On March 18, 1958, the Trappist monk and mystic, Thomas Merton, had an experience that he described this way:
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.
“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed . . .I supposed the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. But this cannot be seen, only believed and “understood” by a peculiar gift.”
During my years of working in corporations as a consultant, I was always struck by the difference between the people who practiced competition versus cooperation. People who treated “the competition” as the enemy rather than as an ally, (and believed in “killing the competition”) were normally unhappy, angry, and frustrated. Those who cooperated with the so-called competition built valuable and lucrative partnerships and were able to expand their business–and these were the happy people! When you view “competitors” as potential allies all of your possibilities expand and your personal satisfaction and happiness can grow into something much more powerful than “crushing the competition.”
To express love has always been the enlightened, compassionate path no matter what area of life. Unfortunately, most of us have learned to compete rather than cooperate. The shift to cooperation is to take the road less traveled and it can make all the difference in our lives.