Monday, July 31, 2006

Today's Wisdom

Okay, so here's today's bit of wisdom from

"There is a statement that I have found very helpful over the years: 'All that I see is none other than myself, but with a different name and form' "(Christopher Titmuss, An Awakened Life, p. 16)

Okay, not being at all familiar with this text or Christopher Titmuss's work, I'm going to respond to this totally out of context. (But then, it is presented that way by the folks on the website...)

Yes, to recognize the humanity in other humans, shared sentience in other animals, the essence of life and matter in our surroundings--this is an important step in accepting our shared existence and becoming stewards of life. I really do believe that, and it's what I grew up believing, thanks to a non-observant neo-pagan Mom and some smart folks at the Lutheran church.

But, as so many have noted (those of you who have read relevant theories or essays are welcome to add some thoughts!), we must be cautious about assuming that the other is exactly like us. I would hope our goal is to value the other completely, while recognizing the limits of our understanding. That is, we need to acknowledge the limits of analogical thinking, the pitfalls of "you're just like me."

Thich Nhat Hanh advises us to be fully present, and to allow and empower the other to be fully present. Only then can we begin to open ourselves to learning about the other.

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