Most of us are at our happiest when we are able to cooperate, supporting each other with positivity, encouragement, and genuine consideration. We strive to do this in our families, our workplaces, and in any other kind of group we are part of. When we work together, the outcomes are usually good as well.
We often forget, however, that to cooperate does not mean we always have to agree. It is unrealistic to believe we can find peace and harmony everywhere. A naïve longing for unity can make us become frustrated, confused,and defensive when othersdo not think along the same lines as ourselves.
When this sort of over-sensitivity develops, we no longer see clearly. We react badly to criticism, finding it difficult to acknowledge our mistakes, and always trying to prove ourselves right. We become over-critical of others, and blind to different points of view.
We might even suffer from a kind of spiritual diabetes, in which we cannot tolerate genuine sweetness in others, seeing it instead as a chance to exploit them!
When these patterns of thought and feeling continue over a long period of time, the brain and other bodily organs become conditioned to seeing and responding to the world in that crooked way. Fear, hurt, anger, worry, resentment, and a sense of losing out become part of our habitual responses, which become our character. We only need look in the mirror, when feeling any of these emotions, to see the negative impact on the body.
This insidious drift of thought patterns does not mean I am a bad person, but that my innermost needs are not being met.They are a signal of a need to change.
Fortunately, both science and spirituality are converging in providing an understanding of how that change can happen.
At the frontiers, science is telling us that our brains and bodies are a reflection of a non-material, informational reality. The mind is at a deeper,more creative level than the brain. It is a faculty of the soul.
And spirituality tells us that the soul is a part of a unifying consciousness that underlies all creation. Through meditation and spiritual study, we can renew our relationship with a Supreme Being who is like a reference point for all that is highest in ourselves. Renewing this relationship fills the mind with truth, strength, love, and peace.
With practice, that positive power enters my heart and brain and life, displacing negative tendencies. I start to see straight again. Not trying to pretend that differences of perspective do not exist – in today’s world, there are always going to be lots of different ideas and opinions – but respecting and appreciating the value of each member of the group, whatever their individual contribution.
With this appreciative vision of each other, there is a much better chance of finding clear ways forward together, even in the midst of all the different points of view.
Neville Hodgkinson is a UK-based author and journalist, and a long-time student of Rajyoga.