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Conflict and Self

— Nathu ram verma



Conflict resolution is not easy. It invokes worst emotions in us. It immediately puts our egos in the front. Some thing roars inside: “HOW DARE”. Ego clash, this is what it is. He pulls up his chest, I puff up mine. We are on the road of unending conflict. Does it benefit individuals or the humanity?

The right reaction should be to take a step back. Do not puff up your chest. Take a deep breath. Calm down. Reaction coming from calm mind is the best. You have weighed the aggression. Your decision coming from deep reflective mind is not to aggravate it, but to deflate it. You are not seeking enmity. You are searching for peace. You want to resume the thread of understanding.

Ego clash is really status clash. Get out from the status clash. Do not get into status clash. If other one thinks his status is higher, let him think and be happy. Do not be disturbed. Keep your mind on even keel. Enmity is a nasty state of mind. Pride is painful. Nourishing grouse eats you up without your knowledge.

The Person who can quiet the Self can see the world clearly, can learn the subject and master the situation. He has the last laugh. He wins.

The big question is how not to involve the Self and keep calm. One way could be to adopt the old adage. “ Love your enemy “. You may ponder over and may not be satisfied. It may not open your mind or your heart. You may feel that love your enemy is so puerile, so pedestrian, so tom- tomed. You may finally drop the idea.

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Then find the answer in The Buddha, the great psychologist. Who can be a better guide than a wise and sage psychologist? The Diamond Sutra of The Buddha is a dialogue between the Great Master and his disciple, Venerable Subhuti. It is pithy as all Sutras are. It is affirmation and negation at the same time. It makes you confused at the first reading. But subsequent readings dawn on you the profound Truth. The Great Master is advising conquering the ego. A selective portion deserves quotation in detail.

The Buddha replies to the question of Subhuti and I quote: “ Subhuti, as Bodhsattvas and Mahasattvas should subdue their minds as follows. All living beings born from eggs, wombs, humidity or by transformation, with or without form, either thoughtful or thoughtless, and neither thoughtful or thoughtless are led by me to the final nirvana for the extinction of reincarnation . Although immeasurable, unaccountable and unlimitable numbers of living beings are thus led to ( the final nirvana for) the extinction of reincarnation , it is true that not a living being is led there. Why so, Subhuti? ( Because) if a Bodhisattava( still ) clings to the false notion (laksana)of an ego, a personality, a being, and a life, he is not (a true) Bodhisattva.”

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So the crux is to drop the ego. But How? The Great Master tells the way also. He teaches the art of meditation. In your meditation observe your feelings and emotions, think you are not what you think you are. You are some thing else. In other words you are not your ego. His Instructions are doable, but it requires hard work and dedication. It certainly is worth to avoid the conflict , constant warfare as in the Middle East, provoked by Islamic State. By showing gruesome videos, they are invoking your ego to take disproportionate action. They wish to involve you in conflict. They are taunting you. Yes, defeating them is important, but what is important is to defang them of their poisonous ideology. That can be done by a cool mind, absent of ego. A cool and collected mind can go to the roots of their ideology, their real motives. When ego is gone, hurt is also gone. The picture becomes clearer. Reaction becomes sharper and pointed.

The Buddha’s message is not only relevant individually, but also for the distorted world we are living in.


About the Author
Nathu Ram Verma was educated at Rajasthan and Harvard universities. He was a University Fellowship holder at Harvard. He was in Indian Foreign Service, 1962-96, and during the career he was Ambassador to several countries. He is now an essayist and author of several books containing philosophical essays.

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