Kendo’s Healing Message for June

How open-minded do you think you are? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a test for such a quality, where we could examine the results like a credit score and think about ways to improve things? Although this idea may sound like the kind of conformity encouraged in a dystopian sci-fi future, it’s actually a nice thought experiment.

Kendo points out that in the west, we are barely ever encouraged to be objective about our subjectivity; what this means is taking a step outside ourselves and evaluating the self we see as dispassionately as possible. A related aspect of so rarely stepping outside ourselves is to rarely question the objective value of what we take into our minds – it’s so easy to ‘go with the flow’ of our social group, particularly our social media group, and become caught up in things that may actually be superficial. How would we know if we don’t occasionally ‘reality-check’ ourselves?

As Kendo has often remarked, the apparently rational, reasoning mind is fallible and can fail to guide us wisely if we don’t use it wisely, and this means putting it in its proper perspective. It is healthy to be skeptical about our own minds – if they aren’t as clever as they tell us they are, we should make them work hard to justify their positions! And what is the only sure way to intuitively know whether our minds are serving us well? Meditation. Switch it off for a while, get in touch with your deeper self, and develop that intuitive double-check to use alongside mere rationality.

It’s amazing how transformative this practice can be, because it’s not until we step outside our conscious ‘psychological present’ that we begin to appreciate how unsophisticated its ideas are; when the mind becomes tempered by wisdom, a person achieves a higher level of existing and interacting with all around them.

A key example of this could be attitudes towards race. For many, there may be little more than an awareness that differences exist between cultures and races, but that is not enough for harmonious interaction between all members of society – indeed, a mere awareness of difference is a rational quantity which is simply not enough – it must be informed by objective, intuitive wisdom. In the 1980s Cold War era, singer-songwriter Sting released a song which used the medium of music to challenge western attitudes to the feared communist east; regarding the prevailing fear that the ‘other side’ may wage nuclear war on us at any time, Sting’s lyrics remarked that “…it would be such an ignorant thing to do if the Russians love their children too.” This elegant artistic fragment bypassed entrenched views and shed new light on the other side as being human too, and just over four years later and following a great deal more intuition and aspiration and hope from countless others too, the Berlin Wall came down.

Artists are fortunate to be able to escape the limitations of consciousness as they open themselves to inspiration, inspiration which may be capable of inspiring others to the extent that the world can be transformed. But, as Kendo says, we are all capable of escaping dogma, fixed attitudes, biases, and even inappropriate opinions of which we may be barely aware, and with which we have unquestioningly lived for some time, and we can do this simply by switching off our minds, finding a moment of Zen peace, and re-booting ourselves with a new objectivity.

Rationality has limits – wisdom has none. We should choose to be the wisest we can be, as Kendo always says, to be the best we can be, for ourselves, our families, and the whole of society.

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