A Cup is a Cup

How can any object have a relationship to itself? It would seem that an object can have a relationship to anything but itself. Think about it, a cup does not have a relationship to itself. It is the cup. Thus anything that can be identified as something that can be in relationship with an object is not that object. This can be a little mind bending in consideration to oneself because so many things that we might usually associate with ourselves are actually things that we have a relationship with.

The question remains, *what* is having the relationship? What is in relationship to self? What is in relationship to others? If I am my self, then how can I have a relationship to self? This would imply an “other” other than my self with which to have a relationship. As an inverse corollary, we could ask, what is it that we cannot have relationship with? Anything that we cannot have relationship with must be that aspect which is having the relationship – otherwise we would be able to have a relationship with it.

As this aspect that has relationships with other things, we see the relationships but do not see our true nature because we do not have a relationship with it. We are it. We are the cup that does not see itself. Thus our true nature is elusive.

Given that there is some aspect that appears to have relationships that we are able to observe, I want explore the relationship to what is thought of as self. This relationship appears to be the one through which we perceive our other relationships, notably our relationships to others and our environment.

These three relationships – self, others, environment – intersect and deeply impact each other. It is, however, from the perspective of self that we are granted some form of agency with which to affect the other relationships. The choices we make are subject to this agency, and subsequently affect whether or not our actions are in harmony with the rest of life.

So what does it mean to have a relationship to self? How do I see through the noise of every day living to accurately gauge the state of this relationship? Realistically, my awareness is limited by my understanding. As a human I am already limited in my ability to understand certain things. Beyond that my awareness is constantly growing and expanding. How can I rely on that as a barometer of my relationship to self?

Perhaps I am trying to make tangible something that is not. I am trying to create a complete understanding of something that is an endless journey. How can such a journey ever have a complete understanding? The only understanding can be that our understanding is never complete.

So in an ever changing environment, with a constantly expanding awareness, what am I left with? What comes to mind is an intuitive sense of direction, a sense of what feels right. You might call it heart. Intuition seems intangible, but it’s experience is visceral. I think the best way to cultivate this sense is deep listening and receptivity. Paying attention and observing both the inner and outer landscape in any situation. Intuition is, almost by definition, a sense that emerges out of openness. A guiding attribute in an arena full of unknowns. If everything was known, you would most likely not need your intuition to navigate your course.

I recently took an amazing course on edX about something called Theory U. This is a methodology based on observing, listening to self, rapidly prototyping to learn more and repeating the process to continue making progress around a specific intention. They call this “leading from the emerging future.” The idea being that usually we base our decisions on data from the past. But things change so rapidly now, that that data is often out of date with the present situation. This theory posits that the best way to make informed decisions is through a process of trying to understand what the future wants to be. This is a method of cultivating receptivity, listening to it, rapidly testing your intuition, and moving forward in the interest of greatest harmony with oneself, others, and the planet.

The capacity to do this would seem to stem from an inner relationship. Why is this important? It’s important because a receptivity to one’s inner state is a function of being in tune with one’s emotions. Our emotions are a bridge between our actions and our thoughts. We think of something, we do it, then we feel something about what has occurred. We can ask: Were we internally clear about our intention? Did our actions reflect our intentions? How did we feel about the outcome?

When we become disconnected from our emotions we become willing to do things which may be harmful to others and the planet. If we were to fully feel the impact of our actions we would likely be very mindful of our behavior. Perhaps this is what evolves to empathy – a deeper relationship and sensitivity to others. The capacity for such empathy stems from our inward connection to our own emotions – to paying attention to what is happening inside. Without this aspect of holding space for oneself, one is challenged to truly hold space for others. Being in tune with how we feel affects and informs how we act. How we act is the basis of our relationship to others and the world.

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