quibbling facts or digesting truth: my path of the amoeba

Posted on April 1, 2017


If a person says that my statement is judgmental, isn’t THAT being judgmental? Am I being judgmental by asking this question???

Why do we so often judge others and their ideas? What do we fear? Why do we need to set things straight right then and right there?

What is true anyway? Well, it depends on each person’s perspective. 10 people can see the same situation and come away with 10 different descriptions of that same situation.

But on the other hand, does truth need to be “defended”? Why? Can it not stand on its own? Usually we “defend” the weak and vulnerable from being hurt or destroyed? Is that what we think about truth? If we do not defend it, then it will melt away or become a victim of an overpowering idea?

What is the source of our constant argumentation? Why do we cut ourselves short of understanding another? What do we fear? Being wrong? Not being right?

We spend our lives quibbling facts and disputing words without bothering to understand what it is we are disputing and quibbling about.

Do we even want to understand another? Are we afraid of their difference? Are we afraid of our own ideas crumbling or melting away?

Understanding requires the effort and the intention to understand.

Understanding requires the effort and the intention of listening.

Why is it so hard to listen?

We cannot listen

    • Over our chattering mind
    • Over our need to be right
    • If we are busy formulating our response
    • If we already think we know what the person is going to say
    • If we judge the person’s words and ideas
  • If we are busy labeling right or wrong

Did you know that listening requires that we

    • Be quiet, inside and out?
    • Open our minds to new ideas?
    • Open our minds to differences?
    • Be not afraid of that which is different?
    • Be not afraid of that which opposes our ideas?
  • That we open our heart and will to love because perfect love casts out fear.

A friend* once accused me, in a complementary way, of being an amoeba. What? Iamoeba said.

She said that I just take in ideas, perspectives, differences, and opposing ‘truths’. That’s it. I just take them all in. Period… No judgment. No criticism. And only clarifying questions. She said that I then simply expand to hold them within.

(Some of this way of being grew out of Circles of Trust that I have experienced where the primary guideline for communication is “no fixing, no saving, no advising, and no setting each other straight.”

What IS this amoeba thing within me?

And why is it something that I can no longer not do???

I have been observing this amoeba type digestion of truth within myself for eight years. But this is first time I’ve tried to put it in words. I think in order to truly seek understanding this is something I must do. And in order to do this, I have to be intentional about getting my ego out of the way. I have to be open to understanding all things, without exception, without reaction, without labeling, without judgment. Of course, there are some alternate ‘truths’ that we need to reject. But if we are busy judging, how can we know what is real and what is not? We haven’t taken time for reflection and contemplation.

I think that this amoeba thing is a way I have learned to value and seek understanding. Unless I am fearlessly open to new and different ideas, I can never truly understand anyone or anything.

Often the deepest and most profound truths or ideas strike us initially as falsehood because it is beyond anything we’ve allowed ourselves to think or feel or understand. It is outside our ‘bubble’. And anything outside our bubble of experience is something we must avoid at all costs because we fear that which we don’t understand. We fear difference and gravitate so easily and comfortably to the familiar. (see The Bubble of Indifference: https://ronirvine.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/the-bubble-of-indifference/)

As I try to verbalize this, I think what I do is to just take things in and sit with them. I’m sort of digesting truth knowing that what is real will nourish me and what is not true will  eventually become evident and all learning beginswork its way from through my digestive system as something that does not nourish and becomes waste that is left behind. For me, this seems to be a very natural process. It is also very fulfilling because it is a way of living out my core values and primal intentions which require me to constantly seek understanding in all things, with all people, in every way possible.

I’ve lived half a century with a mind of constant judgment. I’m weary of this. I am determined to unlearn this in all things, with all people, in every way possible.

May I live up to my words.

With an open mind, and open heart, and an open will,

may my soul, and role become one.

May I learn to live with integrity and authenticity.

For me, it is of utmost importance to seek understanding, especially from those that are the most different from me. Familiar truth is comfortable and hence can become subtly destructive because it tends to morph as we recreate it in our own image, following our gods of comfort, security, and certainty; thereby corrupting it through familiarity. Therefore we must vigilantly challenge and question our “truths” lest they become mere assumptions and opinions. In the same way, water becomes stagnant unless it has an outside source of fresh water.

Familiarity is our blind spot. We can’t “See” the things we are familiar with; like the way we treat people, the beauty of nature, or the expressiveness of the human face. Unless we “silence the familiar and welcome the strange”, we will not begin to “See” (Sam Keen). Our blind spot will remain blind to us. Remember, there is a difference between “seeing” and “Seeing”, just like there is a difference between just hearing and really listening.  

“Familiarity is one of the most subtle and pervasive forms of human alienation.” — John O’Donohue


“The really serious innovation comes not from the middle of the mainstream but from outliers” (Harvard Business Journal) “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking with which we created them” (Albert Einstein)

The greatest truths, the greatest lessons, and the most life-changing stories for me comes from the outliers. When we disregard people, especially those that society has already made invisible, we are foregoing perspectives that bring us the greatest blessings of our lives.

We must learn to listen. We must seek understanding, especially from the outliers; the marginalized and the outcasts, the invisible and the unheard, the weak and the vulnerable, the meek and the disabled, the poor and the downtrodden, the orphans and the widows, the strangers and the refugees, the battered and bruised, the tattered and torn…

… the “least of these”.

We must become a “friend of sinners”

“I believe that those we most often exclude from the normal life of society, people with disabilities, have profound lessons to teach us. When we do include them, they add richly to our lives and add immensely to our world.” (Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, p. 45)


[kwibuh l]


    1. an instance of the use of ambiguous, prevaricating, or irrelevant language or arguments to evade a point at issue.
  1. petty or carping criticism; a minor objection.

“In order to observe the movement of your own mind and heart, of your whole being, you must have a free mind, not a mind that agrees and disagrees, taking sides in an argument, disputing over mere words, but rather following with an intention to understand – a very difficult thing to do because most of us don’t know how to look at, or listen to, our own being any more than we know how to look at the beauty of a river or listen to the breeze among the trees.

“When we condemn or justify we cannot see clearly, nor can we when our minds are endlessly chattering; then we do not observe what is, we look only at the projections we have made of ourselves. Each of us has an image of what we think we are or what we should be, and that image, that picture, entirely prevents us from seeing ourselves as we actually are.

“It is one of the most difficult things in the world to look at anything simply. Because our minds are very complex we have lost the quality of simplicity. I don’t mean simplicity in clothes or food, wearing only a loin cloth or breaking a record fasting or any of that immature nonsense the saints cultivate, but the simplicity that can look directly at things without fear – that can look at ourselves as we actually are without any distortion – to say when we lie we lie, not cover it up or run away from it.” (Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, p. 15)

*Thanks to Kay LaPierre for planting that word “amoeba” within me many years ago.