5 September 2010

How do you work with a person or self-aspect that is so wedded to its worldview, that he/it cannot hear, see, or relate to a different one?  The person or self-aspect may be loving, talented, capable, respectful, and a great resource to have.  As long as you focus on its strengths and communicate in terms of its world views and the values that it has, you have a wonderful ally in growth, as we see in the following interview.  Comments on dealing with True Believers follow the interview.

(This is an interview of another dream character from a dream posted here, “Learning Compassion from a Hippie Woman.”)

I’m in the Los Alamos mormon church with Rex Friendly, a bishop of this Mormon ward.  He’s like the priest of a parish.  We’re not in his office (which is where I have met him in real life), but out in the building. There are lots of people moving around.  One is a very large woman with a long braid at the back of her head.  I say to her, “I think you were a hippie in earlier years” and everyone laughs.  I have a message for Ian: The two excommunications I have had from the Mormon church were examples of “unrighteous dominion” and therefore the Lord does not recognize them.  I am using church legal language to attempt to force a meeting on the matter with the local Council. My message is not only to see if the Church will acknowledge this unrighteous dominion, but also to use that acknowledgement to set an example for the city of Los Alamos, the originator of the Atomic Bomb.  If it can, then Los Alamos can transform its legacy and set an example for the world in terms of the possibility of transformation.  I cannot tell if the Bishop understands because he is being interrupted by others as we talk.  He looks at a man who is cleaning up after a church celebration and nodding approval at his cleaning up.

Why do you think that you had this dream?

I have a project I am working on in Los Alamos called “The Deep Democracy of Open Forums.”  Mary Wills book, “Bomb Power,” a history of the Manhattan Project.   It seems to talk about where I am and why I am in Los Alamos.  If that’s a grand delusion, it’s grand indeed.  It makes sense to me and gives me an enormous amount of motivation.

If it were playing at a theater, what name would be on the marquee?

“Transformation of Los Alamos”

These are the characters in the dream, beside yourself…

Building, Ward House, Rex Friendly, Hippie Woman, Vacuum Man, Rug, Debris on Rug, People milling about, Los Alamos, the Bomb

If one character had something especially important to tell you, what would it be?

Los Alamos Mormon Ward Bishop Rex Friendly

Rex, would you please tell me what you look like and what you are doing?

I am a balding 35-year-old man in good physical shape with wife and three young children, recently arrived in Los Alamos from Pennsylvania, where I completed my medical residency. I am building a new medical practice with an ENT specialty. No sooner than my young family and I arrived a year ago, I was called to be the bishop of the Los Alamos Ward. I had a premonition of this calling before I left Pennsylvania when I dreamed of two buildings which I could choose to enter. One was red brick, the other white. Even though the white building was in a more affluent area I chose the red brick building because I thought it gave a greater opportunity to serve.

I am now very busy with my practice, church calling and family and enjoying every moment. I feel blessed to have these responsibilities and opportunities to help people of all kinds.

What do you like most about yourself in this experience? What are your strengths?

I like that I am responsible and love people. It is a privilege to serve. My greatest strength is my love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the holy LDS priesthood.

What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses? What?

I really don’t dislike myself at all. On the contrary. If I have weakness it is lack of experience. I am eager to learn and receive counsel so that I can be a better servant.

If you could change this experience in any way you wanted, would you? If so, how would you change it?

I would not change anything.

If that experience were to continue, what would happen next?

I would want to understand Brother Kovalenko better. He seems to have a lot on his mind. I am open to developing a relationship with him and see much potential for good in him. I hope we can help each other.

Rex, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change? If so, how?

(You are in this person’s dream or life experience, correct? They created you, right?)

This is an interesting question. I think Eugene may have a projection on me, and in that sense he has created me. However, I believe that there is more to this situation that a projection. I can see a greater divine purpose in operation here.

(Character), what aspect of this person do you represent or most closely personify?

