Cultivating Awareness [7 of 10]
Cultivating Trustworthiness [9 of 10]
5. Cultivating Legitimacy
Legitimacy is being able to embrace things as they are and to acknowledge the truth of multiple perspectives. Legitimacy reflects a commitment to truth, not the right/ wrong truth of ideologies and principles, but a commitment to the ‘truth (that) is found in life… within and around us in every moment”.
Cultivating the capacity for legitimacy reflects what we bring to an interaction – a commitment to truth and what we offer to that interaction – the willingness to consider another person’s experience as truth. To acknowledge the legitimacy of another’s experience, we have the capacity to allow them the truth of their experience – not denied by our guilt, nor shielded by our shame, nor attacked by our fear – rather we are fully present to the truth of their experience. In that space, we offer their experience room to be its own truth and it becomes a part of our truth.
We hear with compassion for ourselves and the other, and we realize that their suffering, their different opinion and perspective, does not have to threaten us, rather we have the opportunity to hear the other’s suffering in the fullness of their experience and to see it is part of our own. Consider the difference between John’s response to Jack’s perspective (angrily denying) and Jack’s response to John’s perspective (acknowledging and accepting). When we cultivate the capacity for legitimacy, we can acknowledge the truth of our own and another’s experience without being encumbered by protective emotions.
To cultivate the capacity for legitimacy, we cultivate the ability to be present for the truth of our own and another’s experience and we create the space to meaningfully share diverse viewpoints in order to better understand a situation and to determine effective, inclusive solutions.
 MT2 of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings. Thich Nhat Hanh, Interbeing, Parralax Press.