Once upon a time, in beautiful Hellas, there lived a villain called Procust. His dwelling was not far away from a crossroad, where all kinds of merchants used to kick about. At the sunset, Procust used to go out down the road and lure the travelers to spend the night at his place. He was making them feel welcome and offered them great food and cups of dizzily wine. The guests, fed up and feeling drowsy from the wine, wished to go to bed. Kindly, Procust was inviting them – after measuring them with his eyes – to the bedrooms where there were two copper beds: a large one and a short one. If the guest was solid, he was being offered the short bed; if the guest was chunky, he was being lured to the more generous bed. Eventually, before the guest started to snore, Procust would set to work. He was tying them down then he was killing them by putting them to torture: the short guy was stretched with ropes tied across the limbs until he was torn to pieces, the taller one would have his head or legs chopped off until the poor fellow passed away. The only thing Procust wished for was that his guests would match the size of his beds. The possessions of the unfortunate guy were a bonus for our felon. (Myth says that Theseus, finding out about the atrocities, paid a visit to Procust, pretended to eat and drink and when the villain, deceived by the appearances, tried to go on with his foul play, grabbed him and killed him the same way Procust had sent a lot of innocent people across the Styx river.)
Are we not tempted to act the same way in our day-to-day life? Don’t we “amputate” the thoughts, convictions, or the dreams and acts of the people around us so that they would match our inner filters or patterns? Or the other way around, don’t we “stretch” our fellow beings, sometimes unintentionally, sometimes deliberately, until we “align them with our standards”? Truth – as we see it – does not seem to be identical to the others’ – can you believe it? Even though we all say we see things the same way! The trouble is that in certain situations we do not conceive otherwise and, imperceptibly, a small adjustment ends grandiosely with a real mutilation! Is it not this kind of attitude that starts almost all the failures in our relationships? Is it not this “Procust-like” attitude that leads us to all interrelation disasters – that begin with “You don’t love me anymore! What’s going on with you?” or “My boss is totally ignorant, he is an idiot, next time I will tell it in his face!” up to the revolted baby-like attitude: “You are all stupid, I know better!”? What (or who) inside ourselves prepossesses us or even presses us to have such an attitude? Is it our ego, or could it be fear? We have or create expectations, and if they are not met – that hurts – “that is not fare!” Injustice urges us to create and implement self-obligations that lead to restricting our freedom that leads to the exacerbation of our ego that diversifies our fears; a vicious circle closes and makes us the satellites of our own misery.
A few thousands years later, in the heart of Arabia, in Baghdad, a bright caliph ruled over all the Arab tribes and the Islam. The fame of his wisdom encompassed the entire known world at that time. Impeccably organized, the Empire had reached its apogee. One day, as he wished to expand the horizon of his experience in the field of justice, the caliph decided to take the place of the Senior Judge. He sat on the seat where the Judge used to deal out justice and proceeded with the first trial of the day, calling on the suitor. The guy gave very detailed facts and sounded very convincing. “Well!” – said the caliph to himself – it’s as easy as a pie. Them he spoke loudly: “This man is right”! The public exulted: “What a clear judgment, what an intuition!” From the nearby seat the Senior Judge whispers humbly to the caliph: “Your Highness, you should listen to the other fellow, too…”. “Speak up, defendant!” – said the caliph with an imperative voice. The defendant found the power to shyly start his plead and he was applauded in the end by the audience. After some reflection, the caliph decided: “This man is right!” The public gets still! The whisper of the senior judge can be heard in the deep silence: “Your Highness, they can’t be both right!” Promptly and wisely, the caliph decrees: “You are right, too”!
Everything around us is, in fact, our individual perception. If we remain in the scientific or social justice areas we might find common denominators to this incredible diversity of perceptions, which help us set models, rules, norms, and the law. If we transcend in the spiritual level, the restrictions between just and unjust, even between right and wrong are no longer clear at is seems that a more tolerant attitude is advisable.
Naturally, we are caught between Procust and the Caliph of Baghdad. The Procust-type attitude is our current state, the state of the majority of people that are caught in the social “maelstrom”. The Caliph of Baghdad-type attitude comes out from the patterns of “normality” and draws us to transcendence. If we wish to shift from a type of approach to another, coaching may be the answer. What would it be like if we could break free from the “good-bad” paradigm”? What if we considered that anything “else” than our individual perspective would be neither better nor worse, but, in fact, only “different”?