This article is special to me, it is different from the rest of my articles. In it, I raise awareness for an important topic for me, which is interpersonal relations. How we think about people we don’t know, often unfairly judging based on prejudices we don’t understand ourselves.
For the purpose of completing the Psychology course, From my essay, I used some elements in a different structure. I decided to reuse and write this article. I consider this topic so important that I couldn’t help but share it with you on my blog. The subject of this article is an issue in Transpersonal Psychology.
My task was to choose a “TED talk” presented by a person in the field of psychology of my choice. I only found one presenter who appeared in the “TED talk” twice. Out of thousands of presenters, only Elizabeth Lesser is from the Transpersonal Psychologists community.
Transpersonal psychology fascinates me so much that I can’t imagine myself not choosing this field of psychology to write about. Currently, after completing a course in Psychology, I am looking for a university where I could get a diploma in Transpersonal Psychology.
The presenter of my choice is Elizabeth Lesser, the author of several best-selling books. She is the co-founder of the Omega Institute, recognized worldwide for its workshops and conferences on well-being, spirituality, creativity and social change. She has given two popular TED talks and is one of Oprah Winfrey’s “100 Super Souls”, a collection of one hundred leaders who use their voices and talents to take people to the next level. You can find out more about the presenter at the bottom of the article.
This article is about TED talk called “Take The Other to Lunch,” a call for civility and understanding as we negotiate our differences as human beings.
Elizabeth had her first “TED talk in” 2011, appearing at the same time as she received her honorary doctorate from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, so the topic of the talk comes as no surprise to me.
Elizabeth began her speech by making the audience aware that each of us has many personalities. She herself introduced her two guiding personalities who have been in conflict and conversation since she was a child. She called them a mystic and a warrior. Elizabeth was born into a family where there was a belief that if you were intelligent you couldn’t be interested in spirituality. But she was a child who wanted to talk about worlds that could exist beyond what we perceive with our senses.
Elizabeth walked the path of mysticism and tried to see beyond what Albert Einstein defined as the „optical delusion” of everyday consciousness.
She showed the audience how little they know. She showed in a simple example the level of our unconscious. Thinking that we breathe clean air, we are not aware that we are inhaling microbes. On the example of our ignorance of such simple matters. She asked about imagining what we still don’t know and can’t see, but it could exist.
Elizabeth said that she “always was attracted to those rare people who devote their lives to humanity with the grit of warrior and the grace of mystic”.
She named three people Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “ I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.” Then Mother Teresa another mystic warrior, said “The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.” And Nelson Mandela lives by the African concept of “ubuntu”, which means “ I need you in order to be me, and you need me in order to be you”, “I am because you are“.
The presenter said “We are capable to do their work now we need it. All of our cultures are demonizing the other. The worst eras in human history, whether in Cambodia or Germany or Rwanda they start like this with negative otherizing. And then they move into violent extremism. “
Elizabeth proposed a new initiative which she called Take “the other” to lunch. This initiative aims to help you communicate with each other. She gave many examples of whom we can invite to lunch. She told us what we should start with when we decide to meet a person belonging to a group about which we have a negative opinion.
The presenter recommended establishing the rules of conversation and presented what they might look like. The most important thing is not to convince your views, do not defend them. Don’t take the other person’s word for it. Be curious about the other person. Eager to talk, honest, and listen.
The presenter shared her experience of such a lunch with the activist on the right and Elizabeth, the activist on the left. The meeting was a challenge but it was successful thanks to the principles mentioned above applied by both parties during the meeting.
Thus, the two people took the first steps beyond their knee-jerk relationship and towards the “ubuntu” site. “The only place to find solutions to most of our seemingly unsolvable problems. Working on “ubuntu” is slow and tedious. These are two people who give up the pretence of being omniscient. They are two warriors who drop their weapons and reach out to each other.”
„ Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I will meet you there”. Rumi
With this quote, Elizabeth ended her speech. I am impressed with how much value she conveyed in less than 11 minutes of her speech. This Ted talk from 2011 to this date has 1,652,253 views at the time of writing this essay. They certainly made an impression on many, but I didn’t notice that anything had changed in the world.
The “ubuntu” mission is practised by many and yet it is still not enough. I myself belong to the online community Meditation Group on Facebook in Polish where “ubuntu” is our keynote.
Analyzing the Presenter’s speech, Is it possible that not everyone would guess that this speech is related to Transpersonal Psychology? The presenter clearly begins by emphasizing that a person has multiple personalities. Elizabeth introduces her two guiding personalities. However, II possibly failed to emphasize that the division into personalities characterizes Transpersonal Psychology.
Would like to expect to hear more about this. However, it is understandable that the time was limited and the amount of knowledge the presenter provided was considerable. On the other hand, it is a clever transfer of knowledge that is not clearly understandable to people who are not interested in the details of psychology. Planting seeds in minds who are not yet aware.
