One of the things I love about teaching is providing my students with the skills to start with maybe. It is a gift I have had to work on and am still working on in my own life. I have found there are some people in my life who because I have agreed with what they said most of the time, I tend to start by believing what they say all the time. Conversely, there have been those in my life with whom I have disagreed the majority of the time, so with them I found it easy to disagree with whatever they have to say before they say it. All this changed for me when I started teaching critical thinking skills to my students. As I did, I had this ah ha moment that I needed to do the same kind of critical thinking with everything in my life as I did with scholarship.
I was no longer actively listening. It was as if I was listening in my sleep. X said it so I must agree with it. Y said it, so I must disagree with it. Applying my critical thinking skills to my daily life, I realized everything starts with maybe. Regardless of who you are, maybe I will agree with you and maybe I won’t. As a result, I have learned valuable lessons from people with whom I have tended not to agree with the majority of the time. It reminded me of one of the principles of Satyagraha which is that even our adversaries have something to teach us. It has reminded me we all have something to teach each other. We are all teachers, learners, and doers.
Sometimes we have to be open to the wisdom and intuition of people we do not know. For example, this evening (May 16, 2012) we had a tarot demonstration at the Love Café gathering. I asked a participant I had not met before to answer my question. I had no reason to believe him or not. However, his words touched me so deeply and brought tears to my eyes. It was so powerful. Because I had no reason to believe or not believe him, I started with a maybe. As he spoke, what I felt was love and the presence of the Spirit in his words. Had I not listened with a maybe, I might have missed the blessing of his words and his message for me.
It is important for me to remember to listen to everything I read and hear with a maybe. Just because someone I like says it, does not mean it is true and if someone I do not tend to like says something it does not mean I cannot believe it. I have to listen to everything I allow into my heart and spirit with a maybe.
Starting with maybe is about the gift of discernment. One of the things I am doing right now is going through a process of weeding in my life. There are people and things in my life that are no longer energizing and life giving. Just as I listen to the writings of scholars and spiritual teachers, I can use these same gifts to filter out that which I speak to myself, absorb from others, or even continue to engage in. Every six months I look at everything I am doing to decide what needs to continue to stay in my life and what has served its purpose. I listen to the ideas in my head, the suggestions from others, and the feedback from others. I begin the discernment process over each aspect of my life with a maybe and then discern what stays, what goes, and what I will reconsider later. If something is not about helping me to achieve my dream, then I need to put it in the discard pile; if it is then it gets filed in the to be used file. However, until I have clarity and know what to do, it stays in the maybe zone.