Posted by: Patrick Mosolf | Friday, 21 November, 2008

Inner and External Conflict, the Ego and Meditation: Response to Olga Lednichenko

A while back I received this comment on my original blog post: “Fallacies of Karma and Its Relation to Injustice”, which can be viewed by clicking here.

The original comment was:

What is a Conflict? And no. I am not talking of the Yom Kippur War or Iraq.

By the way: Here is the Yom Kippur war:

The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War (Hebrew: מלחמת יום הכיפורים‎;

transliterated: Milkhemet Yom HaKipurim or מלחמת יום כיפור, Milkhemet Yom Kipur; Arabic:

حرب أكتوبر‎; transliterated: ħarb October or حرب تشرين, ħarb Tishrin), also known as the 1973

Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War… more

Yom Kippur war was an attack – on Israel- from 3 sides. I am talking of the war from two sides.

Ironically, the war from 2 sides is a never ending war. Its a Conflict. So, it has to have 2 actors – 2 players. Here are the warrior factions:

1.
The mind
2.
The Heart

Let me explain:

*
In the night when no one is listening: its the heart that’s doing the talking
*
But suddenly, there is a voice – the one that justifies. It starts with the sound of — BUT —-

SO the conflict = Difference between the above two voices.

Funny, thing is : you don’t even need a Bible or Torah. Geeta or Koran.
You have those 2 actors – inside – built-in – by Design.
So, now we know what a Conflict is :We are ready to answer : what is Confusion:
Confusion = Not knowing which voice to suppress?
Food for thought – a talk with you – Tonight:
Are you clear or confused ? Wait a minute: Are you in a conflict?
Before you answer : Answer this: Who are you answering this – TO ?
You are the receiver and the Transmitter. No one’s listening. Are you?
Between the two voices: One is called Psychology – and the other Philosophy.
The place where Psychology meets Philosophy is called – YOU.
Are you listening to YOU? Are you free from YOU? –
If not then who are you listening to ?

If you are in doubt : Consult You. I know. I know. There is a but – impeding YOU ..Now, Some Hints for you:

1.
You won’t find the answer in any book. No Bible. No Koran. No Torah, will tell you – you.
2.
Before you label it outlandish : let me ask you : Is admonishion = an answer? Hint: Thou Shalt NOT -> Is an admonishion.. Is it not?
3.
What is answer ? -> Here it is : An Answer = One that resolves the Anxiety.

Finally: Are you – now – going to read the book called YOU?

Warning: Don’t be sorry -> Everyone has the But – Inside. Its called the “Intelligent Design”///

PS: This is 100 % original, no copy, no paste -> not even – inspiration – and/or perspiration

Cheers

Olga Lednichenko

I finally got around to replying to this comment, which is a good chance to discuss the issue of conflict, both internal and external, meditation, the Buddhist conception of the ego, and the question of internal conflict as a cause of war in the world.

My reply was:

Olga,

I have been meaning to reply to your comment for a long time, but there is an irony in my life, which is that the longer someone’s message to me, the longer it takes me to reply. That is because I consider it only fair to reply to them with an equally long message, which makes it harder to reply.

Your reply is very poetic, so its hard for me to know exactly what you mean. You are speaking of conflict, but I’m not sure if you are replying directly to my blog post or if you are just making a new comment.

I won’t reply to the political part of your comment about The conflict between Israel and the Arab world- I am not prepared to comment accurately on that at this time.

But I can reply to a few other parts: First on conflict. Since for some years now I have been thinking about ways to improve our small, shared planet, of course I thought about and reflected on conflict. The conclusion I have come to is that at least SOME conflict cannot be avoided. Even in the most just world, there will always be some conflict between people. I do think that as humans we can significantly reduce the conflicts in the world by reducing injustice and finding new structures and ways to address problems. However, some conflict will always remain which results from the unavoidable fact that we are separate and do not always have the same wishes.

The issue, then, is not to eliminate conflict, but rather how to manage conflict. Since conflict is unavoidable, we need not feel particularly distressed about it, but simply strive to handle it in the best way. I won’t delve now into how I think this can be done.

As for inner conflict, I also think this is unavoidable- although the conflict may not always be between the mind and the heart, as you have suggested, but may be within the mind, or even within the heart as well. Again, as for inner conflict, I see no need to be distressed about it, as inner conflict is natural at some stage of life. Some people may feel too much inner conflict, which may indicate that they need more time for reflection, or need to listen to what they truly feel inside. But in many cases inner conflicts are just normal. They require insight, and in some cases patience, to resolve. In many cases, the external world will resolve these conflicts for us as conditions change.

