How do we get by in a world that is shrinking? Or, how do we maintain a sense of security and a feeling of safety amidst a dynamically-diverse environment. In our everyday tasks and chores we are constantly bumping shoulders with people from all walks of life. In many instances we need to work with these people and it can be difficult to do that. Ideologies are different. Values and culture can be diverse too. And don't forget that communication norms are multilevel.
My teacher, Dr. Yang, is an accomplished author and martial arts master. One of the many lessons he imparts is the concept of being round on the outside and square on the inside. He tries to instill this concept based on the brain's tendency to scrutinize and judge, to the point that we criticize and condemn others. He tells us that if we must be "square" that we need to direct this observation within. This means that if we are holding others at such high standards, then we need to hold ourselves to the same or higher.
What he suggests is that we should practice being "round" with others. By this he means that we should be accepting and maybe even encouraging of diversity. This is not to say that evaluation nor analysis cannot not be present. One would have to literally turn off the brain. However, we should refrain from letting our minds lock-in on a particular judgement. We call this neutral observation. It promotes a space that is empathetic, yet still truthful. In addition, it does not mean that you should not offer healthy criticism. Actually, most people are open to it. As mentioned above, the mind has a tendency to criticize and if we observe closely, this energy can be a bit harsh. Is this healthy? Is judging productive or effective? When is it helpful to be "square"?
Dr. Yang reminds us that to be "square" effectively, we must continue to conquer ourselves, hold ourselves to high standards, which continually motivates us to grow and learn. What's also important is to identify the harsh squareness of others, to not be affected. After all, no one should know you better than you know yourself. We can be "square" skillfully because it is tempered with this self-knowledge. Conversely, you are not capable of knowing the make-up of another person and their learning curve. What would happen if we all went around being "square" on the outside as well as the inside, imposing our judgment onto others?
What would happen if we did this in our shrinking world? The physical structure of the square shows us that our sharp edges would poke and scratch the edges of others. In addition, imagine if all others were square too - all those sharp edges. Eventually all squares would get locked down into a position. But if we were round, our edges would expand and contract to the forces of pressure. Sharp edges would roll off th the side. We would flow about, smoothly and swiftly. The larger benefits point toward the ability to adapt and stay malleable. We would flow like water. And this is why Dr. Yang encourages us to be "round" on the outside, while reserving any squareness for inward practice. It brings us to the importance of just that, daily practice. Each person, each view, whether round or square, provides an opportunity for this cultivation of roundness and tempered squareness.
What do you think?
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