By “sin of omission” I mean refraining from doing a FIML query because you feel it will be too much trouble, seem contentious, take too long, expose a failing or weakness in yourself, hurt your partner’s feelings, and so on.
Some time ago we came up with the slogan: “It is always cheaper to do a FIML query than not do one.” This slogan is meant to help us guard against “sins of omission.”
If you refrain from saying something because you are afraid it will cause one of the problems mentioned above, you are right there causing a worse kind of problem in that you are assuming something about your partner that may not be (probably isn’t) true.
Even worse, you are refraining from informing your partner that you have concluded that some kinds of speech acts are not safe or pleasant to engage in with them.
It would be far, far cheaper for both you and your partner to deal with whatever you think the problem is the moment it arises.
This is so because small matters are much easier for us to understand and deal with than large matters. When we deal with small matters as they arise in normal conversation,we are doing at least two very important things: 1) we are dealing with the matter and its ramifications and 2) we are learning something very important about how we speak.
FIML changes the way we think not just what we think. If we fully understand that our understandings of each other can be very far off and if we fully understand how serious these misunderstandings can become, we no longer will see discussing minor mix-ups as a waste of time or something to be avoided.
I saw a post the other day by a beginning Buddhist who was confused about his mindfulness practice. He asked: “Every time I try to be mindful, my mind seems to fill with thoughts, words, and feelings. How do I stop that?”
Mindfulness is about being clear about what your mind is really doing. It’s not about pretending you have an ideal mind, or acting as if you do. If that Buddhist has a partner and if they both do FIML, they will experience the value of mindfulness in a very direct and beneficial way.
Human languages have evolved within violent hierarchical social systems that exploit our normally poor abilities to understand each other.
FIML practice allows us to be mindful of these limitations and go beyond them to achieve real understanding with our partner. The deep reward of FIML practice lies in that and in the profound feeling of resolution you will reach with your partner each and every time you carry a FIML discussion through to a mutually satisfying resolution.
first posted JUNE 15, 2012