Friday, May 22, 2009

Maturity - a journey from Birth to Death

Life is a journey from birth to death and there are many angles from which to look at this journey. One such angle is “maturity”.

At birth one is here to “get”. When a baby dirties his/her diaper they cry; the baby continues to cry till the diaper is changed or the baby goes blue in the face. The baby does this to “get” their diaper changed.

At death one leaves this world and whatever he has with him. Everything he had, if only a torn piece of cloth is left behind. He “gives” to anybody who is there to take it.

This is a journey from “get” to “give” and the journey in between is what I describe below.

The journey viewed in this way has three stations. The first station belongs to the baby and to the child who eventually grows into a demanding teen. When his demands cannot be met his parents “resist” and so the teen has to develop a new tactic. He has to “give to get” and this then brings him to the second station [He has progressed from “get” to “give to get”].

Many of us are now in the second station. Social exchange theory talks about an “economic transactional view of a relationship”. Since such a view is true of our closest relations it is also true of our interactions with other employees at the “work place”.

The reason most of us are compelled “by a force of nature” to move to the third station [in which we “give” without wanting to “get”] is the dissonance we feel in the second station. This is because as long as we expect to “get” we hand over some power to the "other" and this leaves us somewhat vulnerable.

Note if you want to “get” from somebody else, something tangible like “money” or intangible like “significance” the other will always have some power over you.

And this is why the “second station” may even be accompanied by a lack of “sincerity”. This is because the motive behind “giving” is not “for the sake of giving or helping the other” but for some “return”.

It is only in the third and final station that the person feels “complete tranquility”. Here the individual “gives” without expecting to “get”. The reason complete tranquility is only possible in this station is because when you stop expecting to “get” you close the doors to [internal] conflict.

The example below might explain the third station better.

This example is about a dispute between a Hindu and a Muslim over a garden [The roles of the Muslim and Hindu could very well be reversed; this example is only given to highlight the significance of the third station]. To resolve the dispute the Hindu sought the help of a religious Hindu group that decided to march to the Muslim’s house to demand the “papers to the Garden”.

With the mob outside and his family inside the Muslim “seemed to have” few choices left with him. He walked out to the group and asked for their leaders to come inside, to resolve the matter.

He showed the group leaders the papers, requested them to go over them and told them he would accept whatever decision they took.

The group left and the leaders were to review the papers. On review the leaders found clear evidence that the Garden did in fact belong to the Muslim.

They returned the papers to the Muslim and asked the Hindu not to misuse them again.

The point this example serves is: When the Muslim decided he could “let go of the Garden” is when he had most leverage over the situation.

The switch from the second station to the third station requires a change in perspective. You still “get” as the Muslim got back his garden but you get because people are “willing” to give. Here you get because you tap into the rules of nature [rules of reality]. You get because “God has promised this”.

Some people have also said of “heaven” and “hell” that to them neither is important; they are driven to fulfill their “purpose” by their “love of God” and by this love alone. Perhaps this is what they mean.

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