Diane Musco Hamilton is a Zen teacher in the White Plum lineage and a renowned professional mediator. She has worked with Ken Wilber and the Integral Institute since 2001. Given the vast differences that separate nations, communities, believers, and zealots around the world, we were glad to see the prominent place she gives to the spiritual practice of listening. Hamilton sings its praises:
"Listening is the powerful, soothing agent of all communication. Listening is the best tool there is to lower anxiety, diminish division, and open into sameness, into togetherness. Listening will help almost anyone who is triggered to calm down. The deeply beautiful and profound thirteenth-century Persian poet Rumi says. "Beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." Listening is a gateway to that open field."
Any conversation is energized when individuals express differences. But what often happens is that we become aggressive rather than grateful for the chance to envisage fresh perspectives. Hamilton sees the value in even contentious discussions:
"Conflict is a way for us to learn how to integrate our differences. As we learn to include more difference, our relationships become more interesting, more authentic, more trustable. We have more bandwidth for the challenge of being human, and we can engage that challenge together."
The time is ripe to "take heart and assume that we can and will learn new ways of coexisting." Hamilton challenges us to constructively deal with our differences, activate our natural compassion, practice meditation, and act with emotional maturity in every difficult relationship in our lives.