Incorporating others’ thoughts expands your own
Everyone has an opinion, thought, and perspective but how often do you find a group of people wanting to listen to you without pushing back or trying to convince you of their opinion? Dialogue creates that space. You see your assumptions and your thoughts and learn how to explore within yourself. With no agenda other than to listen and expand understanding, dialogue opens the way to knowing yourself better.
The average eDialogue includes about fifteen to twenty people from around the world of different cultures and professions. Open to anyone who wishes to join in this process, the group meets every Sunday at 11:00 AM Eastern Time and lasts an hour.
In the month of August we explored:
- A quote from the Dalai Lama: “The purpose of life is to be happy.”
- “Always remember you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.” Attributed to Margaret Mead.
- Difficulties are a part of life, problems are not.
- The more we know, the more we know we don’t know.
In this post we are going to explore the second week’s topic: “Always remember, you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.”
Perspective: You are as unique as everyone else
Fourteen participants from Brazil, California, New York City, New York, Washington DC, Ohio, Colombia, Atlanta, and Argentina. Different cultures, different perspectives.
The quote credited to Margaret Mead:
“Always remember you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.”
The dialogue begins with two minutes of reflective silence.
Silence is encouraged in dialogue, allowing one time to listen to the “thinker” within one’s head. You know the one I am referring to, that interior thinker wanting to speak as soon as the person stops talking. Not only that, you feel your reactions and see the mind moving so quickly that it does not listen. The silence allows your thoughts to slow down. There are moments of silence between speakers for this reflection.
Dialogue perspectives from many places
What the dialogue group shared:
Shared a story in The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, where the Little Prince is talking about his rose on his planet that he left behind to explore the universe. He finds himself in front of a row of roses that appear just like his rose, which he thought was singular and not repeated anywhere. In this conversation with the snake, the Little Prince realizes he knew all roses because he knew his rose. Knowing the singular opens the door to all.
“‘People where you live,’ the little prince said, ‘grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they’re looking for…
They don’t find it,’ I answered.
And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water…’
Of course,’ I answered.
And the little prince added, ‘But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.’”
Unique perspectives shared
Maria Marcella, Colombia
Brought out the interplay of uniqueness. We are unique in and of ourselves, but this uniqueness is a part of all humanity. The word egoence was introduced.
I think this topic has a lot to do with egoence. To be integrated with oneself is to be unified with the whole of humanity. To be unique is to be one. This experience is singular and present with my thoughts, feelings, and actions. When present, I am who I really am, and then I am unique. And for me, this is egoence. It is the new paradigm for humanity.
We often think uniqueness makes us “special” or “better than” others, but in this context, it means we have certain gifts that only we can develop and offer to the world. In this sense, we are unique, but so is everyone else. If we each do our part, we participate in this great unknown.
I think it’s about the expansion of consciousness. And the thing that I understood about egoence is that we are individual, but we’re united with all the other individuals to create the whole of humanity. We become participants with the whole when we are conscious that our unique acts have consequences that involve all.
What is my perspective of “Others”
To me, this is two parts; the first is that I am unique. I am big for myself but small enough to be part of somebody else. And the second is the bumpy part, the acceptance that I am unique. I think the bumpy part, emotionally and psychologically, is accepting somebody else who has different: thinking, journey, background, and everything. And we must have a very strange and common sense to know we are the same at some point, or at least that we are all together, at the very end.
It helps me when I remember everybody is just as important to them as I am to me. Recognizing this allows a lot in relationships. I work with children and interact with their parents. We have natural likes and dislikes, and we have antipathies; we have sympathies. It helps me to remember. Because for a little kid, that’s all there is, themselves. I have that in common with them. And, if I recognize that, I feel much more inclined to be sympathetic to their problems and difficulties and feel like we’re all on the same path together.
Perspective: Parts of a whole
Maybe I should see my uniqueness more as a responsibility than anything else. I am glad we recognize the importance of the uniqueness of others because, to the extent I can remember, I will pay attention to them rather than stereotyping or lumping them together. So, recognizing the uniqueness of others means I need to focus on them, pay attention, and hear what they have to offer.
I remember seeing all the different types of people as a child, and I would marvel at their differences from an outward appearance. Like parts of a clock, each piece must work to create the whole movement. It helps to keep that in mind and not be so self-centered. And realize that it’s the interrelation that we have that makes things work. And really it is fantastic.
The experience of life
It occurred to me that we are exposed to all sorts of experiences in life. Some experiences are painful or joyful and may cause us pain, sorrow, success, or failure. And the way we respond to these situations is what makes us different. But even in one individual, the approach to such a situation may differ in a different stage of life. And in that, we are alike because we are already exposed to those experiences.
The word that comes to me from this quote is respect. And I realize when I have difficulties in my relationships, it reflects I forgot everyone is unique. I often react because I want them to be like me or follow my ideas and thoughts. So, the word respect comes for me to reflect on.
We like the word uniqueness because we know that we are recognized by somebody else because of our unique traits. But regardless, it isn’t easy to accept the uniqueness of a different person if they are too different from us. That is precisely the same feature creating a problem for us to accept in somebody else.
Carl Jung said that aspects of life are paradoxical. We are all equal, and we are all different. I’m independent and I am dependent. The Earth is a very precious place and is minuscule in a vast universe.
