our lives have been taboos in polite company. Can you speak openly, honestly and with kindness, understanding, wisdom and common sense about these matters with whom you are close?
Such avoidance is real for each of us around matters that penetrate to the bone of our fears, insecurities and prejudices – like having respectful conversations around refugees (who, in 2020, number c. 30 million globally).
Even issues that impact every human being on the planet (all 7+ billion of us) and every nook and cranny of nature – sentient or not – is currently impossible to discuss.
The ‘burning’ subject of global warming is a problem causing firestorms, not only in forests worldwide but among family, friends, colleagues and nations holding differing views on whether greenhouse gasses are a significant contributor or irrelevant.
Too often, we are in that same state of impossibility thinking in our relationships, our workplaces and our communities when addressing local problems. At the micro-level, couples ‘solve’ their problems in 50% of cases by getting divorced. We can only guess at what percentage of those couples break up because they don’t know how to listen to each other – and therefore never get to understand one another. How can we live in harmony with others we don’t understand and who in turn don’t understand us?
As an aside, and contrary to the popular myth, all genders are equally disabled when it comes to listening. And, further, if we think our self a good listener; that’s a red flag that we’re not. Listening exists beyond our beliefs and is a moment to moment experience. One we slip in and out of, even if it’s our heartfelt intention to listen with great care to the other. Listening demands we hear beyond our conditioned mind.
As repeated throughout this text, we habitually approach addressing problems from ‘our state of impossibility’. That’s the only reason why we find it so challenging and often impossible to listen, respectfully explore and reach an understanding of each other’s point of view – and thus have the fertile soil in which to grow sustainable solutions.
NOW FOR THE $64 MILLION QUESTION: WHAT ENABLES US TO LISTEN?
A powerful insight (awakening) into our state of Possibility enables us to see the complexity and the simplicity of life and living (from the micro to the macro). Seeing Possibility opens our mind, allowing us to see our beliefs, opinions, judgements and knowledge for the illusions they are.
Our most important discovery in that state can be (but not always) that we see (understand) that we don’t know ‘the truth’ – of anything. In the realisation that we don’t know ‘the truth’, we can then listen and truly hear another. We are free of our lifetime accumulation of ‘the known’.
We come to understand that what we think we ‘know’ is what we believe, have opinions on, judgements about and knowledge of, that we have accumulated to any point in our lifetime – none of which we now see as equating to ‘the truth’. Having seen into a state of Possibility, we recognise how limited in scope our conditioned mind is. We see, therefore, how narrow and rigidly defined our view and understanding of the world is. We accept the irrefutable reality that our lifetime accumulation – if we believe it represents ‘the truth’ – is the ball and chain that has kept us imprisoned in a state of impossibility thinking, unable to listen or to see and experience life anew.
The benefit to us and to our world of having been influenced by this state of Possibility is that we become grounded in kindness, understanding, wisdom and common sense.
Is there a better state from which to listen and to solve problems? Solutions that are practical, workable, sustainable and thus humane come to us (perhaps from others) when experiencing or still powerfully influenced by that state of mind – where we see or have seen and experienced Possibility.
The state of refugees is a heart-rendering, gut-wrenching humanitarian disaster – one that will only get worse unless we the people address the genesis of the problem.
I point toward an answer that exists beyond:
- One conditioned mind fighting another.
- Pitting one set of beliefs, opinions, judgements and knowledge (however well informed), against another.
- One mind ‘being right’ and seeing the other mind ‘being wrong’.
- One set of ideologies headbutting against another.
In summary: One state of impossibility thinking lost in a conflict with another and therefore with no chance of there being a meeting of the minds.
At best, any solution based on our state of impossibility will have negative, unintended, inhumane consequences, one way or another – regardless of being ‘right-wing or left-wing’, or ideologies of any description. Sustainable solutions only become visible when we see beyond our conditioned thinking.
Of course, solutions to the most severe, complicated problems seen or influenced by our state of Possibility will still be experienced by some as unacceptable. That’s a result living in our own unique, entirely separate reality and looking at life through that personal perspective – one influenced by Possibility or one controlled by the beliefs we’ve accumulated in our memory, ‘truths’ that drive us relentlessly deeper into a state of impossibility.
I reiterate; answers to problems we see when influenced by our state of Possibility come to us in a context of kindness, understanding, wisdom and common sense. That state of mind, and that state alone, is the foundation for sustainable solutions. The perfect solution may not be seen immediately but, provided the problem-solvers continue to be influenced by Possibility; viable answers will appear.
THAT MAY BE WELL AND GOOD, BUT HOW DO WE RECOGNISE WHICH STATE WE’RE IN – AND WHICH STATE OTHERS ARE IN – POSSIBILITY OR IMPOSSIBILITY?
Given that whatever we are thinking in each moment is our reality, how can we know whether it is our state of Possibility or impossibility determining how we are thinking, feeling and acting?
The answer is quite straightforward. You and I have an in-built ‘Geiger Counter’ – one that informs us in each moment which state of mind is guiding or ruling our life. Our feelings are our instrument of detection; revealing to us with 100-per cent accuracy whether our state of mind is being influenced by Possibility or by impossibility.
The clues that reveal this are:
- POSSIBILITY: If you are experiencing peace of mind, calmness, happiness, joy, feelings of gratitude, confidence, a sense of fun, optimism and creativity, your state of Possibility is influencing your momentary experience of life.
The payoff is that the more you experience Possibility, the more you become kinder, more understanding, wiser, and use your common sense, growing increasingly conscious of being in service to the common good. Such experiences come from a mind influenced by Possibility.
- IMPOSSIBILITY: If you are experiencing worry, upset, anger, frustration, disappointment, bother, busy-mindedness, judgement, hatred, opinions, beliefs and unpleasant feelings, you are in a state of impossibility. Such feelings come from a mind influenced by a state of impossibility.
The ‘payoff’ is that the more you experience impossibility, the more you are self-opinionated, arrogant, self-absorbed and judgemental. Life is increasing all about you – your needs wants and desires. The common good is of no concern.
To varying degrees, we all move in and out of these two states. It is an aspect of the human condition.
When we awaken to how our mind works, we know to take the simple step of quietening our thinking and looking for that nice feeling again. It’s that simple and, at times, that difficult.
How well we are riding in the saddle will be apparent to us from how we are feeling. Recognising our upset state of mind early, looking away from the conditioned thinking that is at cause in our disturbing feelings, and looking in the direction of not-knowing – of surrendering to the unknown – is the secret to regaining our peace of mind.
FROM THE MICRO TO THE MACRO – THE SOLUTION TO WHAT AILS HUMANITY AND THE PLANET.
At the micro-level, impossibility thinking manifests, for example, in the violence of all hues, drug abuse, obesity, family breakdown and poverty. Each is an endemic and systemic problem in different parts of the world.
On a macro-scale, impossibility thinking manifests in problems such as refugees, planetary warming, inequality, hunger and the environmental, sociological, political and economic challenges that beset most of the world.
Look around you – please. Are we addressing the fundamental source of the problems we see in the world, our individual and collective states of mind? Do we understand the cause of all the human-created issues we face – our individual and collective impossibility thinking – and, equally, the home of the unsustainable solutions we keep throwing at them?
Do we understand the birthplace of sustainable solutions to those problems – our individual and collective state of Possibility?
The answers to these questions are apparent the moment we see beyond the veil of yesterday – our beliefs, opinions, judgements and knowledge – and into the realm of Possibility.
In that moment, we transform from being the problem to becoming the solution.
If these ideas have tweaked your curiosity, please discover more at: https://www.therealmofpossibility.org.au
The Realm of Possibility Foundation
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