Deepak Chopra:Is spirituality important in the process of Nonviolent Communication?
Marshall B. Rosenberg: I think it is important that people see that spirituality is at the base of Nonviolent Communication, and that they learn the mechanics; of the process with that in mind. It's really a spiritual practice that I am trying to show as a way of life. Even though we don't mention this, people get seduced by the practice. Even if they practice this as a mechanical technique, they start to experience; things between themselves and other people they weren't able to experience before. So eventually they come to the spirituality of the process. They begin to see that it's more than a communication process and realize it's really an attempt to manifest a certain spirituality. So I have tried to integrate the spirituality into the training in a way that meets my need not to destroy the beauty of it through abstract philosophizing.
DC: What does God mean to you?
MBR:I need a way to think of God that would work for me, other words or ways to look at this beauty, this powerful energy, and so my name for God is "Beloved Divine Energy". For a while it was just Divine Energy but then I was reading some of the Eastern religions, and Eastern poets, and I loved how they had this personal, loving connection with this Energy. And I found that it added to me to call it Beloved Divine Energy. To me this Beloved Divine Energy is life, connection to life.
DC: What is your favorite way of knowing Beloved Divine Energy?
MBR: It is how I connect with human beings. I know Beloved Divine Energy by connecting with human beings in a certain way. I not only see Divine Energy, I taste Divine Energy, I feel Divine Energy, and I am Divine Energy. I'm connected with Beloved Divine Energy when I connect with human beings in this certain way. Then God is very alive for me. Also talking with trees, talking with dogs and pigs, those are some of my other favorite ways.
DC: How did you develop Nonviolent Communication?
MBR: Nonviolent Communication evolved from my attempt to get conscious of what this Beloved Divine Energy is and how to connect with it. I was very dissatisfied with clinical psychology because it is pathology based and I didn't like its language. It didn't give me a view of the beauty of human beings. So, after I got my degree I decided to go more in the direction of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.
I decided to look at this side and ask myself the scary question, "What are we and what are we meant to be?" I found that there was very little written about this in psychology. So I took a crash course in comparative religion because I saw they talked more about this question. And this word "love" kept coming up in each of them.
I used to hear the word love as many people use it in a religious sense like, "You should love everybody." I used to get really annoyed at the word love. "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to love Hitler?" I didn't know the words "New Age Bullshit" but I used what was my equivalent then. I tried to understand better what love means because I could see it had so much meaning for so many millions of people in all of these religions.
DC:What is it, and how do you do this "love"?
MBR: Nonviolent Communication really came out of my attempt to understand this concept of love and how to manifest it, how to do it. I came to the conclusion that it was not just something you feel, but it is something we manifest, something we do, something we have. And what is this manifestation? It is giving of ourselves in a certain way.
DC: What do you mean, "giving of ourselves"?
MBR: To me, giving of ourselves means an honest expression of what's alive in us in this moment. It intrigues me why every culture asks upon greeting each other, "How are you?" It's such an important question. What a gift it is to be able to know at any given moment what is alive in someone.
To give a gift of one's self is a manifestation of love. It is when you reveal yourself nakedly and honestly, at any given moment, for no other purpose than as a gift of what's alive in you. Not to blame, criticize, or punish. Just "Here I am, and here is what I would like." This is my vulnerability at this moment. To me, that is a way of manifesting love.
And the other way we give of ourselves is through how we receive another person's message. To receive it empathically, connecting with what's alive in them, making no judgment. Just to hear what is alive in the other person and what they would like. So Nonviolent Communication is just a manifestation of what I understand love to be.
DC:Nonviolent Communication came out of your desire to manifest love?
I was also helped by empirical research in psychology that defined the characteristics of healthy relationships and by studying people who were living manifestations of loving people. Out of these sources I pulled together this process that helped me to connect with people in what I could understand is a loving way.
And then I saw what happened when I did connect with people in this way. This beauty, this power, connected me with an energy that I choose to call Beloved Divine Energy. So Nonviolent Communication helps me stay connected with that beautiful Divine Energy within myself and to connect with it in others. And certainly when I connect that Divine Energy within myself with the Divine Energy in others, what happens then is the closest I know of what it is to be connected to God.
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