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I recently heard a lecture which annoyed me. Okay, it’s my problem, but it was a similar problem that drove me out of the Spiritual Awareness Community. In both of these organized groups there were leaders who were doing the same thing, and now that I think about it there is another group that I attend, … oh no … there is yet another group that I attend that has this same problem.

The problem is that each of the people leading the group was speaking and acting and thinking in absolutes, but what they were talking about wasn’t an absolute. The problem with stating a perspective on an idea as an absolute condition of the reality of the situation is that it destroys any possibility of perceiving the whole situation’s other qualities. Think of the famous group of blind men feeling an elephant and all of them getting a totally different understanding of an elephant. That reduced and categorical way of thinking is putting complex ideas into conflicting boxes.

The speaker, right before my eyes and ears, was creating tight boxes with every sentence he spoke. He then strung these boxes together into positive-sounding conclusions by adding a coating of good-sounding buzz words.

Perhaps the actions proposed were okay, but because his thinking for getting to these actions was based on categorical boxes filled with broken shards of good-sounding ideas, it would be inevitable that catastrophic problems would arise. When he encountered a person such as himself, or even himself at a later time, using that same method of boxing ideas there would soon arise insurmountable definitional problems and conflicts would occur. Those conflicts would be unresolvable, and thus combats would ensue and suffering and eternal resentments. In the case of a person reasoning using these boxes, they would create unresolvable conflicts with themselves. These kinds of box-thinking people are ubiquitous here in Bend and probably elsewhere too, but they are not universal.

This particular event was beautifully presented by a professional speaker working from a prepared text, and that’s why it became so vivid and thus annoying for me. He wasn’t making slips of detail in fast-flowing conversation. No. He was being very deliberative in his speaking, but almost certainly unknown to him he was also creating dissension among the members of his audience and within himself.

An encounter with a skillful speaker awakens me to a frequently encountered problem.