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"An attitude of openness protects us from the tendency to evaluate the consequences of our efforts as triumphs or failures. An undesirable outcome is not a failure but new knowledge which, if applied well, helps us to avoid making the same mistake again"

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Read more about Jorge Waxemberg

 


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Our Relationship with Ideas
by Jorge Waxemberg

A different vision from our own is not necessarily mistaken, but simply another way of focusing the question. It is good to compare our opinions with those of others, not with the purpose of arguing for or against them, but so as to better understand our own position and that of other points of view.

The third kind of relationship with new points of view is that of silence- experimentation. In this relationship, we become open to new ideas, to different points of view. Our relationship with ideas goes beyond agreement versus rejection. Otherwise, instead of learning something new, we would see the context of those ideas only in opposition to our own fixed ideas. Rather, we now strive to learn something new.

It is not necessary to "believe" in new points of view, new concepts, new possibilities, even though they may open up new avenues of experience and knowledge. But we do need to consider and study them. The teachings that surround any experience give good results when we approach them as an investigator, open and free of prejudices. With silence-experimentation we learn to listen, to open up to a panorama wider than dogma. To listen and become informed without deciding beforehand what we will think is an excellent way to expand our understanding and to renew ourselves innerly.

When we discover an idea that is clearly useful, we need to look for a way to apply it in everyday life, so that it does not become just a passing idea. Even the simplest understanding requires an interior method of work if it is to become part of our lives. To practice what we learn for a while might be very satisfying; but to make that new understanding our way of being we need to maintain an attitude of observation, experimentation and fidelity. If we persevere in that effort, we begin to acquire wisdom.

An attitude of observation allows us to understand inner processes without distorting them with subjective interpretations. In this way we can identify what we need to change or improve and what concepts we need to apply in each case so our new understanding becomes a permanent conquest.

There are no set solutions for the challenges of life, nor are there fool-proof recipes to apply at each moment of human unfolding. The fundamental concepts of spiritual life have to be experienced by each person according to circumstances and individual characteristics. True spiritual principles are not in opposition to the results of analysis and experimentation. On the contrary, evident truths prove the validity of spiritual principles and these in turn teach us to use well the power that comes with knowledge.

To experiment is, first of all, to discern which concepts or points of view we need to explore to expand our horizons; second, to choose the way to apply those concepts in our lives; third, to evaluate the results obtained and, finally, to continue correcting and adapting our actions as needed to obtain the best results possible.

An attitude of openness protects us from the tendency to evaluate the consequences of our efforts as triumphs or failures. An undesirable outcome is not a failure but new knowledge which, if applied well, helps us to avoid making the same mistake again.

If we want ideas and experiences to really teach us, we have to always be ready to expand our point of view. Not all points of view are equally valid, since an impartial opinion is broader than a selfish one. To tell the difference between one and the other, we need to universalize the way we think and to learn how to resolve differences through continually expanding our interpretations.

We can, step by step, assimilate the teaching of life by maintaining an open and receptive attitude. Whoever wishes to cultivate the art of living is not waiting for a great teaching to come along, because life is like an open book. When we know how to read it, it shows us how to understand our experiences and to know ourselves.


Reprinted from The Art of Living in Relationship.

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