What can we learn from Quakerism?

Returning home after a wonderful time in Edinburgh with my friend Steven Shorrock.

Steve offered to write the foreword for my forthcoming book. What touched me the most in his foreword was the comparison Steve saw between Quakerism and my own faith (Hinduism).

We met at the Quaker Meeting House in Edinburgh to discuss my book and Steve asked some beautiful open-ended questions like so few would.

I have been fascinated by the beliefs of Quakerism and how Quakers conduct meetings.

Patience, waiting, non-hierarchical organising, space, stillness, presence and silence are at the centre of the Quakers meetings. Within the rooms, there is very little, if any, signs or instructions to tell people what they should (or should not) do.

Having attended a Quaker meeting in Aberdeen before, I have noticed how the meeting is conducted. Occasionally, someone would get up, say a few words and then sit back again. There is no competition, no rush, no selling of ideas, and no need to prove anything to anyone.  People are encouraged to speak their heart and there is no judgment to follow once people have spoken.

Now take this notion of meeting in organisations and compare with how we ‘meet’ people. A constant noise, telling and selling, deadlines, rush, the urge to outsmart the others – people come out of the meeting more worn out and sometimes not even knowing what the purpose of the meeting was.

Quakers teach us how to meet with people and to me, all life and learning is in meeting people.

We ended up in a pub ‘World’s end’ symbolising how the boundaries we create set the limits of our imagination. Imagination is very unique to us humans and for many of us, fear forms the basis for all imagining. We are so trapped in our fears and our senses do a great job to fulfil what our fear driven instincts feed us for our survival. And so, imagination remains locked forever and there is little learning. A powerful message!

An added bonus on the way back was to meet up with my other friend James Burnell.

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