In association with

Seeking To Understand

Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.
InnerNet Weekly: Inspirations from
Seeking To Understand
by Timber Hawkeye

[Listen to Audio!]

2419.jpgMy friend Julie and her husband argue about the “right” way to do laundry: he loads the washing machine with dirty clothes, adds a cup of detergent on top, turns on the machine, and walks away. Julie, on the other hand, is a firm believer in starting the water flow, pouring-in the soap, and then adding the dirty clothes to the mix. They both want the same end result: clean clothes, but they go about it differently because his priority is minimal effort and to be done as quickly as possible, while Julie’s priority is to make sure the soap fully dissolves in the water before adding the clothes.

It reminds me of working in the kitchen at the monastery, where two members of the kitchen staff were asked to peel and cut ten pounds of carrots into small matchstick-sized strips. It took them about four hours, which drove the efficiency expert in me crazy. “Why not use the food processor?” I asked the head of the kitchen, “They would be done in 10 minutes!” And he told me the goal wasn’t to get the job done as quickly as possible, it was to offer the students four hours of mindfulness practice in the kitchen.

You see, what I failed to do was contemplate the WHY behind his instructions. The food processor would have chopped those carrots in minutes, that’s true, but the kitchen manager prioritized a meditative practice over efficiency and expediency (at a Buddhist monastery no less… Go figure!) Why do we always assume we know what’s best? I took myself to the meditation hall and sat with my ego until it agreed to play nice.

We sure do excel at judging what people do and how they do it, but we fail miserably at trying to understand the WHY behind their actions. When we share a similar goal with someone but their priorities differ from our own, their actions seem backward to us, counter-intuitive, silly, and even “wrong.”

Think about it: if you keep getting irritated by someone who refuses to change, it means you also refuse to change, right? Saint Francis of Assisi knew the importance of seeking to understand rather than to be understood. And since we can’t wrap our heads around other people’s logic by using our own, let’s not criticize what we don’t even try to understand, because once we get it, there would be nothing left to criticize.

Go ahead and contemplate the WHY behind your own actions, and you might find you have that in common with everyone around you.

Inner peace is the first step we can take to live in peace with others, so let’s take that step together.

About the Author: Timber Hawkeye is an author and a mindfulness coach.

Share the Wisdom:
Email Twitter FaceBook
Latest Community Insights New!
Seeking To Understand
How do you relate to the exhortation of not criticizing what we don’t even try to understand? Can you share a personal story of a time you avoided the temptation to criticize and instead tried to understand? What helps you remain committed to understanding the why behind your own actions and those of others?
Kristin Pedemonti wrote: Seeking to understand is how I’ve always tried to enter every encounter and it has opened up so many meaningful learning experiences and broadened my perspective. How? Seek to enter conversation as…
Jagdish P Dave wrote: How to build, sustain, and strengen the bridge of relationships between two people with the same goal but different or opposite approaches? This is a big challenge for sustaining and flourishing inte…
David Doane wrote: I support not criticizing what we don’t understand, which means we would criticize very little. When I pay attention, watch, listen, ask questions, am open, and learn, I gain at least some small amou…
Share/Read Your Reflections
Awakin Circles:
Many years ago, a couple friends got together to sit in silence for an hour, and share personal aha-moments. That birthed this newsletter, and rippled out as Awakin Circles in 80+ living rooms around the globe. To join in Santa Clara this week, RSVP online.

RSVP For Wednesday

Some Good News

• Thich Nhat Hanh: Ten Love Letters to the Earth
• From the Oldest Forest in Montana
• Tracking Wonder

Video of the Week

• You Are the Kind of (S)hero We Need

Kindness Stories

Global call with Nipun Mehta!
608.jpgJoin us for a conference call this Saturday, with a global group of ServiceSpace friends and our insightful guest speaker. Join the Forest Call >>

Back in 1997, one person started sending this simple “meditation reminder” to a few friends. Soon after, “Wednesdays” started, ServiceSpace blossomed, and the humble experiments of service took a life of its own. If you’d like to start an Awakin gathering in your area, we’d be happy to help you get started.

Forward to a Friend

Awakin Weekly delivers weekly inspiration to its 92,750 subscribers. We never spam or host any advertising. And you can unsubscribe anytime, within seconds.

On our website, you can view 17+ year archive of these readings. For broader context, visit our umbrella organization:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: