“When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life. Nobody can even have an argument with you, no matter how hard he or she tries. You cannot have an argument with a fully conscious person. An argument implies identification with your mind and a mental position, as well as resistance and reaction to the other person’s position. The result is that the polar opposites become mutually energized. These are the mechanics of unconsciousness. You can still make your point clearly and firmly, but there will be no reactive force behind it, no defense or attack. So it won’t turn into drama. When you are fully conscious, you cease to be in conflict.” – The End of Your Life Drama, Chapter 9. Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness There Is Peace, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle, 1999), p151
“For me, there is really only one big choice to make in life: Are you willing to fight to find out what’s true? Do you deeply believe that finding out what is true is essential to your well-being? Do you have a genuine need to find out if you or others are doing something wrong that is standing in the way of achieving your goals?” – Ray Dalio (Dalio p202)
So far, we have discussed a few topics of importance highlighted in Dalio’s Life and Work Principles as below (with the aid of spiritual understanding on our mind shared by Eckhart Tolle (Series )):
- The importance of higher perspective, hence the need of ultimate humility coming from the recognition that we are just one tiny part of the whole that is evolving under the permanent universal law. (Series )
- Two layers of consciousness of our mind that is working for our benefit in higher level and to our detriment in unconscious lower level. How traits of the mind-identified egoic state of consciousness that the majority of us are currently residing in our age are manifested as a typical character trait in a negative sense. (Series )
- How our subliminal defense mechanism is played out in the form of fear and What are the two types of typical obstacles we have to understand and get over to live our best potential. (Series )
- Why our harmful emotions that arise out of unconscious reaction to our thoughts can be perilous in reaching the best decision-making and Why our emotions are not ourselves but a passing phenomena. How we can recognize them to control ourselves. (Series )
- How and Why our creativity is closely related with our mental quietude that consequently enables us to reach higher level of consciousness and How practices such as meditation help us to harness our mind for several powerful outcomes, which is our ultimate interest. (Series )
To be sure, we now know what our barriers are. These are what we need to work on for our personal evolution, which, I ponder, Dalio aims to hear from us through fierce questions he posed as above.
He daringly states that if our answer to any of these questions is no, we’d better accept that we will never live up to our potential.
According to him, upon knowing how our lower-level consciousness – or defense mechanisms -, which are not us, functions, building our ability to rely solely on higher-level consciousness to find out what’s true and to make decisions (without being obstructed by lower-level yous) is of utmost importance.
Hence, being ‘radically’ open-minded. This state requires a complete eradication of being played out by lower-level yous in every endeavor.
I believe, for an average human being with average level of consciousness, reaching this state is as hard and challenging as reaching to be completely and fully conscious in Tolle’s terms.
But the reward will be huge and immeasurable: We become the best version fully maximizing our potentials because we are getting rid of the biggest obstacle that stands in our way of growth. Growth is our evolution. Isn’t this the ultimate reason of our existence here on earth? If this is not for us, what is?
“You can still make your point clearly and firmly, but there will be no reactive force behind it, no defense or attack.” – Eckhart Tolle (Tolle p151)
This is what happens as a result of being radically open-minded, according to Dalio. This is who we become at the ultimate level. In my opinion, practicing radical open-mindedness corresponds to practicing mindfulness to become a fully conscious person – enlightened and awakened – in Tolle’s terms. It appears they are describing the same state using simply a different language – one of business, the other of spirituality.
We have in fact briefly had a glimpse of the notion of radical open-mindedness in the early part of the series. (Series [Intro]) Given its ultimate importance, however, I would like to look into Dalio’s concept of ‘Radical Open-Mindedness’ and of ‘Thoughtful Disagreement’ a little bit further as our last reminder.
- Definition of Radical Open-Mindedness
- Definition of Thoughtful Disagreement: Only Higher Level Yous Trying to Get the Truth
- Difficulty in Reality
- Being Open-Minded Is Not Losing Assertiveness
- Closing: A Fully Conscious Person
Definition of Radical Open-Mindedness
Dalio defines radical open-mindedness as ‘the ability to effectively explore different points of view and different possibilities without letting your ego or your blind spots get in your way.’
His aim is clear: To make sure one’s upper-level you sees and considers all the good choices and to make the best possible decisions. The end result is we deal with our realities more effectively and radically improve our life.
If you can recall Tolle’s messages from Dalio’s descriptions below, I believe you’ve done a great job in a spiritual sense! In radical open-mindedness, there’s no room for our egoic mind and accompanying emotional pain that pretend to be our true self to exist.
“Radical open-mindedness is motivated by the genuine worry that you might not be seeing your choices optimally. It is the ability to effectively explore different points of view and different possibilities without letting your ego or your blind spots get in your way. It requires you to replace your attachment to always being right with the joy of learning what’s true. Radical open-mindedness allows you to escape from the control of your lower-level you and ensures your upper-level you sees and considers all the good choices and makes the best possible decisions. If you acquire this ability – and with practice you can – you’ll be able to deal with your realities more effectively and radically improve your life.” – 3.2. Practice Radical Open-Mindedness, Chapter 3. Be Radically Open-Minded, Part II. Life Principles, PRINCIPLES (Ray Dalio 2017), p188
How can we reach a best decision making with the best insight available without conflicts? If my opinion differs from my counterpart, does it mean one is wrong? Does being wrong mean being lost? Or death of one’s self?