“Carl Jung wrote, ‘Only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fullness of life. ‘ We are complex beings who wake up every day and fight against being labeled and diminished with stereotypes and characterizations that don’t reflect our fullness.“
Perspective: a drop in the ocean
Maria Marcella, Colombia
I think we are Divine sparks; we are divine. A drop of water from the ocean contains the whole ocean. But in a specific moment, within time or space, this drop is a unique point of view in relation to the whole. This “unique point of view” gives this drop or human a particular consciousness. I can share my unique point of view. That is what I can give back to the whole, the experience of consciousness. That is why my uniqueness is essential.
I was taught if you prayed hard enough, prayers would be answered, maybe not the way you wanted, but they would be answered. Many people who grew up with this idea wonder, “Well, how could God be there just for me?” Then it hit me; maybe we’re doing that work. You hear, “I’m doing God’s work on Earth.” But perhaps that’s true; we can be channels and vessels. And maybe that is the meaning of life?
One of the things that I love about dialogue is the embodiment of the quote “each of us is unique.” Each of us has our point of view. It is evident from the perspective of our images on the zoom screen. Everyone is in a different location, with different surroundings. Yet we join equally. The idea Margaret Mead expressed is a process that embodies the experience of being unique. Recognizing that everyone is unique, and we are all uniquely the same.
We’re in the same place, sharing this experience, recognizing, in a non-judgmental way, the different points of view and perspectives and embracing those and incorporating them into the whole. Yet the way each of us processes is unique. I mean, this reversibility and flexibility of thinking: “Yes, that’s true. and yes, that’s true. Yes, that’s true. Yes, that’s true.” If they’re all true, the process is to be able to hold yourself in that suspended thought place. That freedom gives the joy of life being right in the flow.
Like individual puzzle pieces that need to be included and placed within the whole to get the complete picture.
Holding perspective takes inner strength
I reflected that another aspect is it takes a lot of inner strength to recognize and live one’s uniqueness. I don’t know if it’s part of human nature, but many people need approval from other people. And to get support, they do things or appear in ways other people will like. Simply the way you fix your hair, the clothes you wear, and the things you say. You change to get approval. You want other people to like you, so you may not say exactly what you feel or look the way you could. To be a unique human being is to live this, to live this uniqueness, and to recognize other people’s uniqueness. This movement takes a lot of inner strength.
The Sun Rays fall differently on the Earth, but they have the same source.
Maria Marcella, Colombia
The sun is the sun. And the opportunities that the sun shares everywhere are different. The sun shares light and warmth everywhere but with varying rays of the sun. And the opportunities that the sun shares everywhere are different.
This suggests a rainbow. Where diversity is of differing wavelengths, but from another point of view, we are all together in one light ray.
To me, this is about consciousness. We often don’t know how our actions affect others. People who find their uniqueness are willing to say or do things that help. And then others sacrifice their lives by being rascals and making everybody else adjust and decide which way to go. We’re never alone, but embracing our uniqueness is where we want to put ourselves.
Maria Marcella, Colombia
We are unique in that each occupies one space/time coordinate. And each of you can do one thing where you are, in the time where you are. I can do only what I can do. When I die, nobody can do, what I can do, it is lost forever.
I have such a yearning for connection. And the fact that we have all these diverse perspectives is wonderful, but it also means that I’ll never meet somebody who understands me completely. I’ll never understand anybody else wholly. And it’s a separation that makes loneliness there. So, in a way, for me having or the idea of perfection would be having such a connection that it’s like, we’re the same person.
Connection: Perception the end of duality
I read Joseph Campbell many years ago. He described a report of a police officer who jumped off a bridge into deep water to save somebody; he didn’t know how to swim. He couldn’t explain afterward why he jumped. It wasn’t a heroic act to him. He had a family at home who would have suffered if he had died. As I recall, Joseph Campbell described it as this man’s realization we are all connected, that he had to do it; it was something in him. All of us are part of the same pool somehow. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a nice feeling.
It sticks in my mind the concept that the perfect union is not possible at this time. That duality is there. How can we improve the connection and, little by little, erase the duality we all experience in our minds? How can we erase in our consciousness the duality we experience in everything? I don’t know the answer, but I feel the question is there.
I think most of the time, we approach life as being different from everyone else. I’m stunned when we’re not, and I love it when I find somebody or people that feel the same way. I think in terms of feelings, we are very much the same. Everybody feels pain and sadness, and I think that’s where we connect. But we should use our gifts to bring something to the world. Our unique set of gifts. It’s good to remember our impact on nature and that they are also unique.
That other people love themselves as much as you love yourself. Other people also have loved ones who love them as we have. So yes, we all deserve respect and kindness for that. Anyway, that’s it. I enjoyed this dialogue.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead
Speaking for myself, I find the dialogues stay with me over the week. My thoughts turn to what was shared, and how we view things differently and the same. In this case the wonder of being unique, only I can stand in the place I am standing right now in this space and time, but am aware that others have been here, and many more will follow. It creates a reverence for me, each moment a sacred trust.
About the Author(s)
Libbie is a graduate of Ohio State University where her degree has proven a flexible base for writing, teaching, and exploring life. She facilitates the weekly Sunday eDialogue.