By Judi Neal, Founder, Edgewalkers International
One of the most quoted phrases from Rumi’s poetry is this:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
Edgewalkers understand this and are bridge builders because of it. They build bridges between disciplines, between cultures, and between the physical and non-physical world. They are tuned into the field of unitary or non-dual consciousness that is “out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing.” Edgewalkers sense the underlying patterns, connections and relationships and feel called to help others see them too.
Mari Ishihara was in the first MBA course I taught at the University of New Haven, and she was an amazing student. We later became friends and I was fortunate to travel with her to Japan several times and to stay with her family. Her mother became “Oka-san” (honored mother) to me. After graduation, Mari went to work in New York City for a large financial institution based in Japan. Two years later they asked her to transfer back to Japan and work in the home office. That turned out to be a painful move for her at first. She found that she had become too Americanized to fit into the more formal, hierarchical and rigid structure of the home office, a place that basically expected female employees to serve tea. She returned to the U.S. to work for another company in New York, and this time her experience was more positive because she was now valued as a bridge builder. She could help the American leaders in the company understand and connect to Japanese companies. At the same time, Japanese clients trusted and valued her as someone who could understand their culture and their business needs.
In these polarized times, we need bridge builders more than ever. We need leaders who can rise above differences and see the shared humanity. We need leaders who can inspire people to work together towards a unifying vision, one that serves the greater good. Van Jones, a CNN contributor, is one of the most powerful bridge building voices in the U.S. In his book, Beyond the Messy Truth, he offers a blueprint for nine different national issues that can unite the political right and the left. One of those was prison reform, and Jones was instrumental in passing the FIRST STEP Act – a bipartisan federal bill that is considered the most substantial breakthrough in criminal justice in a generation.
Edgewalkers who are bridge builders generally have some kind of contemplative practice that supports them in seeing the interconnectedness in the world. That could be anything from mindfulness practices to spending time in nature to engaging in artistic expression. Besides inner work, they put energy into outer work, so they build a bridge between self and the world. They are committed to making a positive difference in their neighborhoods, communities, companies, or countries. They keep informed about trends and events related to the things they care about. And they get involved.
In your own practice, consider what worlds you walk between and the way you build bridges between these worlds. (See our previous blog on “Walking Between Worlds” by Patricia Campanile). When things seem polarized, how well do you look for commonalities? How much are you able to see the underlying Oneness, and how does that impact your effectiveness?
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. Rumi
We’d love to hear your thoughts and your bridge building stories in the Comments below.