We know these are simply tricks of our vulnerable egoic mind that identifies our self with external manifestations such as judgment, opinion or value to name a few examples. At a fully conscious level, this kind of being wrong doesn’t really affect our reality. We know what only matters is what’s true.
Definition of Thoughtful Disagreement: Only Higher Level Yous Trying to Get the Truth
Dalio encourages to have exchanges in which we really see what the other person is seeing and they really see what we are seeing – with both our “higher-level yous” trying to get the truth. He states that these exchanges done by a thoughtful disagreement ‘are immensely helpful and a giant source of untapped potential.’
“When two people believe opposite things, chances are that one of them is wrong. It pays to find out if that someone is you. That’s why I believe you must appreciate and develop the art of thoughtful disagreement. In thoughtful disagreement, your goal is not to convince the other party that you are right – it is to find out which view is true and decide what to do about it. In thoughtful disagreement, both parties are motivated by the genuine fear of missing important perspectives. Exchanges in which you really see what the other person is seeing and they really see what you are seeing – with both your “higher-level yous” trying to get the truth – are immensely helpful and a giant source of untapped potential.” – 3.3. Appreciate the Art of Thoughtful Disagreement, Chapter 3. Be Radically Open-Minded, Part II. Life Principles, PRINCIPLES (Ray Dalio 2017), p191
Difficulty in Reality
And we know this thoughtful disagreement doesn’t come easy. Because we are way too accustomed our way of thinking led by our mind-identified ego. It needs awareness and practice. And most importantly, everybody concerned has to stand on the same ground – the same level of consciousness. If they are not, it’s easy to imagine one will be triggered mistaking disagreement as a threat.
Hence, the importance of art of having exchanges in ways that don’t trigger reactions.
“Why doesn’t thoughtful disagreement like this typically occur? Because most people are instinctively reluctant to disagree. … The reluctance to disagree is the “lower-level you’s” mistaken interpretation of disagreement as conflict. That’s why radical open-mindedness isn’t easy: You need to teach yourself the art of having exchanges in ways that don’t trigger such reactions in yourself or others. This was what I had to learn back when Bob, Gigelle, and Dan told me I made people feel belittled. Holding wrong opinions in one’s head and making bad decisions based on them instead of having thoughtful disagreements is one of the greatest tragedies of mankind. Being able to thoughtfully disagree would so easily lead to radically improved decision making in all areas – public policy, medicine, science, philanthropy, personal relationships, and more.” – 3.3. Appreciate the Art of Thoughtful Disagreement, Chapter 3. Be Radically Open-Minded, Part II. Life Principles, PRINCIPLES (Ray Dalio 2017), p192
Being Open-minded Is Not Losing Assertiveness
As long as we and our lives are driven by our mind-identified egoic state, we are our opinion, judgment, and every outward label our mind attaches to. There will be pain accordingly if our judgment fails or if any external form our mind identifies with fails. Also, if this continues, at one point of our life, we may experience something in the form of crash by which we have to surrender and become humble after all.
I believe what drove Dalio to fiercely seek truth more than anything else in his life and business was this realization. And once this becomes your way of life, you cannot imagine yourself to be and live otherwise.
Metamorphosis that comes from overcoming life’s challenges is something that makes us feel serene. Tolle stated about the notion of ‘Die before death.’ Without realizing this death of our egoic state, our living in full potential may be remote.
“The truth is that while most people can become radically open-minded, some can’t, even after they have repeatedly encountered lots of pain from betting that they were right when they were not. People who don’t learn radical open-mindedness don’t experience the metamorphosis that allows them to do much better. I myself had to have that humility beaten into me by my crashes, especially my big one in 1982. Gaining open-mindedness doesn’t mean losing assertiveness. In fact, because it increases one’s odds of being right, it should increase one’s confidence. That has been true for me since my big crash, which is why I’ve been able to have more success with less risk. /Becoming truly open-minded takes time. Like all real learning, doing this is largely a matter of habit; once you do it so many times it is almost instinctive, you’ll find it intolerable to be any other way. As noted earlier, this typically takes about eighteen months, which in the course of a lifetime is nothing. – 3.6. Understand how you can become radically open-minded, Chapter 3. Be Radically Open-Minded, Part II. Life Principles, PRINCIPLES (Ray Dalio 2017), p201-2
Closing: A Fully Conscious Person
Once you experience metamorphosis via death of our egoic mind, you cannot live otherwise. Consciousness at higher level cannot go back to the lower state. It’s similar to a concept that higher energy cannot be reduced to a lower level: An illumination of light into the dark, converts the darkness into light.
Living at a higher level of consciousness functions the same way. Carl Jung’s famous quote well reminds us of this. Only higher level of consciousness can observe the lower level of consciousness and transform it. Reality transcends.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung
Tolle said, we cannot have an argument with a fully conscious person. Mechanics of unconsciousness disappear. In this higher state, conflicts cease to exist because there’s no room for our mind-identified egoic state to play tricks and hence no emotional reactions energetically charged by it.
Only in this state can we still make our point clearly and firmly, without reactive force behind it, no defense or attack. This is who we become and what Dalio suggests us to become: Be a person of radical open-mindedness.
Are you up for this challenge? Are you ready for metamorphosis? And ready for a journey that will make you ascend higher and higher, practice by practice?