“A special monastery where they had two abbots seats, one occupied by the actual abbot, and the other always empty. New monks that came to the monastery grew curious as to why it was empty, and after some time, they would ask. In fact the second teacher of the monastery was an important entity that had there for a longer time than any other monk. The third seat was reserved for the relationship between all of the monks and practitioners of the monastery.”
When you sit down to drink coffee with someone, there are usually two chairs. One for you, and one for the other person. Really, there is you, there is me, and the relationship born between us. There is my self concerns, and your self concerns. There is my wishes as to how you see me, and you have these wishes too. In addition, there is something invisible, which is why the seat is empty. The relationship between us has its own needs, requirements that are different from the two individuals. We don’t often think about the relationship formed. We look at ourselves, we look at the other person, but not the relationship itself.
I openly invited some strangers to have coffee with me and our relationship, regardless of if we had one to date. Just like everyone has self interests, desires, and needs, there is a third entity that needs to be nurtured. That is, the relationship between us. When we recognize that we not only need to care for ourselves and those close to us, that we need to care for the relationships we build with others, we begin to treat ourselves and others with more respect. We begin to listen with the intent to understand rather than to reply. We begin to make stronger relationships, one where there are three parties, not two.