To perceive a man means, therefore, to perceive his entirety as a person defined by the spirit. It is possible only when I spontaneously enter into a relationship with the other, so when he becomes a presence for me. (Martin Buber)
Communication is a process that influences who we are. There is a relationship between the quality of communication and the quality of life, between how you speak and listen and who you are. (John Stewart)
Currently, the phenomena that are briefly referred to as globalisation are becoming more and more dominant in the world. They strongly affect both the condition of the natural environment and human relations. The impact is generally considered to be unfavorable. That is why it is often said that we should start to perceive the world around us and other people differently and not treat everything only as a source of meeting our needs. Hence, the concept of maintaining a high degree of mindfulness in relations with the outside world. In the case of relationships with people, it is connected with an increased attention to their needs. It seems almost obvious that this way of seeing requires raising awareness to a slightly higher level, the level of full attention.
This need to be more attentive in our behavior – both towards the environment and people – seems to be becoming more and more urgent lately. It can be noticed that nowadays there is a growing tendency to perceive other people only as objects, almost ‘robots’, to satisfy one’s own expectations and imaginations. Such ‘treatment’ of other people is manifested primarily in direct interpersonal communication and causes internal degradation of both individuals and entire social groups.
In turn, the aforementioned mindfulness and attention to the needs of others, causes the maturation of a certain aspect in us, often called the soul, thanks to which both our internal state and social relations become fuller.
The concept of soul is understood in many different ways, but is almost always taken with some seriousness even by people who are described as “non-believers”. You may or may not believe in the existence or immortality of the soul, but it is difficult to avoid references to this concept in everyday language, especially when we start talking about the need for a different, better way of perceiving our everyday environment. In many cultures, it is traditionally believed that the soul is a place where fuller contact between people is possible.
Jan van Rijckenborgh in his book “The Gnosis in Present-Day Manifestation” states: The soul (consciousness) rules the personality, it builds and maintains it, and therefore also the body. The soul has five fluids (aspects): blood, hormonal fluid, nerve fluid, serpent fire, consciousness. So the soul and the body are closely related to each other, as if they interpenetrate each other.
Additionally, let us mention that Max Heindel in “Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception” (Ch. XVI, subsection: Alchemy and Soul Growth) writes: The Conscious soul grows by action, external impacts, and experience. The Emotional soul grows by the feelings and emotions generated by actions and experiences. The Intellectual soul, as mediator between the other two, grows by the exercise of memory, by which it links together past and present experiences and the feelings engendered thereby, thus creating “sympathy” and “antipathy”, which could not exist apart from memory, because the feelings resulting from experience alone would be evanescent.
During involution the spirit progressed by growing bodies, but evolution depends upon soul growth – the transmutation of the bodies into soul. The soul is, so to say, the quintessence, the power or force of the body, and when a body has been completely built and brought to perfection through the stages and Periods as above described, the soul is fully extracted therefrom and is absorbed by the one of the three aspects of the spirit (…).
We will not explain the terms used in these quotes and interested readers are asked to look for appropriate explanations in the books cited. Without this, however, we can say that the soul is considered to be something that constantly accompanies us in our relations with the environment and is a kind of intermediary in contacts with the more subtle dimension of the world, which is called the spiritual. The right kind of these relationships causes the proper development of the soul, and thus improves our contact with the spiritual sphere.
It seems obvious that the right quality of our contacts with other people is very important. Already in the Bible you can find exhortations to treat others as yourself, and therefore with great attention. This means that you shouldn’t see other people merely as objects – like a two-dimensional picture. You should establish fuller relationships with them, depending on the possibilities; even if they are very one-sided, when there is no reciprocation.