It was a pleasant surprise that the concept of “ubuntu” is related to Transpersonal Psychology in some way. This is the branch of psychology I am most interested in.
I have my own experience that living by the concept of “ubuntu” makes a person realize that they are part of a larger community and that their actions affect everyone. When a person fulfils their dream, it influences others and motivates others to take steps to fulfil their own dreams. You could call it social proof that something is possible.
“Ubuntu” shows that the individual person is not alone. We are all interconnected. Each person’s actions, whether good or bad, affect their family, their friends, and society. This philosophy makes you think twice about how our decisions today can negatively or positively affect others, just as the actions of others can affect us. This idea used consciously, inspired great changes in my life.
In my own search for answers to questions that Elizabeth failed to satisfy my check. I learned that Transpersonal Psychology is called the fourth force in psychology, it was created as a counterbalance to traditional trends in psychology. It explores the highest human potential, the spiritual needs of the individual and transcendental aspects of reality. It combines the traditional psychotherapeutic approach with tools of spiritual practice.
As a field, it was formally initiated with the publication of the first issue of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology in 1969. The first mention of the spiritual aspects of human nature, however, appeared in the early works of renowned psychologists Abraham Maslow, William James and Carl Jung.
What did I learn from the presenter’s speech?
In less than 11 minutes, you can convey a lot of valuable knowledge, inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and really invite someone for lunch from the last place on your list of people you would like to spend time with. And it’s all because of prejudices, sometimes not your own personal ones, but those of your immediate surroundings.
I believe that this “Ted Talk” will have even more views and will inspire more people to such an act as inviting someone for dinner/coffee. Elizabeth Lesser is the only one from the Transpersonal Psychology community to have appeared on Ted Talk and has only made two appearances. I had no choice among the presenters. But I think that’s how it was meant to be. From now on, I will follow in her footsteps, although I will follow my own path, and who knows, maybe I will be the next presenter of a “TED talk” from the Transpersonal Psychology community.
The guidelines of the principle given by Elizabeth are applicable in many areas of life and I will certainly use them both in the work of a life coach and in contact with newly met people.
The most important thing is not to convince your views, do not defend them. Don’t take the other person’s word for it. Be curious about the other person. Eager to talk, honest, and listen.
I am fascinated by the work that Elizabeth Lesser does.
Learn more about Elizabeth Lesser here.
ELIZABETH LESSER is a bestselling author and the cofounder of Omega Institute, the renowned conference and retreat centre located in Rhinebeck, New York. Elizabeth’s first book, The Seeker’s Guide, chronicles her years at Omega and distils lessons learned into a potent guide for growth and healing. Her New York Times bestselling book, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, has sold almost 500,000 copies and has been translated into 20 languages. Her third book, Marrow: Love, Loss & What Matters Most, chronicles the journey Elizabeth and her younger sister went through when Elizabeth was the donor for her sister’s bone marrow transplant. Her newest book Cassandra Speaks: When Women are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes reveals how humanity has outgrown its origin tales and hero myths, and empowers women to trust their instincts, find their voice, and tell new guiding stories.
Elizabeth co-founded Omega Institute in 1977—a time when a variety of fresh ideas were sprouting in American culture. Since then, the institute has been at the forefront of holistic education, offering workshops and training in integrative medicine, prevention, nutrition, and the mind/body connection; meditation and yoga; cross-cultural arts and creativity; ecumenical spirituality; and social change movements like women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability. Elizabeth is also the cofounder of Omega’s Women’s Leadership Center, which grew out of the popular Women & Power conference series featuring women leaders, activists, authors and artists from around the world. Each year close to 30,000 people participate in Omega’s programs on its campus in Rhinebeck, New York and at urban and travel sites, and more than a million people visit its website for online learning.
A student of the Sufi master, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan for many years, Elizabeth has also studied with spiritual teachers, healers, psychologists, and philosophers from other traditions. In 2008 she helped Oprah Winfrey produce a ten-week online seminar based on Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth. The webinar has been viewed by over 40 million people worldwide. She was a guest on the Oprah Show, a frequent host on Oprah’s Soul Series, a weekly radio show on Sirius/XM, and is one of the Super Soul 100, a collection of a hundred leaders who are using their voices and talent to elevate humanity.
In 2011, she gave a popular TED talk called “Take The Other to Lunch,” a call for civility and understanding as we negotiate our differences as human beings. She gave her second TED talk in 2016, about the power of truth-telling.
Elizabeth attended Barnard College, where she studied literature, and San Francisco State University, where she received a teaching degree. In 2011 she received an honorary doctorate from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, in Palo Alto, California. Early in her career, she was a midwife and birth educator.
This article is inspired by all this below:
Martin Luther King, Jr.