Its interesting that you talk about the heart. I used to facilitate a meditation group which involved concentrating on the heart. I think most people these days hardly listen to their heart at all. Some of the people in the meditation group commented that they couldn’t feel their heart at all during the meditation.

I find it somewhat amusing that you refer in large case to “YOU”. It amuses me- since I have been influenced by Buddhism, I’m not sure if I really believe in the concept of the ego, or of an “I”. The ego is just made up of component parts of consciousness which can be dis-assembled. Perhaps that is why inner conflict does not concern me- because when the ego dissolves it is easier to see plainly and clearly the thoughts and feelings which are present and to be aware of their interactions, without any sense of angst.

A further comment: You said “you won’t find it in any Gita, Bible, Koran.” In a way I agree with you. I remember reading a Zen story a few years ago, in which one of the monks burns all of the cherished books of sutras, much to the shock of the other monks. The point the monk was trying to make was that Enlightenment can’t be found in any book. On the other hand, I don’t agree with you, since religious- spiritual books can often be a guide, although one should not follow them too rigidly but rather approach them critically. For example, I have learned a great deal from the Bhagavad Gita, and it still invigorates me when I read it. I also benefited greatly from the Tao Te Ching. The point is, while we need not take any book as having the final answer, they can often introduce new ideas and concepts which will stimulate us to greater accomplishments…

Finally, I don’t know if you are alluding to the idea that external conflict, or conflict in the world, will be eliminated, if people’s inner conflicts are also eliminated. Over the years, when I asked people how to bring peace in the world, this was an answer I often got. I think this is true in many ways, but I also think it is too simplistic. On the one hand, I think it is true. If, for example, US citizens were more peaceful, and had less tendency towards violence and aggression internally, I believe that they would have resisted the Iraq War much more strongly. However, violence is so much a part of US society, that I believe there was a kind of resonance between Bush’s proposed actions and how they were feeling internally.

On the other hand, I think that even if people feel inner peace that in and of itself will not bring peace in the world because of structural problems and inequalities of power. For example, in the US many people were against the war, but they had no real power to do anything about it. And that is in a democracy where people have access to information and have more power to influence things. In a country like Iraq, where before they had virtually no power relative to a dictator, and were probably easy to manipulate due to control of the media, there is virtually no chance that the inner peace of the Iraqi people could prevent a war. Because they have absolutely no power to control their leader, and further, through the media, which cannot tolerate true debate, they can easily be manipulated to support war.

So what I am saying, in response to one of the truisms that I often have heard (“peace will come in the world when people feel inner peace”), is that peace will never come to the world without the resolution of some of the external, structural causes of conflict, which are outside of people.

In sum, you seem to be suggesting some sort of inner reflection. I wholly support this, especially in a kind of meditative practice which would be similar to “Insight meditation”, or “mindfulness meditation.” At the same time, we also need to address the structural problems in the external world which amplify conflict and create many conflicts which actually do not need to exist. If we do that, in the end there will remain some conflicts, both internally and externally, but they will certainly be manageable by wiser people who have developed more than we as humans have, up to this point. May we all strive for greater realization and understanding.

Further comments and discussions are welcome!

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Responses

  1. Yom Kipur war reference was just a slug: i was talking of inner conflict:

    we human often make mental models to make sense of life around us. Sometimes, actually most of the times, we follow those models by rote, without understanding the assumptions and intricacies of the models, the roots and the origins.,,,

    here is a blog post of mine on this -> this in a metaphorical way addresses the gist of “self learning”

    http://thebookofolga.wordpress.com/2009/05/19/the-book-of-olga-scrolls-knowing-thyself-before-anyone-else-you-should-know-yourself/

    cheers
    olga shulman lednichenko

  2. Olga, I think you are a rock star. And you change your picture so often I think it is the only thing that ever changes on my blog!

    You’re right, the mental modeling is something that almost all people do, probably without even being aware of it, or at least without being able to avoid it.

    What is the best model to construct? That is the real question.

    About meditation again- in reference to this subject, practice of mindfulness meditation can help one to identify and understand one’s own model (through greater mental clarity). And trying to practice egolessness (related to meditation) is also helpful by removing the clutter caused by the ego.

    Rock on!


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