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Good morning!  Welcome to the DKos Sangha weekly open thread.

This is an open thread for members of the DKos Sangha and others who are interested in discussions concerning how we integrate our progressive political activism into our spiritual practice.  If you have observations about the political discourse of the week, or about practice, or about anything else related to walking a spiritual path through the political world, if you wish to share, or if you seek support, or if you simply want to say hello, please do; this space is for you.

If you would like to host a weekly open thread, please let me know.

If you care nothing for spiritual practice and only wish to denigrate and disparage, please do so elsewhere, and respect that this is a community diary for the DKos Sangha.

Friday night I was at a meeting of an intentional community group, and our guest speaker was Steve Torma of Earthaven who spoke some about NVC, Non Violent Communication.  NVC sounded like a very interesting thing to follow up on, and something to share here with the DKos Sangha as well; so I thought I would glance at Wikipedia and get some basic concept to share here with you this morning.

NVC was originally developed by Marshall Rosenberg in the 60's.  It focuses on three aspects of communication ..

self-empathy - defined as a deep and compassionate awareness of one's own inner experience

empathy - defined as listening to another with deep compassion

honest self-expression - defined as expressing oneself authentically in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others

At the meeting, Steve talked about needs versus strategies, recognizing that conflict is caused by differences in strategies rather than basic human needs which are common to us all.  The wiki article summarizes this pretty well ..
NVC is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or behavior that harms others when they don't recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs. Habits of thinking and speaking that lead to the use of violence (psychological and physical) are learned through culture. NVC theory supposes all human behavior stems from attempts to meet universal human needs and that these needs are never in conflict. Rather, conflict arises when strategies for meeting needs clash. NVC proposes that if people can identify their needs, the needs of others, and the feelings that surround these needs, harmony can be achieved.
Steve was talking about NVC with us as he finds it, in his experience with Earthaven and other communities, to be an important tool for resolving conflicts among members of a community.  But he also finds it to be a framework for understanding the way in which we relate with others, and how through that understanding we might be able to change our habits of thought and the habitual ways we interact with others.

Again from the wiki article ..

Nonviolent Communication holds that most conflicts between individuals or groups arise from miscommunication about their human needs, due to coercive or manipulative language that aims to induce fear, guilt, shame, etc. These "violent" modes of communication, when used during a conflict, divert the attention of the participants away from clarifying their needs, their feelings, their perceptions, and their requests, thus perpetuating the conflict.
It appears to me from my first brief glances, that NVC can be a very useful dharma tool for each us, no matter our spiritual tradition or path, as another way of looking at and understanding the conditioned thought patterns within us that arise when we react to what others say.  And it obviously can be a useful tool in understanding and more effectively engaging in the political process to bring about change in our world.

I'll probably be away from the computer for the rest of the morning and into this afternoon, as I have an out of town guest.  But I'll try to check in when I can.

If anyone has any experience with NVC, please share in the comments.

Enjoy your Sunday!


Originally posted to DKos Sangha on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 07:13 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Violent communication is so common (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4CasandChlo, Joy of Fishes, davehouck

    and so pervasive.

    Those of us who choose to practice non violence create a sanctuary for victims of a world driven by violence.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 07:33:23 AM PDT

  •  I've just read (5+ / 0-)

    Denise's piece on white privilege, which is very powerful and gives much food for thought.

    There is no question that there is an unseen world. The problem is, how far is it from Midtown and how late is it open? -- Woody Allen

    by Mnemosyne on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 07:41:04 AM PDT

  •  I think avacados are the best non-bacon food: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Though I don't need mojo, at all, I do get warm all over seeing lots of recs.

    So, if you agree that avacados are simply the best or hate them, please rec this comment. Thx.

    Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick: The "party of Jesus" wouldn't invite him to their convention - fearing his "platform."

    by 4CasandChlo on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 08:02:08 AM PDT

  •  Non Violent Communication (NVC) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davehouck, supenau, drnatrl

    is part of the program we use at the Nonviolence Legacy Project, teaching the principles of Dr. M.L. King to young people, especially at-risk youth.

    War beats down, and sows with salt, the hearts and minds of soldiers." Brecht

    by DaNang65 on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 08:33:11 AM PDT

  •  Clearly I should write a diary for this group (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on the practical application of the Bodhisattva vow to world poverty, which is what I do. I get to make presents for millions of children every day.

    Maitreya Buddha with children, Qibao Temple
    I am an inactive Soto Zen Buddhist priest (inactive since I got married to another priest) working with One Laptop Per Child toward a new kind of education for a billion children at a time. The stated mission is to end poverty everywhere. That also means ending the wide range of consequences of poverty, such as preventable death, disability, and chronic illness; political and social oppression; government corruption; and massive violence, including war and terrorism.

    Yes, those are children crawling over Maitreya Bodhisattva, the next Buddha, at Qibao Temple in Shanghai. This is a traditional meme, with many variations. I have even seen one of Jesus, friend of the children, in a Buddhist monk's robe, but that was before Google Images, and I don't know where to find it today.

    None of our efforts will make people happy. That requires getting over yourself. But it means that we will all be able to discuss it, that all children and their friends and relations will have a chance to hear of Dharma, along with all of the other teachings from elsewhere.

