Chapter 22 When you are not understood

第二十二章 當你不被理解的時候


22. When you are not understood

I am sure that all of us have been here: you are explaining something to the assembled multitudes in great detail. Your audience of two looks on in rapt attention. “What a clever man,” you say to yourself, “what an erudite and intelligent man.” You deliver your main point and that is responded to with a bewildering question. You realize in a moment of lonely horror that they have not understood what you said, not at all. Whose fault is this? It is, of course, your fault.

The great quest for human beings is to be understood and respected. Often our conversation, unfortunately, falls outside the “veil of understanding.”1 The only way to obtain this connectivity, many believe, is through love. “In the stillness of your presence, you can feel your own formless and timeless reality as the un-manifested life that animates your physical form. You can then feel the same life deep within every other human and every other creature. You look beyond the veil of form and separation. This is the realization of oneness. This is love.”2

What Eckhart Tolle (b. 1948) is referring to, however, requires deep introspection, meditation and practice. It is most certainly not achieved when one is in a state of fear or of conflict. I would like to share a rather amusing experience that happened to me many years ago. I was at a house party with some friends. The news was permeated with some conflict or other in the Middle East3 and Turkey figured prominently. These geopolitical moves were very important, or so they seemed to me.

I was speaking with two, yes two, young women and regaling them with my intimate knowledge of politics, art and philosophy. I had, actually, recently finished a book on the Middle East4 and felt all knowing about Turkey. I got right into the subject matter. As any effete and arrogant teacher, I assumed that you knew nothing. I talked on and on, and on. Their eyes narrowed, obviously in comprehension: hubris did I hear hubris? The one woman, that good-looking-California-type, turned to me and said, “So, do you like your meat white or dark?” “Sorry,” I responded, rather baffled, “I didn’t catch your question.” “Do you like your turkey meat white or dark?” “White,” I replied. I made my excuses and slinked away: shattered, I felt shattered.

What an anagnorisis, what a discovery! You were completely not understood – completely! A valuable lesson had been given. The only person I know 100% is the self -- myself. The rest depends on the levels of interest, comprehension and, of course, intelligence. But most people are the same when it comes to cognition: very few are not and very few are gifted. We are all basically the same, I believe.

That tenebrous journey that all of us make into the self must be filled with some laughter. You need to not take yourself too seriously. Yesterday, I went to the gym. It takes me time to get organized. I envy Phileas Fogg: I truly want my own Passepartout.5 Regardless, at present, this is not the case. As I fumbled along to the fountain to fill my water bottle, I noticed that my cell phone was refusing to go into the pocket of my shorts. I realized, to my dismay, that I had put my shorts on backwards: now that is a first! I thus began the day with a nice measure of humility.

22. 當你不被理解的時候

我相信我們每個人都曾經歷過類似的情況,當你詳細地向聚集的群眾說明一件事時,你那兩位聽眾聚精會神地聆聽。「多麽聰明的人啊」,你對自己這麼說。「多麽博學又聰明的人。」你分享你的主要概念,而聽眾回以一個令人困惑的問題。就在那個時刻,你意識到他們完全一點也不明白你所說的話,這給你一種孤獨的恐懼感。這是誰的錯呢?想當然,這是你自己的錯。

人類最想追求的是被人理解和受人尊重。然而不幸的是,我們的溝通常常都落於「理解的遮罩」1之外。很多人相信,唯一能夠促進彼此理解的就是透過愛。「在你內心寂靜的時候,你可以感覺那無形和超越時間的真實,那控制你外在形體活動的生命力。你能夠在其他人或其他生物上感受這深層的一面。當你看穿了形體和分離的面紗時,便能達成身心合一的境界,這就是愛。」2

然而,艾克哈特‧托勒(1948-)所談的道理需要我們深入反思、冥想和練習才能體會。當人處於害怕或衝突的狀態時,顯然無法達到這種境界。我想要分享一個有點好笑的經驗,這事情發生在好幾年以前。我跟朋友們參加了一個家庭派對,當時的新聞報導很多中東地區3的衝突事件,而土耳其扮演很重要的角色。這些地緣政治的事件非常重要,或者說對我個人很重要。

當時我正在跟兩位年輕女子聊天,是的,就是兩位。我談論一些我熟悉的政治、藝術和哲學知識來娛樂她們。事實上我當時才剛看完一本關於中東地區的書籍4,覺得自己對土耳其無所不知。我立刻投入這個話題的討論。就如同許多無能卻又自大的老師,我認為對方什麼都不懂。我一直講一直講,講個不停。她們的眼睛瞇了起來,明顯表達她們理解我的談話內容。我有察覺到自己的傲慢嗎?其中一為洋溢著加州風情的美麗女子,轉向我說:「那麼,你要吃火雞的雞胸肉還是雞腿肉?」「抱歉?」我回應著,帶著一點困惑,「我沒聽清楚妳的問題。」「你要吃火雞的雞胸肉還是雞腿肉?」「雞胸肉。」我答道。我找了個藉口就先溜走了。我感到十分震驚。

多麼令人驚訝的領悟,多麼重大的發現啊!你所說的話人家完全不懂,完完全全不懂!我從中學習到一堂寶貴的教訓。我唯一能夠百分之百認識的只有自己—我自己。其他就靠興趣、理解,以及當然還有智商等因素了。但大部分人的理解能力其實是一樣的,很少人缺乏天份,也很少人是天份過人的。我相信大家基本上都是一樣的。

這趟探索自我的晦澀旅程必須多點笑聲。你必須避免將自己看得太嚴肅。昨天,我到健身房去運動,這花了我不少時間才安排出來。我真嫉妒斐利亞‧福克,真想擁有我自己的僕人。5然而目前情況並非除此。當我在飲水機前笨拙地裝水時,我注意到我的手機無法放進我短褲的口袋裡。令我吃驚的是,我發現我把我的短褲穿反了!這是有史以來第一次!因為這樣的緣故,我帶著一份謙卑的心開啟了新的一天。