Interviewing a Ming Vase

What could a Ming Vase possibly tell you about issues of intimacy, commitment, and money? As it turns out, a lot.
Here is my paraphrase of what a Ming Vase told this professional photographer living at a distance from his x-wife and his troubled thirteen year old daughter, who is rebellious, very angry at her mother, avoiding school work, and running off to spend time with drug-using friends.  The daughter learned a lot about who her father really is, and what he struggles with, apart from who she needs him to be – her rescuer from the persecution of her mother and her boring school life. What she will do with this new father, who is opting out of drama, remains to be seen.
My hope is that by reading this summary and the very interesting interview that it is derived from, you will get a clearer sense of how you can use Integral Deep Listening to get to the heart of how and where you are stuck and what you can do to get unstuck. As you do so you will hopefully be able to help others you love escape the hell of the Drama Triangle.
“There is a part of yourself that represents your outward strength and is associated with the frustration with money issues that come from a roller-coaster career as a director of photography. Your outward strength is polished and perfect in shape. This outward self is stable but fragile. It would like to be more stable so it would not feel so fragile. However, that stability does not and cannot get rid of the inherent fragility you feel in that perspective of your outward strength.
You have a big space inside that no one can see.  There are a lot of different options about what can be done with your space. That creates a perspective that feels dark and partitioned, with many options (doors and windows) but none of them really being used. There’s been passivity for “a long time, waiting for someone to come through a door to put you in a brighter” space. “I’m looking and waiting but no one seems to be coming.” This sounds like a victim waiting for a rescuer.
You are then asked to rescue yourself by shifting your consciousness wherever you want. You choose to move into light and openness (the window). Then you no longer feel dark. You experiment with various fixes: making your exterior more natural and beautiful, filling up your emptiness to generate greater stability. These “fixes” do not feel right or eliminate either your sense of emptiness, instability, or fragility. There is something inherent about your outward strength that requires the attention of others, but this does not solve your problem. You can improve this image in a way that lightens your world, but to do so does not eliminate that intrinsic feeling of emptiness, instability, or fragility.
Consequently, you have little confidence. There is a fear that you are hiding your essential fragility, living in fear that if everyone found out you were filled with nothing that you wouldn’t be as attractive and beautiful as you are appearing to be. Water does not fill the void. It keeps you stable and gives weight and makes it harder to  tip you over but this big space inside of you that no one can see is still empty. However, you have a lot of something like compassion because you understand and empathize with how people will try to move you but fail. You have the ability to defeat the attempts of any and all to move you.


You have a great deal of knowledge, based on many years of experience.  You know that the way you present yourself to the world is not for everyone. People will either love or hate your very particular image. You would like to change all that. You would like to be much less conspicuous, much less the object of attention. No longer so fragile, no longer the center of attention, yet still happy with your outer presentation. As such, you feel better, but there’s still something missing, but you don’t know what it is…
You are caught up in the drama in your exterior personality and image, but when you become an inconspicuous part of yourself that you hadn’t noticed before, you are out of drama, can witness everything and are much more confident.
Your financial issues are not worrisome from the perspective of this inconspicuous witnessing part of yourself. It is also recommended that you confront your intimacy issues instead of avoiding them. If you do, you won’t have any fear of commitment. It is also recommended that you address this issue of fragility. From shifting your focus from your public, exterior persona to this inconspicuous witnessing perspective you no longer have the issue of fragility or money. You are also much more versatile and adaptable. You are more aware of your need not for people to look at you but for light in your world.
As an object of the attention of others you are vulnerable and fragile; as you become more in touch with the smaller, inconspicuous, witnessing part of yourself you move outside of that drama. You are more objective. You are incognito, yet beautiful. You no longer feel you need to spend your life playing games.
This small, inconspicuous, witnessing part of you doesn’t care if you pay attention to it or not. You met it a long time ago. This is the first time you have made contact with it in a long time.
Know that a lot of things in your life are just for show; they aren’t so important. At the end of the day reduce, be small, see the circus that is surrounding your public life. You are more beautiful when you are small than the circus around your big, public life.”
Here is the interview that reading back was based on:

What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?


1 Financial

2 My inability to allow people to get close – an intimacy issue

3 Fear of commitment – Wasting my life with a failed relationship. Repeating the pain of a break up.


Which issue brings up the strongest feelings for you?

The  money issue.


What feelings does this issue bring up for you? 


Anger/frustration. Roller coaster.


If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?


Black and red.


 Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and aliveness.  


Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape, just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal? Object? Plant? What? 


Ming, highly polished vase in a room with lots of doors.


Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor?  It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are the shape that took form from your color and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind.  If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!


Ming Vase, look out at the world from your perspective and tell us what you see… 


I’m in a dark place with a lot of walls with windows. The room is separated with partitions. There are several doors behind them. 


Ming Vase, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?


I’ve been here for a long time waiting for someone to come through a door to put me in a brighter part of the room. I’m looking and waiting but no one seems to be coming.


