“Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.” – a Zen saying
Developmental shifts happen all the time. And they are very hard to spot.
In my last blog (…conscience as necessary forgiveness…), I described the developmental shift that happens when the intangible is more highly valued than the tangible. Necessary forgiveness re-establishes trust. Trust and forgiveness are what we give ourselves once we accept the intangible – both as an expectation and as an agreement. There is more than “heaven and earth” here – if we can learn to see it.
Today, I want to look trust’s intangible possession. That is, if trust is what we give ourselves, then conscience works with that to create feelings of reciprocity and vulnerability. We become possessed by the reciprocity and vulnerability which our trust requires.
For example: I trust you to “consult” me before acting. Vulnerability is created if that “consult” doesn’t happen. Our shared commitment establishes reciprocity. I hold myself (and you) accountable. Trust’s intangible possession becomes a living dream, one that can lead to disappointment should trust be broken. (See …conscience and the horsemen of the disappointed dream…)
And no one’s commitment is perfect. So how we share reciprocity and vulnerability must be flexible. We need the possibility of recovery. That’s why forgiveness is so important.
And today’s topic … “trust’s intangible possession” … might be more easily approached with a couple of jokes … so bear with me for a moment:
- Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor? … and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
- Why is the man who invests all your money, called a broker?…
- Why is it that doctors call what they do “practice”?
Humorous, right? Each joke plays off of something we trust. Lemon juice should be real, dishwashing liquid should be phony. A broker should make money, and doctors shouldn’t “practice” on their patients.
And what all this misdirection highlights for us is the underlying energy we harness when we trust. Breaking trust releases energy. In this case that energy serves a humorous end. We laugh. And correspondingly, we exercise “necessary forgiveness.” Trust is immediately restored. Nothing changes.
And that result actually demonstrates a developmental shift. Rather than fixate on the perception of broken trust, we let it go. We self-correct.
Socially, these jokes are satisfying because nothing is actually threatened. We recover without even thinking about it. We are pleasantly surprised being momentarily fooled. We accept the folly of our self-determination.
And remember: Trust is what we give ourselves — after we enter trust’s intangible possession. Once possessed, we use its assumptions to color our perceptions. We become entirely immersed in the world which it creates.
So consider the following examples of trust’s intangible possession.
These illustrate different worlds that we can give ourselves at any moment. These examples represent developmental milestones, because they capture a specific way of “being in the world.” These particular trust examples have historically shaped collective expectation and action. They are common patterns which hold significant energy – even though they compete with one another.
Might makes right: “I can stop anything that threatens me by using my physical strength to overcome it.” Here is a desire that generates trust. The reciprocity and vulnerability which this trust creates receives confirmation developmentally through object permanence and concrete manipulation.
Rule of Law: “Whatever is right must conform to the rule of law either as empirically constructed or socially constructed.” Here, too, desire generates trust. The reciprocity and vulnerability created here receives confirmation through physical observation and consensus agreement.
Self-Authoring Rule of Law: “Rules should conform to my wishes and desires; they are valid.” The reciprocity and vulnerability created here receives its confirmation through introspective ego identity and choice fulfillment.
Hopefully, these examples illustrate how trust’s intangible possession generates competing “bids” for collective action. They shape different desires and expectations, which correspondingly we use — on ourselves and others. Why? Because we want to position our trust within our developmental heritage – even when that heritage internally competes and leaves us confused.
Using the Zen saying — “Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.” — the trust we give ourselves limits our perspectives. Standing away from their possession can shed new light — but only if we overcome the need for confirmation.
Thanks for listening!