Becoming Stronger & Stronger

Saturday 19 January, 2002

07.00 E&M 60 mins. This morning I fixed the toilet handle in true Karaj style – nut & bolt – and prepared the rooms for the women’s group while the others (Karaj, Robert, Dev) removed the earth from the pathway which had slipped from the raised walls last Saturday (61 buckets. Total 4022).

A Breakdown

On the way to the village to get provisions for the group I was running late and began to hurry up, experiencing the usual anxiety which lateness brings. I told myself to relax, I’m doing all I can and that everything will be okay. At the shops everything ran smoothly and worked out fine and as I returned to the house I passed Dev and Robert. Dev calmly told me that Karaj had broken down, no-one need know and that they were on their way to pick him up. This kept me calm and the situation was dealt with very smoothly by everyone; I chatted to George and maintained telephone contact with all concerned without any fuss or panic. The learning point for me was that it is not what happens to me in life, it is how I react to what happens that defines who I am. Leon wrote the same to me on my birthday in Sicily.

Dev’s learning from the breakdown of the car set himself up for a day of negativity and withdrawal. When asked by Karaj for his learning points, he explained that because Karaj was delayed, his own focus had gone to the women’s group and the fact that it would start late. This was a rescue on Dev’s part and Karaj was very forceful with him when he told him that he (Dev) had disregarded the all-male company he was in and his attention was on women. In addition, he had disregarded the positives: his calming words to me, for example, and the way he took charge of the situation. This is not on, and the consequences of his negativity and his focus on women reverberated around his entire weekend.

Seeing How Effective I Am

After sorting out the car, the four men stood in the garden while Karaj facilitated the women’s group. George talked about the negativity of his colleague and I challenged him that he encourages it with his own negativity. He was reluctant to see it but I knew I was right and pursued him about it until he agreed. I did the same about his attitude towards his lessons and brought Dev into the conversation to talk about visualisation, as he had done with me on Wednesday. George later commented that I am becoming stronger and stronger all the time, and I am having good insights. I didn’t let go and he really appreciated my challenges.

There was a similar experience during the lunch break. I helped Karaj prepare the food and also found time and space to myself at the end of the garden to do some stretching exercises. As I was finishing Robert came down and I asked him how he was. He told me that he had hoped for a restful day but that whilst the day was proving useful, he was still hurting from the events of the last few days and, having just shared those events with the rest of the group, he felt uncomfortable again. I told him it is better to work on it while it is still there, rather than allow it to settle and come back again unannounced at some future date. He agreed. I notice how effective I can be when I simply verbalise what I am feeling rather than try to solve problems or say something profound or useful.

Self-Respect

We joined the women’s group for a few hours. We had intended to travel to Sunil’s to work on his flat but a few hours turned into a few more hours and we stayed with the group until 05.30 the following morning. It started with a list of what women want from men – respect, consistency, companionship, support, not too many questions and independence. Karaj explained that it was all bollocks because all anybody needs is self-respect. When we have respect for ourselves, nothing else matters because it is our self-respect which ensures that we protect ourselves and, as we do so, we define what we want and will tolerate nothing less. The list – and it is the same for any list which men may come up with about women – implies that it is up to others to satisfy our needs. With self-respect we give ourselves the responsibility of satisfying our own needs.

Men & Women

Following a lunch break, the group’s discussion moved on to relationships between men and women. Dominique could not accept that men and women cannot easily have relationships with each other without playing games. She posed some useful questions to me and the other men about our attitude and attraction to women. I found this helpful because when I spoke I affirmed to myself who I am and I did so in front of women, which made a difference of some sort but I’m not sure what – it was as if I was informing all women of my position regarding relationships and sex. It was liberating.

I said that, as a man, I have an instinct to copulate which I have to work hard at switching off (all I seem to be able to do is turn it down) and which makes my life difficult at times. In contrast, my attitude to relationships is clear and simple. I am becoming increasingly aware that they do not work for me and the fact that I only desire a girlfriend or companion when I am ill, low or depressed tells me all I need to know. With self-respect I am better off on my own; my life is simpler and I do not get involved in so many games. That is not to say that relationships between men and women cannot work – they can, but only when each person does not interfere in the life of the other. When Dominique asked us what we want from women Dev decisively said ‘sex’. She did not believe us but it’s true, no matter how much we try to kid ourselves that we can have everything else. The only comparison the women were able to draw was their mothering instinct. Women can mother almost anything if the conditions are right and, often, once it is triggered it is difficult to switch off again.

The discussion lasted a couple of hours and it served to reaffirm to me that I do not need a relationship with a woman because the chances are very high that it would not work. [Wrong.] Furthermore, as the day opened up, I was able to see that my time and energy can be better served working on more worthwhile relationships.

Normal Communication

I read the letter I wrote to my dad last week to the group and received some lovely feedback from the women. They told me that it was a beautiful letter, strong and tender and powerfully read. Dominique said that had she received such a letter from one of her children she would really appreciate it. She felt privileged to have heard it. Karaj told me I am a ‘good boy’, I’m learning and that after such positive feedback I should stay balanced and safe.

Robert then read his latest correspondence with his daughter who is presently in New Zealand. It was a beautifully spiritual and deeply connecting communication which made me cry. I cried because here were two human beings communicating with each other in a way I believe we should all communicate. I told Robert it was very special but Karaj contradicted me saying that such dialogue is not special, it’s normal – most other communication is abnormal and heaped in game-playing. I see what he means. That is they way we should all communicate. It is normal communication and something I must keep in mind when I engage with others. The correspondence touched everyone and when Sunil fed back about his own father – not having known him very well and only having one book of his with a few, treasured underlinings in it, and how he would love to write a letter to him although he is dead, but does not know where to start or what to write – everyone was touched again.

Final Feedback

The final lap of summary and feedback lasted for a few hours. There was a long discussion, again involving Dominique and Karaj, on racism. Every time this subject is raised I am lost. For whatever reason – probably naïvety – I have no handle on racism and anti-racism. In the course of this final round, I received the following feedback from people:

  • Thank you for bringing your letter to the group, and it was lovely to see two generations communicating normally and without any games. (Imogen)
  • The letter shows your maturity and steadiness which has been there since you decided to be balanced and consistent (Sunil)
  • You have moved in and out of the group, contributing effectively, and have been involved in my life all day (Robert)
  • It was a privilege to hear your letter (Dominique & Harriet)
  • Be safe this week – don’t crack your skull after this positive feedback. You’ve been invisible, doing work in the background – well done (Karaj)

The group ended at 05.30 and when Robert dropped me off he asked me if I wanted picking up later. I said ‘no’, and he asked me if I was sure. The thought of an extra half hour in bed seemed appealing, so I agreed. He said he’d pick me up at 12.45. Sunil would remind me later that my first instinct is usually the right one.


2 Responses to “Becoming Stronger & Stronger”

  1. Chuhr Says:

    I will never forget the challenge, it went so deep and really shook me up. I still don’t know or understand why it was so strong or its purpose.

  2. Jonathan Lewis Says:

    I still remember thinking how well you handled the whole thing. You played a senior role so often and I was always glad that you and I had so much in common (I remember needing to sign any cards before you because, without knowing, you would always write what I wanted to say). You are inspiring in so many ways and I guess the challenge was all about wanting you to see how good you are and how great you can be when your focus is in the right place.

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