|Sent on:||Wednesday, June 11, 2008 9:51 AM|
Self Management Series
Relationships - The March of the Machines
Last weeks reflection on the second of the 4Rs simplified (perhaps overly so) our definition of relationship into a single word ��� connection. It is a connection in which some form of energy exchange will take place. And while we tend to associate the idea of 'relationship' with our human connections and interactions i.e. person to person exchanges, we have many other levels of relationship. These levels can be described as horizontal relationships and vertical relationships.
Our horizontal relations include not only the other people in our life, but all the animal kingdoms and nature itself. And our vertical relationships include our relationship with our self as we turn within and reconnect with our authentic self. And then there is the highest relationship for some but not all, which is with 'the source', with the One some call God, and various other names. This last relationship is of course the least tangible and the hardest to find the right language to describe, hence the controversy that tends to surround even the idea that such a being exists at all. So, for the moment at least, let's put that relationship to one side as we explore how we have an increasing tendency to break the connection with the other three corners of our interrelated world ��� nature, other people and our self. There is, it seems, a common pattern in which we tend to break our connections in all directions. It is to do with machines and noise!
Our Relationship with Nature
Not long ago nature was our clock. It told us when to sow and when to reap. The movements of the planets and the stars guided our movements here on Earth. Now we busy ourselves in our towns and cities, expanding our concrete memorials to sophistication and driving around in our increasingly expensive turbo charged machines. When the stress of this becomes too great we flee to the countryside at weekends to reconnect with nature and the therapy of its gentle pace and pure vibrations. We don't notice the slight irony that as we walk across rolling hills amidst a chorus of birdsong, just over the next hill we are knocking down and digging up nature's creation. Once converted into energy we use it to power the modern metropolis in which we live for the other five days of our week. And so our love affair with the speediness of our machines (cars, planes, boats and trains) and the noise they make severs our connection with the natural world. We have forgotten that the natural speed of the world is the speed of a cow!
Our relationship with Other People
In many cultures today we witness the gradual erosion of family and community relationships. Enter almost any home in almost any country and where is the family frequently facing? Towards the technicolor deity of our electronic age sitting on its throne in the corner of the main room! On reaching home we are less likely to find an empathic reception to receive the sharing of our emotions and feelings from the adventure of the day. More likely the evening ritual of 'finger on remote' will ensure our human connections, if not totally broken, are interrupted frequently. It seems an increasing number of children now have a more intimate relationship with their computer than they do with human beings. And it is not unknown to spend more time, energy and money on the health and well being of our technological toys than we do on our own health. And so our love affair with speed, and 'quantities' of communication has invaded our interpersonal relationships often diminishing our value for the 'quality' of our interactions. And as we fill our homes with more machines and attempt to consume their noise, perhaps it's not too surprising our communication skills can easily atrophy over time
The pattern of the 'machine/noise disconnect' also occurs in our relationship with our self, but it's not so obvious. Having a relationship with our self sounds slightly impossible. It implies there are two selves capable of relating to each other. There isn't of course, but we do have one feature of consciousness which differentiates us from all other creatures with consciousness. We can self reflect. It is when self reflects upon self that we create a kind of relationship with our self. But like all relationships, how well we know our self will be the biggest factor in the nature of our relationship with our self.
When we don't know our self as we truly are we mistake ourselves for what we are not! And the first thing we mistake our selves for is our body. We look in the mirror and believe that what we see is what we are. And when we 'believe' we are our body we will soon believe our happiness in life has to come through our five physical senses including what we see! And when we look at our body we are not happy if it does not look right. So we treat the body as an object, as the first machine, as we try to shape it up and dress it up! If we believe we are the form we occupy there is a greater chance we will become addicted to the sensual noise of physical stimulation in order to make us feel (temporarily) happy. And so we separate our self, we disconnect our self, from the true nature of the self, which is peace, contentment and a natural joy that is not dependent on anything external. The self becomes 'body conscious' developing a craving for sensual noise (stimulation) in order to experience brief moments of physical happiness which are really just moments of relief!
And then there is the most challenging relationship. If you just don't believe in a source, a supreme, a God, an Allah, you can probably skip this paragraph. If however you are someone with a vague awareness of a being who is present but unseen in your life, perhaps even there to guide your life, then it's worth a moment or three of reflection. Explore almost all religious or spiritual paths and you will likely find they all have one thing in common. They all place great value on silence. It's the idea that the inner condition that is required in order to make the connection with 'the source' is silence. Though not quite so true in Churches and Mosques, where much physical noise can be generated, almost all spiritual philosophies will have a practice that is designed to quieten consciousness and silence the mind so that a subtle connection to the source can be established. But most will also say this is not easy because the machine which is sometimes referred to as the 'monkey mind' chatters away merrily and the noise of non stop thinking, thinking, thinking is like the crackling interference we used to get on the old fashioned radios as we tried to tune them in to find the clear signal of the radio station. This is why meditation is often seen as a preparation for yoga. Meditation is the process to quieten the noise of consciousness so that yoga, which means union or connection, with 'the source' can be achieved.
There are of course many other reasons for broken connections in our relationships. Machines and noise are not to blame. Our preoccupation with them is simply a symptom of our disconnectedness, even when the technological ones appear to connect us with each other in so many more ways. The root cause of 'disconnect' is when we lose awareness of our self, when we disconnect with our own true nature. Our belief that we are form makes us desire stimulation and we satisfy that desire by creating and amazing variety of machines using the energies of the natural world. It also means we become less attentive and aware of each other. You could call this whole process 'nature's course', and it is, in its own way. But the levels of internal confusion about who we are and why we are here, the amount relational discomfort between people, and the numbers of international conflicts are all signs that 'natures course' has probably strayed off in the wrong direction. A course correction is obviously required. And that, as many now realise, has to start within the self. To have said twenty years ago something like "When WE Change The WORLD Changes" would probably have fallen on deaf ears and perhaps induced much yawning. But today more and more people realise not just the wisdom but the truth of what has become a Ghandi clich��, but which also summed up his legacy to the world, when he said "Be the change you want to see in the world'. We all want to see change somewhere in the world, the world of our family, the world of our community, the world itself. The foundation of each and every world is relationship. And even although the vast majority of our conversations may still be about how others need to change, there is a groundswell of growing self responsibility which recognises 'I have to start with me'.
So next week ��� The Relationship Repair Kit!
Question: In which area of your life do you find yourself distracted most by machines and noise?
Reflection: Why have we become so dependent on technology?
Action: Sacrifice your dependency on two machines for sometime this week and see what difference it makes and what you learn from it