On our Planet Earth all beings live in an absolutely interdependent reality, in which we are connected to each other by an invisible network to the eyes of egocentrism, but inevitably evident to the eyes of love, wisdom and compassion.
With the era of globalization, these connections multiply, intensify and become even more evident. We can know from scientific discoveries how much our recklessness affects Earth's environmental purity: we know that a seemingly isolated oil spill ruins hundreds and thousands of animal and human lives. We know that many diseases that were once incurable, today are an overcome past tragedy for all humanity thanks to the contribution of modern medicine (human beings who have dedicated time and energy to work for the benefit of all). We also know that a family member who dawns in a bad mood and raves against another person in the family, affects the harmony of the environment for all the inhabitants of the house, and consequently, for many of the other people with whom the members of that family are related that day.
It is undoubtedly: Our way of being has an immediate impact on those around us. And if we sit and contemplate carefully, we will become aware of how these actions in turn generate a ripple effect that affects far beyond our surroundings.
Every individual thought, action and word is like a stone thrown into the infinite existential lake that lodges the life of all beings. In what way each of the stones we throw influences the whole of the lake, depends on the intention, the force and the manner in which we exercise that movement.
As these connections with others expand, so does the possibility of conflict. Wherever there is a sentient being, there is a mind conditioned by karma and afflictions. Therefore, wherever there is a sentient being, there is suffering.
Our relationship with the other is traversed by our afflicted existential condition. Becoming aware of this fact helps us to reduce the likelihood that this possibility of conflict will manifest itself. Why? Because by becoming aware of our current real condition, we can make use of our human intelligence so that our relationships with others become fertile fields for the cultivation of causes of happiness and not for the creation of more causes of suffering.
HOW TO START WALKING THIS PATH?
If I begin by knowing myself as a vulnerable human being subject to my condition of being influenced by my afflictions, I take the first step of humility.
If I continue by making myself responsible for working to subordinate my mind by appeasing my afflictions, I take the second step of responsibility, and make a skillful use of my freedom.
If I go forward recognizing that each one of the beings that surrounds me is equal to me in this condition, and would like to be free of it as much as I do, I take the courageous step of beginning to cultivate compassion.
HOW TO PUT THIS PROCESS INTO PRACTICE IN CONFLICT SITUATIONS IN OUR DAILY LIFE?
HERE ARE SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE FROM BEGINNER TO BEGINNER:
1- LEAVING THE HABIT OF BLAMING ASIDE.
The blaming of the other and self-victimization are two extremes of pride, positioning our self as the center of the matter.
This does not mean that we should overlook another's actions that are hurting himself or hurting others around him. However, the approach of speaking with the other person about our perception of her actions as negative (always at first from the humble place of knowing ourselves as imperfectly human as she is), can be done from a compassionate place of sincere concern and care for the welfare of others, and not from a place of condemnation or self-pittiful victimization in front of the inclemency of the other. Our ego has very creative ways of making us believe over and over again that we are the most important thing and that the well-being of the other is or is not relevant according to whether he or she contributes to our comfort or not.
All conflict happens because of a countless number of causes and conditions that come together and give rise to this situation: neither the other nor ourselves are the only cause of the problem. There is no event arising from a single cause.
Stopping to reflect about interdependence, about how the interplay of the afflictions of each person involved, external circumstances and other environmental and even universal conditions beyond our control have collaborated to create a certain conflict, will help us to tame our tendency to condemn, which arises from our solidification of situations and people as something fixed, static, permanent, independent.
2- ESTABLISHING A BENEFICIAL MOTIVATION BEFORE WE DECIDE TO HAVE A CONVERSATION.
If by observing our mind we notice the strong presence of an affliction (for example, pride), noticing the danger that the interaction with the other from it will result in mutual suffering, we may consciously choose to approach him/her at another time when our mind is calm.
Then, when our mind is quiet, we can from that space where there will naturally be greater clarity, establish an altruistic motivation before we talk to the other: May this conversation bring benefit for the other, for me and for all beings in the long term. May my listening be active and compassionate, may my speech be prudent, sincere and loving.
Establishing a motivation that is beneficial, regardless of how the conversation unfolds itself and its immediate results, will create a cause for happiness in our minds, reinforce neuronal connections that will induce us to be more understanding and altruistic in future interactions, and will also serve as a peacemaker.
Without doubt, if we approach the other being having exercised our mind in this way, this motivation will be reflected in our attitude and he / she will feel human warmth in our presence.
3 - STARTING TO RECOGNIZE THAT THE CONFLICT HAS TAKEN PLACE BECAUSE WE HAVE GIVEN IT THAT PLACE IN OUR MIND.
