To study the Buddha way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things.
~Dogen Zenji

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by Bobby Werner

Cultivating Direct Communication

by Seisen Roshi

How to avoid gossip, talking in the bushes, hearsay, rumor mongering and other misdemeanors.

One of the most important guidelines for harmony in a community is the practice of direct communication. When we are triggered by someone or something it is very tempting to talk about it among our friends. At SWZC we practice taking our upset to the person who triggered it or to the person or group most able to do something about the situation that triggered the upset.

If you find yourself upset with someone, here are some steps to resolution:

  1. Cultivate emotional intelligence. This means be aware of what the emotion is (anger, fear, hurt etc.). Then take responsibility for the emotion. This means acknowledging that the action of another triggered this emotion but the emotion is mine. Then decide: what is the action that I want to take around this feeling.

    1. Realizing that this feeling is almost completely repressed emotions from the past, I decide to meditate with the feeling, letting go of the trigger. For example: When the person next to me clears their throat in an irritating way, I realize that the burning anger that takes over my body is all about me. The trigger (throat clearing) is not the problem, it just triggered repressed anger. I can be happy that I am aware of the emotion and decide to just let it go or I can work on it in meditation in terms of transforming anger into wisdom.

    2. Realizing that this feeling has to do with someone treating me inappropriately, I also realize that there is nothing I can do about it. For example: When my boss tells me I have to stay late and I cannot financially afford to offend my boss right now. Something real triggered my feelings, but I make the decision not to confront my boss about it because of circumstances. So just like in the first example, I work with these emotions in meditation. Let go of the story about the boss and be one with the anger and it will transform into wisdom.

    3. When I’m not sure if this feeling is all my stuff or if I have a legitimate gripe with you. Or, if I’m pretty sure, your behavior is inappropriate. This is the time to use direct communication.

    4. When the event that triggered my feelings is such that I need to take an action. For example: I hear the neighbors beating their children. This is the time to immediately call the police. My emotions may be giving me the information that I need to leave, to notify the police, to sign a petition, to quit my job, to march on Washington etc.
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