Listening with the EAR

Perhaps like many of you, I grew up in a family that could have benefited from having an EAR Council to hear grievances, but did not. Our InsightLA family is fortunate to have a group of elders dedicated to listening with empathy and compassion, as we do our best to address grievances, facilitate healing, and learn from our mistakes and each other. This is one way we sort through the muddle of being human. Wherever there are human beings there will be conflict. The mechanism at InsightLA for dealing with conflicts within our community is the EAR (Ethics and Reconciliation) Council. As Chair of the EAR Council, I’d like to tell you about it.

Born of a tradition that goes back to the days of the Buddha, we are a listening body, with at least one representative each of teachers, staff, Board and community members. Our mandate is to listen deeply, with the idea of facilitating healing, reconciliation or restorative justice. Sometimes there is a need for amends, or acknowledgment of harm done, sometimes a recognition of the need for change. The outcome varies with each instance, but our aim always is to do what’s best for everyone, not to judge. Our job is to see how we can learn from each situation together, so that we grow in our capacity to be an ever more equitable and compassionate community. At InsightLA, everyone has an equal opportunity to have their voice heard.

Being the Chair of the EAR Council has been confounding at times, but also a joy and a privilege. Each of us on the Council is a volunteer, with distinct and unique skills and perspectives; we work collaboratively to arrive at consensus. An important goal of mindfulness is to enable people to be with difficult situations without reacting in ways that make things worse. Insight meditation has taught me to respond with more patience, caring and balance. This is a fruit of practice: the ability to be with what’s difficult without turning away. 

Part of being human is that even those of us committed to doing no harm still manage to step on each other’s toes, hurt each other’s feelings, and do things that have an impact that’s not always aligned with intention. The health of a community is not measured by whether or not conflicts arise, but how they are dealt with. The EAR Council brings to awareness the poignance of this human condition. It is based on a recognition of the truth of our interdependence and what all beings have in common: wanting to be happy and free from suffering. May we all find happiness and the causes of happiness!

You can find out more about us and how to contact us here:  insightla.org/ethics-and-reconciliation

We are available to anyone within the community.

Diana Gould,

Teacher & Chair of the EAR Council