Conversation is one of the most important tools in dealing with other people; it allows us to get to know them better, and therefore is also a tool that enables us to perceive them more fully. However, other people should be seen not only as providers of information, but also as its creators. Sometimes talking to others may come down to an exchange of a few common phrases or conversational patterns, but you should always pay attention to a different, higher and more subtle level of each such contact, even if it is not expressed verbally. It is mentioned in the well-known biblical quotation: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Attention to the other persons can become the key to establishing cooperation with them on this important level of being together, and therefore also a way to create new opportunities for yourself. So, it must be kept in mind that the other person is the subject, a special being, not only an object. It is worth trying to be aware that each person is a unique, unmeasurable part of the communication situation; and it doesn’t matter if she/he seems good or bad. Because everyone is more than a combination of observable, measurable features and elements. How much we can perceive people in this way is most important to us.
So when talking, let’s be aware not only of what surrounds us or the state of the interlocutor, but also of our own consciousness, i.e. of the soul, because in every situation, in every moment of life, we have time to think and choose the right behavior, emotional attitude, intention and words. We can then consciously take into account our own and others’ perceptions, feelings and desires. Let us not react immediately and instinctively. Our words do not have to be the result of habitual, automatic reactions; we can always try to make them a carefully and intentionally created response.
It all sounds so nice, but often the person we meet behaves in a way that crosses our intentions, preventing us from carrying out our very “important plan”. Because she/he also has a “plan” and it sometimes collides with ours. Then it is easy to get into a conflict situation in which we forget about the subjectivity of this person. Because, on purpose or not, her/his pursuit makes it difficult for us to achieve our goals. We well understand that people don’t have to do everything that is expected of them. But why does this person spoil what we have accomplished with such difficulty? Why does she/he prevent us from taking care of what is so important?
But maybe it’s not that important? Maybe it is not important at all? Maybe it is even harmful, because it makes it difficult for us or for others to make a change, for which the time has already come?
We tend to think that the someone we meet may learn some things from us. But maybe there is no need to learn these things? Perhaps we encounter this person to find out that the things we consider so important are actually no longer needed at all. Because the other person does well without them.
So, as we can see, flexibility in seeking agreement and paying attention to others is extremely important. It must be remembered that we naturally tend to demand understanding mainly for ourselves and respect for our subjectivity.
We can, however, ensure this understanding and subjectivity for ourselves; we don’t have to look for them from others. And if we respect and trust ourselves, we will also bestow these feelings on the conversation partner. In this way, we contribute to the “growth” of the other person, because harmonious contact gives a chance for conscious development of both ourselves and our interlocutors.
Development understood in this way must, on the one hand, concern various abilities, skills and attitudes towards the surrounding world, built on the basis of information received from the outside. On the other hand, it is learning that our authentic “I” or our “interior” can be expressed in various linguistic and non-linguistic symbols. If we accept others and feel accepted, then our sense of security is strengthened and the feelings of personal worth and dignity are formed. They are essential preconditions for the effectiveness of any activity.
By talking, we can consciously experience CONTACT and PERSONS both in the material body and on various non-material levels. We can feel that “something” is happening between us and our interlocutors and that it changes us internally. Note that we are different after each conversation. Let’s enjoy this opportunity to build CONTACT with other people by sharing what we have with them – describing the world, transmitting thoughts, expressing sadness, joy, pain, and this intangible longing for another, more subtle dimension of the world.
Let us be open to otherness, try to listen more carefully and not perceive people only through our own expectations. Let us look for the Light in our hearts and in the hearts of other human beings. And let the conversation be one of our search tools. For the terms: ‘communication’ and ‘to communicate’ come from the Latin adjective ‘communis’, which means ‘common’. ‘Communicare’ (to communicate) derives from ‘communis’, which in turn means ‘make something a common matter’ and ‘to transfer something’. So communicating with other people leads to creating something together as a result of cooperation and understanding.
Finally, let’s add that we can communicate not only with other people. We can also contact our own inner being and thus begin to perceive it more fully. That is why it is sometimes worth breaking away from the struggle of the external world – on which we have little influence anyway – and direct our inner gaze upwards, where it is constantly expected in order to respond to it and thus be able to establish an inner conversation with us.