That is to say, to recognize that if we had not created an affliction (for example, anger), the conflict would not have come into existence.
Afflictions make us distort the reality of what the other really is. Anger exaggerates the negative qualities of the other person and makes us perceive her as 100% negative (leaving us comparatively in a place of existential whiteness, of course!).
From a small example like our co-worker leaving his cup of dirty coffee in the kitchen every morning and being us who should wash it up to a friend criticizing us in public, a noisy neighbor at night or the political leader and his corruption defrauding the trust of the people to whom he should serve ... If to every event that happens in our dual reality that we perceive as unpleasant or undesirable, we react with aversion and become angry, we will be reinforcing the habit of projecting the existence of the enemy on the outside. Therefore, we will seek to combat it and overcome it in order to reach our desired state of comfort and well-being.
Reasons to blame the world and position ourselves as victims of our circumstances will always abound if we choose to adopt this kind of attitude: we will lose jobs, we will be disappointed by friends, our loved ones will depart, the stormy weather will ruin our party, food will not taste as good as we would like, we will be criticized, sometimes we will not have enough money to get what we want, we will get sick... and eventually, we will die.
Although these facts are conventionally negative, we can see how our reaction to them is what makes us suffer, not the facts themselves.
For example: If a friend points out our faults in public and immediately we feel attacked and from the anger we seek to defend our image, who is really causing the discomfort: our friend, his words or our anger at his words?
If, on the contrary, listening to this criticism, we choose to see our friend as our ally in our work to become humbler people, less preoccupied with their image and more occupied on their inner growth, we will laugh and nod, choose silence or any other response from the intention to take this circumstance as an opportunity for inner progress and not as a threat to our well-being. In this case, who is creating the fortune: our friend, his words or our practice from them?
Although we do not necessarily verbally express this (which can be an impulse derived from pride), we can internally thank every being or circumstance that causes our offense or discomfort, for giving us a further opportunity for development.
4- RECOGNIZING THAT THERE THERE ARE EVENTS IN THIS WORLD THAT ARE UNDESIRABLE FOR ALL OTHERS, NOT ONLY FOR US.
This realization will bring us out of our cocoon of navel-centric-obsession, making us realize that not only us, but no other being either, wants to meet the unpleasant or undesirable.
The recognition of how it hurts us when someone lies, disappoints or criticizes us, will stop us from the next impulse to want to cause this suffering to others.
And when another person becomes angry, is grieving or experiencing any suffering because of their afflictions, we will understand it from a deeply empathic place and we will wish them to be free from that misery by generating compassion in our minds, rather than blaming them internally or verbally for their reaction. Reflecting in this way will widen our courageous heart in the face of suffering, increase our compassion and make us feel connected to all.
The true enemy is the affliction and it is to her that we must oppose; not to the other human being who is equal to ourselves in his desire to avoid suffering and to be attain happiness.
5- ALWAYS TAKING US OURSELVES AS AN EXAMPLE (TO DES-CENTER OURSELVES).
Before each encounter and conversation, as a prelude to every relationship, in each human interaction, we can cultivate the awareness of these right ways of thinking (right because they are aligned with reality):
Just as it happens to me to suffer because of my afflictions, so to the other person.
Just as I sometimes can not concentrate amidst feverish desire, so does the other.
Just as I can not sleep captive of my anger thinking of ways to avenge myself verbally or physically from that other who has offended me, so it happens to others.
Just as I sometimes think of myself as the navel of the world, and as a slave to my arrogance, I believe myself to be superior to others, sometimes others suffer from pride as well.
Just as I sometimes feel jealousy towards the good fortune of others, so do the others suffer from this torment.
Just as I sometimes find it difficult to discern the proper ways of acting to create causes of happiness and avoid causes of suffering, it is difficult for others as well.
My circumstances in this life make me very fortunate to have daily food, a safe home, economic means, the ability to see and hear, sufficient freedom and intelligence to work with my mind and other vital freedoms and opportunities. However, these circumstances are temporary, and could change at any time. This awareness makes me responsible and imbues me with a sense of content urgency to use them skillfully and not waste them.
However, not everyone has these circumstances.
And I could be that man stirring up the trash in search of food. Instead of blaming him for pouring the trash into my sidewalk, I can reach out to help him. Tomorrow, that could be me.
I could be that other being fired from his job. Instead of ignoring his concern, I can reach out to console him.
I could be that other being criticized at this meeting. Instead of joining collective criticism, I can point out a good quality of him that helps to relativize the distorted perception of those who criticize.
I could be the one that is in pain.
I could be that other one who cries.
I could be that other who is longing.
And since I am as human as the other,
And since I am inextricably connected with the other ...
I AM THE OTHER.
Who is the real enemy?
Who is the true friend?