    PM me, davehouck or anybody, and we can talk about it.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 12:28:51 PM PDT

  •  Been thinking about empathy and compassion lately, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Joseph Goldstein says that compassion is not something that we do. It is, rather, the default state of an enlightened mind.

    I take this to mean that the more we experience life directly, and the less we filter things through ego's mechanisms of appraisal and judgement, the more compassionate we are... naturally.

    Empathy is still a bit of a puzzle to me. It's frequently associated with compassion and it's often contrasted with sympathy. My working definition is that empathy responds to a distressed person's feelings, whereas the sympathy responds only to the person's circumstances.

    I think what Pema Chodrin said about compassion applies to empathy as well:

    “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 06:06:06 PM PDT

    •  Yes; compassion as our true nature (0+ / 0-)

      Our true nature can be said to be compassion.  And yes, with the breaking of identification with ego as who we are and with the dissipation of egoic conditioning over time, the more we experience all phenomena as arising within the same space.  And as that experience deepens, we see ourselves in each other; we see that we are not separate one from another.  And compassion and empathy are a natural expression of that experience.

      Love one another

      by davehouck on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 07:16:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have a problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have run into more than one person who is a predator: their expressed needs involve harm to others. An example is the person who looks for partners who can be cowed and isolated, once the predator is convinced that the partner has no where to go and no support group, the predator starts using them as a punching bag.

    I do not understand how this or any other type of communication can assist with this type of person. Your comments please.

    •  Since I've only just been introduced to NVC ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      la motocycliste

      ... I don't think I can adequately address your example from that perspective.  However, I would tend to suggest that someone who is in an abusive relationship such as you've described should get out.  And I think that we as a community (a town, city, county, etc) should want to make support and shelter for victims of abuse readily available.

      I also tend to think that when someone is doing harm to themselves or others, the community should want to step in, since a community of human beings should care for all of its members.

      The group to whom the speaker introduced NVC is an intentional community; we want to communicate, and we want to foster an open-hearted environment in which all thrive individually and collectively.

      I suppose that when NVC is used in mediating disputes between nations, there has to be some willingness from both sides to find a peaceful solution, to find strategies that will meet the needs of both parties.  And I suppose there must be some recognition that meeting one's needs is more important than holding to some believed-in strategy.

      In your post, you state that "their expressed needs involve harm to others".  In my very introductory and rudimentary understanding on NVC, I would suggest that it is their strategies that involve harm to others.

      In your example, it seems that the strategy, the action employed by the abuser to meet their own needs, is all consuming; and the abuser has bought into the belief that causing harm is what will meet their needs.  Of course they may not even know or consider what those needs are; but there is a temporary, and illusory, perception that those needs are being met through violence.

      We always start where we are; and the communities we live in now have significantly inadequate methods for dealing with those who harm others.  We tend to lock them into prisons where the chances of receiving meaningful help seem remote; rather, the strategies of violence seem likely to continue.

      But those who would cause harm to others should be prevented from doing so.

      We start where we are, and we move forward from here.  Those who are on a spiritual path, learning about ego and how it works, learning about and working with practices to lessen the karmic energy and momentum of egoic conditioning, becoming more at peace with ourselves and others, we share what we learn with others.

      There does seem to be a "moral arc of the universe"; the progress that this community of the United States has made, slow as it may be, in civil rights, women's rights, LGBT rights, seems to support that perception of a moral arc, that we are moving forward, slowly, often painfully, as one global people, becoming more human.

      So yes, it is hard to see how in our present society we communicate with someone who is driven to do harm to others.  The protection of others from further harm comes first.  But it seems important that we as a community try to communicate, to share what we have learned, with every member of the community; that all are included.  As a vague notion, I suppose that means something like radically changing, over time, our methods of incarcerating people, choosing a path of therapy over one of warehousing.

      But moving our communities forward is a slow process.  So we continue to learn, to share, to practice, to grow, to deepen, to become more human.

      Love one another

      by davehouck on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 07:44:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  To explain: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Better and improved communication can assist with many problems, and make life better for many people. However, as in most situations in this wonderful but very flawed world, the world of samsara, of unsatisfactoriness, one size does not fit all.

      The best action in a situation where a person is actively trying to harm others is to stop them from harming others.
      The best way to do that depends on the situation.

      •  I wrote the "to explain" post (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Before your response came up on my computer. Thank you for your thoughtful reply

      •  Yes; I think we are on the same page (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        la motocycliste

        The language of NVC appealed to me since, even though the structure seemed to differ significantly from the way I tend to talk about dharma, it seems to offer a way of expanding the ways in which we can share dharma and use it to effect change.

        Part of the problem of the abuser is the society that person lives within; as you put it, "our very flawed world".  Thus, part of the answer in addressing the problem of the abuser is addressing that societal context; and we can do that by learning and sharing dharmas.

        I suppose that in some situations the abuser will be amenable to therapy.  NVC seems to offer an approach to therapy, an approach for that person who is willing to sit down with a therapist and begin a path of self inquiry, a path to ending their own suffering, a path to ending the patterns that have resulted in the violence they inflect upon others.

        Love one another

        by davehouck on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 08:23:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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