Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Conflict

There are always conflicts in the world - Israel-Palestine, Syria, Ukraine, DRC, Sudan, Venezuela - and many more. And those are just some of the violent conflicts. There are many more conflicts between different political ideologies, labour and capital, racial, religious, linguistic groups and so on.

Looked at rationally it would seem obvious that conflict doesn't really solve any problem but simply creates more problems. But humankind is not rational, or at least not just rational.

Often we, as individuals, are in conflict with ourselves. We want to be happy and we do things that make us unhappy. We want to be loved and we behave in ways that make it less likely to happen. We want to be free and we give up our freedom out of fear. There are forces at work within us that are not under our conscious control and this creates tension and conflict. And because there is conflict within human beings, it is not surprising that there is conflict among humans. (for more on this see my other blog and the talk entitled Demons for Every Occasion)

To reduce conflict within we need to become more aware of ourselves; more aware of our thoughts, emotions, motivations and actions. Becoming more aware requires some effort and is helped by the techniques of Buddhist meditation. The Mindfulness of Breathing helps us to get to know ourselves better. The Development of Loving Kindness (Metta Bhavana) helps us to experience our emotions more clearly.

If we develop more awareness of our own minds, we will over time gain a greater understanding of others too. And with that greater understanding comes empathy. Awareness and empathy help to reduce conflict, both internally and externally.

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