Friday, April 09, 2010

DIARY 123 - Troubles Braids

I've never been one who actively enjoys, or seeks to create, situations of contention or controversy, I find myself temperamentally averse to them. In the last week, however, I've stumbled into the centre of a hornets nest of upset and disapproval. The cause was my starting a work project to convert the lunchtime sleep room into a small lunchtime shrine room. I was expecting there would be some resistance, but nothing too major. But within a day there was a petition, with an ever increasing number of names appearing on it. Any collective warehouse meetings I was present at, had an awkward atmosphere with an unvoiced strongly negative feeling tangibly hovering. Eyes avoided connecting with mine.

The accusation was 'a lack of consultation', which was true, there was none, because I mistakenly thought it wasn't such a big deal, so wouldn't be necessary. Though I doubt that lack of consultation was really the issue, nor that if I had done any, that it would have made the slightest difference to the level of reactivity. I've been reflecting over the last week on consultation. Folk usually cry out about a lack of consultation only when something happens that they don't agree with. When its something they agree with, there is rarely a call for consultation then. Only a psycho-pedant would consistently call for consultation on every occasion or circumstance. So prior consultation, though seeming so reasonable, isn't what its about really.

Consultation has the virtue of sounding principled, whilst secretly being partisan. It passively punches someone in the face, whose viewpoint you don't like - you didn't consult me you bastard!! A call for consultation is often a procedural obfuscation, politicians use it all the time. If a policy initiative goes down badly its buried in a consultative process. By the time the consultative committee reports, passions have cooled, and no one quite remembers what the fuss was about. So, several months later, whether the committee comes out in favour or against a governments policy, no one gives a fig. Whilst your in such a process you're delaying taking that unpopular decision. Calls for consultation are frequently using a democratic process, either as a form of smokescreen, or to bury the oppositions viewpoint in it .

Anyway, I wrote a response, explaining what I was doing and why, for publication in the weekly Newsletter. I've had a number of bits of positive feedback, but there are still some faces even more set in stony disapproval. Though the issue seems small, its caused all this furore, touching a raw nerve or two. It represents a dichotomy in Windhorse, and more broadly, between individual needs and habits and collective practice and spiritual vitality in a Sangha. The two often work against each other. So in this case, sleep is set as having a higher value in the hierarchy of needs than meditating. As Windhorse currently has no freely available space for anyone to meditate in every lunchtime, this is to my mind a calamity of significant proportions. Effecting any change in a Buddhist business is, paradoxically, more difficult than in an ordinary business hierarchy.

The effect on me of all this has been the arising of a huge amount of fear and anxiety. I don't know exactly what I'm fearful of happening - but disapproval, being ostracised, hated or attacked verbally or physically, are definitely in there as chief suspects. There is no talking myself out of this reaction, its something from my existential being that I just have to endure. I took my time over my written response, and I think in the end I got the tone right, reasonable, but clear where I stood. After all ,I stand to gain very little from this, I want to do it for the benefit of everyone, and the spiritual efficacy of the business. I need now to move on from this issue, I've plenty of other projects and ideas to be getting on with. So whoever makes the final decision will do so without me. I've had enough of taking all the flack, of people ignoring the difficult choices the issue raises, and shooting at the messenger.

2 comments:

Jayarava said...

I've been aware of the situation from a distance. I must say that many people sound more focussed on sleep than on waking up, which as you say is a calamity in that context. I've never known another business cater to adults who feel the need to sleep in the lunch break (or at other times). A sleeping room was farcical from the start.

Anyway sorry to hear that you've been getting grief over it.

JR

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