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Parents College – Week 13

Thursday 23rd July 2015

Wisdom & Presence


Our topic this week was broadly about “wisdom and presence” and how to apply what we learned at home with our children.
Chris Bolden hosted the meeting this week, and we started by listening to a brief excerpt from a conversation between Oprah Winfrey and a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thích Nh?t H?nh, who explained that “deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering … you can call it compassionate listening”.
A quote was read from “The Power of Collective Wisdom and the Trap of Collective Folly” (by Alan Briskin, Sheryl Erickson, John Ott & Tom Callanan), the first of what they describe as the “six stances” they believe help us to prepare for collective wisdom’s emergence, called:
“Collective wisdom begins with a commitment to recognize that we are more than just the sum of our external parts. There is an interior realm within individuals, groups, and larger collectives. Deep listening invites us to be curious about what is really going on inside the person, the group, or the larger collective. It is an act of being fully present with others, not simply an act of hearing or memory. What do people really feel, dream, and fear? Deep listening is a way to pay attention to both interior and exterior worlds in order for groups to make sounder judgments and act in accordance with deeper values.”
There was some discussion about some of the elements needed for wisdom to be able to be shared, including:
o Listening;
o Digesting;
o Understanding;
o Being open to correction (or at least to changing your own opinion – recognising
that you may not be the font of all wisdom – you should not see yourself and your
own opinion as the primary basis for what you believe and do – or for what other
people should believe and do


There was a lot of discussion with everyone contributing about difficulties experienced in being understood or in understanding others, including in the context of coming to Australia from other countries with a non-English speaking background; but also in the context of teaching indigenous children in Central Australia; difficulty hearing with hearing aids; and even living and working in other English-speaking countries, due to different accents making understanding difficult.  This discussion seemed to give the people in the room the confidence to speak more openly about their experiences and to contribute to the discussion.
This led to a lot of focus on the importance of “deep listening” and creating a space to share views and experiences.
One of the parents spoke of how she had come to do meditation since moving to Australia, and how it has helped her in her relationships with her husband and children and others, and in dealing with difficult situations.  Another parent talked of how she had always struggled with meditation, until she recently came to the realisation that meditation is about listening, not about finding answers or getting your mind to stop thinking about things altogether while meditating.
There followed some discussion about the difference between “self-acceptance” and “self-improvement”,  and “wisdom” rather than “knowledge”:
“When information doubles, knowledge halves, and wisdom quarters.” (Robert Theobald)
It was agreed that Chekam is the host for next session on Thursday 30th July 2015 and Anahata will bring some teaching and practice to the theme of “Listening through Meditation”.