This comes from the discussions in the ‘mythos’ group, and celebrates that thought.
I want to start by quoting Aboriginal Elder, Ngangikurungkurr woman, Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr.
The whole piece is short and can be found at:
Its a bit odd to speed it up, so please read the whole if you can. She writes:
What I want to talk about is another special quality of my people. I believe it is the most important. It is our most unique gift. It is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to our fellow Australians. In our language this quality is called dadirri. It is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness….
When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening.
In our Aboriginal way, we learnt to listen from our earliest days. We could not live good and useful lives unless we listened. This was the normal way for us to learn – not by asking questions. We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting. Our people have passed on this way of listening for over 40,000 years…
There is no need to reflect too much and to do a lot of thinking. It is just being aware.
My people are not threatened by silence. They are completely at home in it. They have lived for thousands of years with Nature’s quietness….
Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course – like the seasons. We watch the moon in each of its phases. We wait for the rain to fill our rivers and water the thirsty earth…
We don’t like to hurry. There is nothing more important than what we are attending to. There is nothing more urgent that we must hurry away for.
I’ve also been reading Raimon Panikkar on receptivity. A similar point is being made. It is helpful to humans just to be open, to listen, to be aware of whatever is happening, with no rush to judgement, no interruption, no necessity to understand immediately. To refrain from our words, and our criticism of what is – even when what is, seems to someone else presenting what we think is a misunderstanding.
Dadirri, or receptivity, is just listening and being, not judging, not interrupting, not interfering, not even attempting control or to get a ‘good’ result.
It seems possible to suggest that this is the first call of complexity – when we realise the world is too complicated to fully grasp. Just to sit with it, and listen, without thinking we understand, or even trying to understand.
By this listening we allow the complexities to exist with us. If we are split, we allow our split without shutting it down for what we think is the best result. We accept any dark thoughts or fears that arise, without condemning them, and without obsessing over them. They are there, they are part of what is. Without judgement. We accept cheerful, good thoughts, without praising them and without obsessing over them, or trying to stop them from passing. They are all thoughts. We sit and listen. We accept the noise of cars and drills, and jackhammers. They are part of what is. They may not be the wind in the trees, or the calls of birds, but they too exist. We cannot separate from what is, however much we wish to. We cannot understand everything, however much we wish to. Some understanding will be symbolic, and need not to be foreclosed.
What we might call ‘bad’ is present and a judgement. What we might call ‘good’ is present and a judgement. Recognising either can be a mode of force, if we push one side and suppress awareness of the other. In Dadirri, we just be open and receptive to what is, and what flows, and what becomes. As the Elder states: “There is no need to reflect too much and to do a lot of thinking. It is just being aware.”
It seemed to me that many of our problems stem from a refusal to be receptive or to practice Dadirri. From a desire to separate from, or control, what appears to be the case.
In politics we rush to condemn, rush to argue, rush to self-defense and justification, before we have even heard what other people are saying. We perceive people as opponents rather than accept them as just being. We take them as bad, as harmful. Indeed we will probably rush to condemn our opponents for rushing to judge.
We don’t just sit together, listening and feeling and receptive, leaving aside desires for control or victory. Perhaps this seems impractical, but as long as it seems impractical, the longer we will refuse to try it out.
One person, I’m sorry but I forget who, recently asked something like; “What if the Australian prime minister just sat with Elders, rather than told them what his policies were, or told them what to think. Wouldn’t that really indicate a change and a new mode of being together?”
Another story I remember, which I may have got wrong, was that a mining company was talking to Aboriginal people about what the company offered, and they were getting more and more worked up as the Aboriginal people did not speak. Eventually one person said something like “How can we reply till we have properly heard what you say, and thought about it?” They might also have added “and heard what country has to say”. Maybe the latter is just romanticism, but that is the point – there is a lot to hear, to be open to. And this is so, nearly everywhere.
You can’t make urgent decisions urgently, without full listening to all beings involved, and the web of their interactions, as best you can. And that takes time, and lack of pressure, lack of push to conclusions. Life is complex. That is its nature and life needs attention, openness.
“There is nothing more important than what we are attending to. There is nothing more urgent that we must hurry away for.”
It also means that you may change your course, as more listening proceeds and you hear what was previously silent or ignored by accident.
It is not entirely silly to say that the uninvited, or the excluded, will come back strongly and unwelcomingly, unless we are ready for them, or welcome them in advance.
Sometimes, we may have to recognise that something is broken and cannot be fixed. We still have to be, and be receptive to that brokenness. We may never be able to ‘fix it’, but we still may have to live with it, and not always automatically force it together when it is unwilling or incapable.
Receptivity means being open to the possibility that events appear unpleasant. It does not mean denial of what is. We cannot fix things if we deny there is a problem, or if we fixate on what we think is the problem, or jump straight into what we think is the solution, rather than being open to the complexity of the problem and its branching out all over the place first.
This slips into caution about positive thinking. Positive denial, is simply denial of what is. This is a refusal to listen, a refusal to learn, a refusal to accept what was unintended, or to acknowledge the ignored that came back offended. It denies complexity and life.
Denial is not receptivity. Denial, as I understand, is not Dadirri. Useful positive thinking is listening, and assuming that something will arise that can be enough at this moment. It is assuming no difficulty is too great, although recognises it may be difficult the less we listen. Receptivity does not deny difficulty, it allows what is to be what it is, and for us to feel the way forward slowly and quietly, and be open to the responses that are engendered by what we do.
It allows complexity to be, and finds the best way through.