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Christian Meier

Successful Miscommunication. Another source of inspiration.

Ah, yes, I understand! Ah, yes, I understand!

I work in an environment, where there has to be a lot of interpersonal and group communication. In fact, the whole aim of our work is to communicate FOR our clients. So one would assume that me and my colleagues are kind of masters in communication – whether in written or spoken word, by visual or auditory means or whatsoever. Nevertheless it is fascinating to be witness of how rarely communication works, even in the most basic daily business.

Not long ago, for example, I gathered two or three of my people in my room, it was supposed to be a briefing for an advertisement. As I was already very aware of the fact that people can think of all kinds of things when I only use words, we all looked at a screen. The screen showed a) a rough scribble of how our client suggested the ad and b) an empty white page. I explained that the design of the ad should fill the whole page. We discussed several things, agreed on everything and went off to do our stuff.
About a day later I received the first layouts. They showed a page with quite some white space all around, an outlined box in the centre, and the ad filling the box. When asking, why the ad was only filling the box and not the whole page, the answer was: “Well, we ALWAYS had ads in boxes! How could we possibly have known that this time, you don’t want us to have a box?!”
This amazed me quite a lot, and when my anger had calmed down (of course there was anger towards the people not LISTENING to me, but also towards myself not being able to EXPLAIN appropriately) it slowly became clear to me that this little example, unfortunately, shows the very nature of ALL our communication. Or, let’s better say, our attempts to communicate. (And I assume all of us could fill at least little booklets with similar stories.)
Reflecting on these daily experiences, it became obvious, that, first of all, we have so much stuff in our mostly confused and distracted minds that it is hardly possible for us to listen to what another person actually SAYS. IF we can listen, the words are immediately processed by tons of past memories and all kinds of hopes, fears and expectations. Distorted like this, they are put in our pre-defined concept-boxes, cutting off everything that could be in between. Once they are in there, we feel satisfied having “understood” and forget the rest.
If this is the case even with regards to these really banal things, how much more must it apply to more complex, “unsubstantial” topics? To “things” like love, joy, subtle levels of intimacy, feelings of inspiration? No chance, I guess. Or, even worse, to “very uncommon topics of inner experience” like devotion, compassion or stages of so-called realisation?? Any attempt must be a complete joke.
At this point I remembered the words of my teacher saying (in a very rough paraphrase): ‘Here in samsara (which means in our confused state) there is no successful communication. The communication of samsara is miscommunication. And when we think it works, it is just unsuccessful miscommunication.’ The first time I heard this, I couldn’t quite understand. Now it makes a lot of sense.
Now, the advice that my teacher gives us to deal with this chaotic state, includes first of all emptying our minds of all the unnecessary stuff, step by step, making us able to PERCEIVE more clearly. Then, of course, practising mindfulness and awareness – not only during our meditation sessions but especially OUTSIDE our formal meditation sessions. And, on a very practical level, reassuring our communication with others and installing “safety mechanisms” like involving several people when passing on an information.
But for me, what brings the greatest “relieve” at the moment, is to first of all ACCEPT it the way it is and to relax in it. And to become familiar with the fact that the clearest and most direct communication does not happen on a “logical” level by using the intellectually most precise words, but on an EXPERIENTIAL level, using my sense of direct knowing. This is, of course, at the moment not very well developed, but I already have some glimpses, most of them in the presence of my teacher, when it sometimes feels like “pure knowing” pouring into me, without any effort.
I find it very alleviating that beyond my “German tendency” towards precision and efficiency (which I still find very useful in many ways), a whole world of “undefineable” but nevertheless much profounder and in many ways more precise communication opens up. A direct understanding that can be captured more clearly, let’s say, by a very short Haiku than by a whole scientific essay.
Like these ones from Basho that I collected randomly:
Wrapping dumplings in bamboo leaves
with one hand
she fingers back her hair
piercing the rocks
cicada's shrill
Taking a nap,
feet planted
against a cool wall.

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+1 # chama 2012-06-27 23:46
Thank you Christian. (sigh)*
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0 # Christian 2012-06-29 23:10
T'was a pleasure...
Hope you are fine!
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0 # chama 2012-06-30 20:02
Thank you again, Christian. It could be better. It seems the intensiver I try to practise the more negative elements are attracted to throw me stones on my way producing successful misunderstandin gs, confusion - even physical damage -yesterday I had a bike accident with 4 seemingly 'ritual' cuts on my arm. As I still hesitate looking for a master -but only refere to teachings of soygal rinpochet and djk - I probably need some point of reference beside that.Maybe you have some advise for me Thank you Chama
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+1 # Christian 2012-07-08 13:02
Dear Chama!
It sounds like it is a difficult and "shaky" time for you, and not easy for you to find faith and inner stability. This for me is the most essential, to have faith in the face of whatever we experience. To know that whatever appears to us is a ripening of seeds being planted, to know that if we just leave it for what it is, "embrace" it as a friend, it is the ultimate purification.
Myself, I have been given the gift of good health and some basic faith and stability of mind, but at the moment I face some great obstacles in the business and material area. It is for me connected to topics like loss, failure, being incapable, not being able to protect people, having fear of losing my material basis of existence and so on. Being aware that this is the effect of seeds being planted in my mind, and that experiencing and acknowledging them is the only way to liberate them so that they no longer remain in my mind stream, helps me keep up my faith and be confident. Otherwise, it would be a great "opportunity" to wallow in self-pity and to complain about the "unjust world". Also, it helps me a lot to reflect on what unbelievable obstacles other people had to face, and their faith and love towards all beings grew even stronger with each adversity.
Regarding the topic of "the master", I thought that you were a student of Sogyal Rinpoche. I myself was lucky enough to run into his arms, and again lucky enough to feel at least some of the blessing, so that I didn't feel the need any more to compare and search around. For me, he is the root guru in this life and all to come. All the other lamas he invites and makes available to us, are a wonderful extension and skillful means to help transform our mind. But at the end of the day I think it is not so important to find the "right" master but the one we can have devotion for, and then trust this one completely. It is about the "divine love" in ourselves that is being induced by our deep devotion towards the "outer master". But, for the time being, we definitely need one!!

Maybe some of this is of help for you. I pray that you may have good guidance, and that the actual obstacles may be stepping stones on the path to enlightenment. All the best -- Christian
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0 # chama 2012-07-18 14:51
Dear Christian,
thank you so much for your thoughts and your compassion. Soygal Rinpoche - special
y his book of living and dying - has enrichened and changed my life and brought me on the path of Tibetanian buddism. But still I am wandering around trying and searching. ..Just to find a little bit of peace from time to time means a great step to me. Whatever,
for you and your work I wish you the very best from my heart.
love Chama
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0 # Pablo 2013-03-18 14:41
The biggest myth about communication is when peple use words such as "effective" and "successful". I prefer to refer to the principle of "One cannot not communicate". All behaviour is an expression, therefore one cannot not behave. Behaviour is a broad concept, one cannot not live or be.
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