Saturday, October 20, 2007

The enlightening part... Dalai Lama, part 2

The same thing happened as I listened to the translator for the Dalai Lama at Wednesday's address on the Capital lawn as happened when I saw Thich Nhat Hahn speak in Maryland, seven or eight years ago. I wanted to hang on every word, but quickly found that an idea would be brought up that caught and held my attention, and I'd naturally go and think on it for a time, and then come back to the lecture when I'd masticated the idea pretty thoroughly. And then another idea would take me down a rabbit hole, and eventually I'd come back up again...

So as I listened to the Dalai Lama discussing non-violent resolution to international conflict, I found myself mulling over how that spliced into Stephen Covey's discussion of win/win, lose/lose, and win/lose and lose/win negotiations.

Covey, of coure, advocates going for a win/win solution, where both parties are happy with the outcome, because it's been designed to allow each party to meet their fundamental desires in the situation. It may not give them what they want in the way that they expected, but they get their needs met.

The next step, of course, in most cases is to go for win/lose. If we can't both win, I want at least to make sure that *I* win -- even if it means that you lose.

Then there's lose/lose. If I'm not going to get what I need, then I'm darned well not going to let you get what you need -- we're BOTH going to walk away unsatisfied.

And the dysfunctional response to the situation, perhaps, is lose/win. This is the one that I find I fall into when I'm really pissed off, honestly -- the one where I say, "Oh, yes -- YOU win. Go right on ahead and win, and watch me in my martyry martyrdom lose, and be all sanctimonious about it." I know I do it. Not smart or healthy -- but certainly a learned response based on years of it not feeling safe to ask directly for what I want, or expect people to negotiate with me in good faith.

So I found myself thinking about having a non-violent, peace-based response to something so profound as, say, having your country invaded. Non-violence, you'd think, would teach you to not respond with violence, which almost automatically means that the person willing to behave with violence is going to win. Could it be that the non-violent response is Covey's lose/win? But that one is the one that it's clear Covey and others see as the least healthy response, and that makes sense to me, because of the anger and resentment and self-righteousness riding under the surface in that response.

But as I continued to think on it, it's clear that the Dalai Lama is not a man prone to anger, resentment, or self-righteousness. He does not think of himself as losing, either, in the exchange.

I cannot explain the thought process that I went through, but I mulled for several minutes about it, and came to the surprising conclusion that by electing to lose and NOT feel anger or resentment, what looks like the losing position becomes the winning position, morally. Likewise, although the other party appears to win, from the ethical position, their outcome is revealed as losing -- as success without validity.

The key to the switcheroo, though, lies entirely with whether it is possible to hold the non-violent, passive position without anger or resentment, maintaining empathy for the other party.

This is the genius of the Dalai Lama.

2 comments:

Deborah said...

I found your observations and thought processes very interesting, especially as we are reacquainting ourselves with each other after some 28 years. That moral reasoning aspect of who really wins and how each feels about it is something I actually studied as part of my doctoral dissertation on gifted adults. I have a couple articles coming out this year on the subject, too. Being able to take the moral high road even if it means you "lose," but the high road leaves you feeling calm and good about your choices, that is akin to living and acting at a self-actualized level of emotional development. At such a level, bitterness does not exist. It is rare for anyone to reach such a level before they are older, usually over 50 or so.

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