I think I represent Eugene’s desire to serve the Lord and I’m interested to help him do that.

If you could live this person’s waking life for him/her, how would you live it differently?

This really is not my job to do. I do not know him well enough to suggest how he should live his life. He is much older and more experienced than I. Nevertheless, I believe I can be of service to him in being open to his honest approaches to me and the church people.

If you could live this person’s waking life for him/her today, would you handle his/her three life issues differently? If so, how?

Again, this is not for me to say. I cannot evaluate his life issues.

What three life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of his/her life?

This would be presumptuous of me to say.

How would you score yourself 0-10, in confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, peace of mind, and witnessing? And why?

A most interesting set of values. I will answer as best I can.

Confidence: 9. I am still learning my craft and adjusting to church responsibilities. What confidence I lack is compensated by my reliance on the Lord and his local and higher level priesthood servants.

Compassion: 10. It is why I am a physician.

Wisdom: 8. I am inexperienced and do not want to take on airs.

Acceptance: 9. I think I accept people and situations as they are. But I do draw a line on certain misbehavior.

Peace of Mind: 10. I am deeply in tune with the Lord.

Witnessing: ? I am not sure what this means.

Rex, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different? If so, how?

I don’t know that I would be much different than I am. I’m sure as I gain experience I will grow in wisdom and acceptance. I still don’t know what you mean by witnessing.

How would this person’s life be different if he/she naturally scored high in all six of these qualities all the time?

I’m sure he would be a fine church leader.

In what life situations would it be most beneficial for this person to imagine that they are you and act as you would?

I would love to see him come back into the church in full activity. I do not understand his reservations yet.

Why do you think that you are in this life experience (or dream)?

It is very clear to me that the Lord has brought him into our midst. He has experience that I hope will be valuable to us. I believe I have been brought into his life to help him gain full stature in his spiritual calling.

Eugene, what have you heard yourself say? (Read them over)

Rex Friendly has come into my life at an opportune time. Whereas I have had much conflict within myself and with the Mormon Church leadership, Rex represents the best attitude he has encountered. It bodes well for a constructive, mutually beneficial relationship.

If this experience were a wake-up call from your soul, what do you think it would be saying to you?

Keep your relationship with Bishop Friendly positive. There is much good that will come of it!

It  is pretty clear from the above that Bishop Friendly will be a great resource as long as it is within the context of the Mormon Church and its belief structure.  However, raising the issue of  “unrighteous domination” would threaten that belief structure and doom any attempt at dialogue or support on other matters, including the Democracy Forum.  Problems only arise for true believing self-aspects when their worldview is questioned.  They are deaf, dumb, and blind when it comes to taking seriously, or seriously entertaining as equally valid, other world views based on other premises.

This self-aspect sees everything in terms of service to the Lord in the context of Mormonism, but it could be a true believer in any “ism,” for instance, global warming denial, Republican trickle-down economics, or vegganism.  We often encounter this problem with lovers: we have so much in common and must get to know them quite well before we come to realize that they really, honestly see the world quite differently than we do and have absolutely no interest in changing their viewpoint.

You must choose to work with such individuals (and stuck or addicted parts of yourself!) within the context of their world view.  You give them something they want while you and your interests benefit. We do this when we get married, go to work for an employer, join the military, join a church or political party.  Such institutions see themselves as open-minded but in fact are highly exclusive and largely intolerant of those who disagree with them.  The higher in the organization you are the more likely this is to be the case. The problem is that they have their minds made up and any alternative world view threatens theirs. In our grandiosity we often think, “I will become a True Believer.  Once they see how wonderful I am and how much I have to offer that will help them, they will listen to me and change.”  This generally amounts to self-delusion, wasted time and wasted effort.  Recommendation: don’t try to change such individuals, self-aspects, and organizations.  Appreciate them for who and what they are.  Take advantage of their many strengths.  Ignore and avoid engaging them on the level of their delusional world view or you will wish you hadn’t.