“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
There is a field.
I’ll meet you there” (Rumi)
As the world contemplates yet more conflict in the supposed cause of wrongdoing and rightdoing, the poem by the Islamic mystic Sufi Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī serves as a useful reminder across the centuries and cultures of what is universal to us all – if we pause and reflect. There is indeed a field, which we each find in our own way.
In the ruler and warrior traditions as usually conceived perceptions of wrongdoing are usually followed by knee-jerk responses of counter-action. These counter-actions, often intended to punish or deter have very often been followed by escalation of conflict and thus results well beyond what the originators intended. However, we don’t pause and reflect on what we’re doing, so caught up as we are as humans, in the world of ego, in the sense of “rightness”. Only later do humans tend to reflect and wonder on the utility of what they do, often too late.
Hence the very act of pausing has great, universal value. It can open the portal to a higher truth, beyond perceptions of right and wrong, and beyond different ideologies and belief systems.
Taking a pause in the onward flow of thoughts, wonderings, ideas and action is an opportunity to become aware, be present, be mindful, notice what’s going on, take stock, review options, develop new strategies, become resolved. Our glass might need regular replenishment and it’s good to stop and allow it to be refilled from the abundant river of the universe.
In meditation, practitioners may often become aware of the gap between the inflow and the outflow of the breath, and the outflow and the inflow too, and allow their awareness to be present there. In the flow of conversation there are pause points, as people take breath, collect their thoughts, and reflect on what’s being said. People may have pauses between jobs when they need to think about the way forward and re-gain new energy. We go on holiday to “have a break” and allow ourselves to get a re-charge or whatever.
In the pause can be silence and stillness and it can also be pregnant with new possibility. The skill is to be unattached to what may emerge – and even to whether anything may emerge! The creative space needs that opening, the right brain to be freed of the logic, rationality and judgement of the left. Habitual learning is to cut that off, as part of the survival and coping process of everyday life, but it doesn’t serve us for long. In the silence of the pause there is infinite possibility. Many options lie there, more than we consciously know. NLP has it than we can only hold plus or minus 7 such pieces. So think what else is floating around!
Caught up in ego, we get attached to a particular option and lose the ability to take the broader view and access other ways of acting, including not acting at all. In the present situation in the Middle East we here in the west seem to have lost that ability to hold a higher state and be the witness.
Being the witness, connected to your own deeper truth, helps give you the ability to be present with What Is, to choose not to engage, and to allow things to be – and maybe in the process resolve themselves as they need to. While caught up in being “right”, in positions, in beliefs and in culturally-inherited attitudes, we lose that ability and descend into child-like conflict, where nobody really “wins”.