Imagine Adam is coming in and putting you wherever you want…


Adam is putting me next to a huge window where a shaft of light is coming through.  I no longer feel dark; I feel red. 


Vase, what do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?


How polished I am on the outside. How perfect my shape is. My strengths are that it is very difficult to tip me over. I have a big space inside that  no one can see.  There are a lot of different options about what can be done with my space.


Do you have any preference about how your space could best be used?


Orchids that can take advantage of the sun. It’s great to have orchids in me but it’s still not right. I want to go back to being empty. But I’m still missing something. I want to be placed up higher. 


So be up wherever you want to be…


I am now up higher and the sun is hitting me. I am empty. I don’t feel like I need to have anything filling me up. Water would be interesting…It feels good. 


Ming Vase, what do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?


 After a couple of days the water will go off. I would  like the water to be replaced every couple of days by someone. 


Ming Vase, what aspect of Adam do you represent or most closely personify?


His outward strength. 


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


I’m very happy how I am. My polished exterior would have a pattern, like small little tiles. Shiny – gold, warm. It causes an amazing effect where the light is bouncing off me and the room is lit up by the reflections coming off me. 


(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

Vase, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities: confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing?  Why?


Confidence, 0-10. Why? 3 If everyone found out I was filled with nothing I wouldn’t be as attractive and beautiful as I am appearing to be. Water is kind of not filling the void. It keeps me stable. It gives me weight and stability and harder to  tip me over but this big space inside of me that no one can see is still empty.


Compassion, 0-10. Why? 9.5 People come in; they see this beautiful Ming Vase. They try to pick me up but they can’t. I know it isn’t going to work…


Wisdom, 0-10. Why?  10 I’m been around for 2000 years!


Acceptance, 0-10. Why? 5 Either you love or hate a Ming Vase. I would like to change. A small, non-Ming vase. One you put a daffodil in that is on a small table. But I’m still happy as a Ming Vase.


Inner Peace, 0-10. Why?  7 I feel better but there’s still something missing, but I don’t know what it is…


Witnessing, 0-10. Why?  3 as a Ming Vase; but as an inconspicuous little Vase, an 8. Being the Ming Vase you get caught up in everything. But as a small one I don’t need to witness but I can…            


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


I can’t comprehend!  


Vase, how would Adam’s life be different if he naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?


Just the same.


Vase, if you could live Adam’s life for him/her, how would you live it differently?


Confidence! From three to eight! 


(Character),if you could live _____’s waking life for him/her today, would you handle ____’s three life issues differently?  If so, how?


1 Financial


I would definitely as a Ming Vase with my wisdom and space be telling him to utilize the space that isn’t being used. Get rid of the water; fill me up with money! That’s Adam. I prefer to be solid with my water. It’s Adam’s issue. 


2 My inability to allow people to get close – an intimacy issue


Confront them. 


3 Fear of commitment – Wasting my life with a failed relationship. Repeating the pain of a break up.


It wouldn’t even be an issue if Adam were able to deal with point number two. There wouldn’t be any fear of commitment. 


Vase, what life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of Adam’s life?


1. The issue of fragility.

2. It’s very difficult to pick up and go somewhere else. Especially since I am filled with water. But as the small vase filled with a daffodil stability is not important and am much more mobile. 

3. If the sun didn’t shine anymore the room wouldn’t be as beautiful. If the sun isn’t shining… Keeping the sun shining. The daffodil also needs sun. 


Vase, in what life situations would it be most beneficial for Adam to imagine that he is you and act as you would? 


  To be the big vase for society; the small one stands to bring the most because it’s on the outside of that drama, objective, incognito. Still beautiful because of the daffodil. Everyone crowds around the Ming vase. The other one is more important. He should be it when the Ming vase is the center of attention. 


Vase, do you do drama?  If not, why not?


 Not that I’m aware of.


Vase, What is your secret for staying out of drama?


I don’t need to play games. The people who come to see me bring their own.


Vase, you are imaginary. Why should Adam pay attention to anything you say?


He shouldn’t. He doesn’t need to! I have been around for some long. I have knowledge based on 2,000 years of experience. 


Vase, why do you think that you are in Adam’s life? 


 I met Adam a long time ago. This is the first chance to come into contact with him again. He was too interested in the large vase. 


Vase, how is Adam most likely to ignore what you are saying to him?


He won’t. Why would you ignore something that makes sense?


Thank you, (Character!) Now here are a couple of questions for Adam: 


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


A lot of things are just for show; they aren’t so important. At the end of the day reduce, be the small vase, see the circus that is surrounding the large vase. You are more beautiful as the small vase than the circus around the big one.


Look back over the interview and list the specific recommendations that were made:



Every night before you go to sleep read over the recommendations. Score yourself 0-10 on how you did on each. 



Choose a partner. Exchange emails. Report no later than a week from today how you have done on applying your recommendations.

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