Why generalities don’t work

You cannot achieve satisfying communication by using general ideas or general role models.

For example, many Buddhists use a general sense of “compassion” or a vague understanding of “Buddhist wisdom” to get along with other people. This strategy can work for light duties at a Buddhist temple or for projecting a basic sense of who you are to other people, but it won’t be deeply satisfying.

The problem is very simple to state but harder to fix. The problem is we misunderstand each other very often and in very significant ways and these misunderstandings cannot be simply smoothed over with generalities.

Humans are deeply affected by their interactions with other humans. All those little mistakes in speaking and listening lead to big misunderstandings in our relationships, often rather quickly.

I cannot think of another way to deal with this fundamental problem except through FIML practice or something very much like it. When we communicate with people we care about, we have to have ways to restate our meaning, take it back, query each other, probe relevant semiotics. If we don’t, we will misunderstand each other in serious ways.


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