Guideline III
Rodney St.Michael
© 8-8-2002
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Guideline III

Never try to convince people to your way of thinking.  You may educate passively if you wish, but don't actively persuade.


If something works for you, such as meditation for instance, don't try to persuade others to think the same way.  People all have different points of view, and you have to respect that. Remember to tolerate, and practice gender sensitivity, cultural sensitivity, political sensitivity and religious sensitivity as much as possible.  Otherwise, you'll end up being argumentative and psychotic.

For instance, I find painted Hindu temples and idols to be very unattractive.  In fact, they look frightening when painted.  And during my stay in Colombo, Sri Lanka, when I facilitated technical training for several U.S. ISP tech support engineers, my work associates toured me around some of the Hindu and Buddhist temples there.  Some Buddhist temples had Hindu idols of Brahma, Shiva, or Vishnu--the Hindu Trinity.  And while I gazed at one of these strange deities, having multiple faces, or multiple hands, I couldn't help but wonder if these multi-tasking gods used to be ancient Indian gurus who had some form of mental illness, such as MPD syndrome.  So, while I gazed on one of these idols, a Buddhist monk passed by.

"Why does he have so many hands?" I politely asked the monk.

"It's too complicated," he replied.

My Sri Lankan work associate then introduced me to the monk as a visitor.

"I hope you enjoy your 'tour' around the temple," he told me. "And have good day."

He then left us by ourselves.  He gave a simple "answer." It was obviously appropriate for him to do so since engaging in explanation, debate, and persuasion was a total waste of time.  After all, I could have asked him additional questions like, "I heard from our Muslim Sri Lankan driver that some Sri Lankan Buddhist monks carry guns, is that true?"

And he could have answered, "well, hundreds of years ago, Buddhists monks invented Kung Fu to defend themselves.  But nowadays, some monks need more practical defensive methods against the Hindu Tamil rebels...Lightsabers are imaginary, you know! Ironically, it was the Chinese Daoists--the extenders of life--who invented gunpowder. And the Chinese would later use it to invent the world's first mines, flame-throwers, rockets, and of course, the earth's first gun, which the Chinese invented in the early 12th century. They probably never realized the extent to which it would be used offensively when they shared this technology with the Arabs and the Europeans. But sharing this technology allowed the weak to defend themselves against the mighty--the ones who argue, kill, and destroy anyone who disagrees with their beliefs."

Of course, in reality, the Sri Lankan monk probably would have answered in the same manner as he actually did: "It's too complicated."   And that's the best answer for most situations.

Explaining all that you know to a normal, average person is a lot like teaching Calculus to a first grader.  Of course, if you have the time and the energy to do it, you may teach.  Certainly the ancient crazy teacher, Pythagoras (known to math students for the Pythagorean Theorem) attempted to teach kids geometry and its method of proofs to improve their logical thinking.  In this way, they would not easily be fooled by certain politicians, clergymen, businessmen, or other con-artists.  They would know how to think for themselves.  

But this method is often so laborious and tedious, that its use should be reserved.  Imagine teaching geometry, calculus, physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, world religions, and psychiatry to the normal, average person just to make your point.  They will definitely think that you are crazy!  So just nod and smile when people try to say something that you may disagree with.

And don't take away other people's happiness.  If someone for example tells you, "Jesus loves me.  He is my Lord and savior," then just smile and be happy for him or her.  Keep it simple!  If that is how he or she finds happiness, keep quiet and just nod in agreement. Kindness is more important.  If you are argumentative, you may win because you are right.  But you will lose the goodwill of others.  In the end, it is better to "lose" and to win over a friend, than to "win" and to lose their goodwill.

As Hong Ying Ming says, “life passes by in a flash, yet people vie and compete with each other.  How much time do we have?  There is very little room, yet people contest and debate with each other.  How big is the world?”


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