Part of the beauty of honouring yourself is to have your own unique experience of the world. Everybody else has their own unique experience of the world too so this sometimes leads to conflict. Your perceptions and beliefs will ultimately clash with others. When you fight or argue or defend, you strengthen your beliefs. We do this because we have a desire to be right. We argue to convince someone else that their opinion, view or belief is wrong and that ours is right. The more you push against others, the ego hardens and the more isolated you become. That is the nature of the mind and the ego, to define a separation. To make us forget that we are all connected and just a very different expression of the same source.
Osho spoke of the difference between reacting and responding. Simply put, he says that reaction is just the continuation of a pattern from the past. Whereas response is the sensitivity to be in the moment. I try to be aware of this and when I am having an experience of conflict I endeavour to respond, not to react. When I react to conflict, it is with anger or indignation or hurt. It is old wounds bubbling to the surface. A need to protect myself, to try and cover an old hurt. An attempt to hide a vulnerability. It is a very different experience when I am responsive. If I make the choice in that moment of conflict to respond I feel very different. There is a calmness and an acceptance, both of myself and of the other. When you react, you want to force your thoughts, beliefs, heartaches and memories onto the other and convince them to accept it. When you respond, you are allowing a space for the other to express themselves without feeling the responsibility to prove them wrong or make them feel better. Both of those things will only reinforce the ego. You listen to them, you let them have their expression and know that it is not yours. You will not feel the need to justify yourself, to persuade them or to show them the evidence. You will respond to them by expressing yourself without care for winning the argument. If you respond instead of reacting, there will be no argument. There can only be discussion, a sharing between two people.
This requires practice when you have lots of belief systems in place. Conflict can be used to highlight your judgements and can give you an opportunity to look at what you are holding on to. How are you defining yourself? What experiences of the past do you carry forward into your day to day life? Perhaps there’s an outspoken and aggressive person who pushes your buttons. Ask yourself why? Do you want to be right? Do you want to be superior? If so, why? To win a debate or an argument is to indulge in the flimsy idea of winning. It brings no real satisfaction and only fuels the desire to create more conflict and to be right over and over and over again. It is just another illusion. To me it’s like arguing over a glass for the contents. The winner gets the water poured into their hands and it just washes through their fingers. You cannot grasp being right, just like you cannot grasp being wrong. You cannot make the thought tangible enough to hold it. It is just a thought, an idea, a concept, a belief. It’s not real, even though it feels very real to you. Go and stand beside a tree. Touch it and feel the bark and the leaves and look up into the branches. That tree is real. Can you run your hands over your thought? Can you feel the texture of your idea? No you cannot, because it only exists in your mind.
Look at your hand, see the pink flesh and unique marks on your skin. Admire your fingers and your palm and appreciate the amazing things your hands do every day. Now look at your friend’s hand. It might be bigger or smaller and different in colour but it too serves to do a vast array of incredible things every day. Now imagine trying to convince your friend that your hand is right, that your hand is superior. What a fruitless episode that would be! Your hand is your own and it is beautiful. Your friends hand belongs to them and it is indeed wonderful. You can choose how to use your hands. Do you make a fist and fight? Or do you join hands in acceptance of yourselves to open a space in which to share? React or respond, the choice is yours my dear.
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind” – Gandhi