Dharma Topic: Clay Pots, Metaphors, and Mindful Speech

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Dear Still Water Friends,

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow, Thursday evening, after our meditation, we will recite thefive mindfulness trainings and focus our dharma discussion on thefourth training: mindful speech and deep listening.

Some time ago, an image came to me as I was thinking aboutrelationships. I began to imagine two people in a relationship asworking together to shape a container, within which communication andconnection can occur. Each person has one hand on a lump of clay, andtogether they shape it into a pot, perhaps on a potter’s wheel. Can onebe more responsible than the other for the shape of the container? Idon’t think so, because every feature of the pot that one person addsaffects — and is affected by — the features that the other adds. Ithink the same is true of relationships. Each of us reflects off of theother, and we respond to each other in real time, each constantlyshifting our approach, our energy, and our viewpoint in response to theother.

I like to think of each person as having 100% of the responsibility forthe container — the quality of the relationship. I know from my ownexperience that when both people commit to and take responsibility forcreating and maintaining connection, a deeply enriching relationshipcan develop. On the other hand, if I decide that I’ll only take as muchresponsibility as the other person, the relationship may beshortchanged because I don’t truly, consciously strive for the bondthat I really want.

The clay pot image, and the idea that we each have 100% of theresponsibility for the pot, always leaves me with a feeling of hope andoptimism about the possibilities for connection in my relationships.

So, here’s my question for you. Do you have a metaphor or an image ofhow you see communication and connection occurring in yourrelationships? How does that image make you feel?

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow evening and exploring the realm of conscious, mindful communication.

Warm wishes,
Peter Cook