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War and Peace

June 5, 2015

Imagine you live in a country that shares a border with a hostile neighbour. Your neighbour has many ideological differences that represent a significant threat.

Broadly speaking, you can adopt positions that are relatively offensive, defensive or neutral. The worst case scenario is war and the ongoing damage that goes with it. A less dramatic but still problematic situation is an uneasy truce whereby unresolved tensions remain.

The best solution is clearly a peace agreement that involves the recognition and acceptance of differences that still remain. In this case you may not like or agree with the different ideologies of your neighbour, but it becomes possible to focus attention on your own energy, resources and wellbeing.

As the wisdom traditions teach, this problem actually arises continually on both the personal and interpersonal levels, it is an individual and communal dilemma.

For the individual, the issue is within oneself – the struggle with difficult thoughts and feelings. To wage war on these inner experiences only leads to their inevitable return under different circumstances. An uneasy truce with these thoughts and feelings is like a resignation that you are stuck with them, a resignation that continues to sap your energy and sense of freedom.

To make peace with difficult inner experiences requires the continual practice of recognition, acceptance and self enquiry. Difficult thoughts and feelings can be constantly noticed, acknowledged and allowed to be there while we work to re-balance and create a less reactive state of being. We don’t have to like these experiences but they are not viewed as the enemy, rather as a normal process within the reactive nature of the body-mind. This helps us to practice the recognition that thoughts and feelings are not actually who we are, they do not define us or establish our true identity, they are transient processes.

As stated over thousands of years, inner development requires the practice of a meditative state (being present), compassion and forgiveness (of yourself and others), humility and wellness. We are instructed to let go of assumptions, to recognise that people have different perceptions of reality, and to follow our own enquiry into the nature of truth.

Spencer Joseph

From → Consciousness

  1. That’s right. it’s important to acknowledge the problem and then take steps to deal with it. Pretending it’s not there or avoiding to face it (the ostrich mentality) does not help.

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