Conflict has always been with us. Another year it continues, as it has done for thousands, this thought seems bleak. However it is a unique time in which we live too for the opportunity to end it, maybe not this year, nor the next, but it is generationally possible.
First by understanding the nature of conflict is not in population pressure, or environmental damage, or race, resources. It might be controversial to say that, many opinions favour any one of these as the traditional cause of conflict. We are traditionally told that there are too many of us, at least in certain geographies, that we are too different to share the same geographies, that certain communities are hopelessly failed, that there is too few resources to go around there, and there are too plenty here, that deserts and oceans, water loss and resource plunder has damaged environments and made them unsustainable. However in fact there are symptoms of greater causation. Struggling to communicate.
The true cause of conflict at all levels failure of communication, whether it is the micro community in which one lives locally or the macro political one. When we see a problem arise between people wether it is lack of employment, education, resource monopoly, services, environmental damage, it is traceable to communication and the failure to communicate with each other, for the corporation or individual in position of power to listen, to the individual to make heard among the group.
It is important to see that conflict is brought about by people succeeding in principles, to bring services, find resources, provide education, expand into the environment, grow economy, and people want to be part of this success. Success is facilitated by increased communication. The era in which we live is the most technologically successful one to date, health, longevity and prosperity have never been so widely shared at such a high level before this. This is the era of Communication and therefore the best chance to bring our conflict problems to an end.
One asks; how can it be done? Communication is facilitated by Compassion. For individuals, corporation, governments, communities, it means going outside our selves, or rather our selfishness, and developing personal and policy empathy. Compassionate relations can lead to persons understanding the needs of their neighbour, the stranger, and see how in communication between each other all our needs are met. Trust arises.
It is an effort at every level, beginning with the individual, remembering a group of individuals together is a government. Human being are beings of Communication, we are the greatest communicators in our world capable of poetry, complex design and thought and sharing. Therefore we are in fact by nature beings of Compassion.
Communication with others is developed by communication with self. We may often think myself is the obstacle to improvement, ‘Selfishness’ is, it is the cause communication failure and therefore when we are selfish we are unable to connect Compassionately. Seeing within our ‘Self’ is however necessary to listening to others and improves as we see deeper and deeper into true nature of ‘I’, then we come to understand the perspective we occupy among each other.
In the Ox hearding pictures of the Zen school we find the progression from seeking outwardly, to seeking inwardly, deeper and deeper until finally the goal is not only found, understood, but even surrendered as no longer necessary, and finally in true confirmation of knowing our True self, going out among others, not to preach but to listen and Communicate. Compassion comes a full circle.
This is a model for Humanity.
In the Zen school meditation inquiry takes on therefore central importance. Not only because of the superstition of relieving one’s on suffering causation, but in creating the platform for Compassion and therefore communication and therefore living together, with all of Humanity.
Persistently a person may ask in distress, ‘but what about…? But what about…? As we look inwardly into our own self the endless grasping ceases, replaced by quiet communication. Trust developed in our self, leads to trust in others, this facilitates communication.
When we look to what is destructive in Humans, the pressures that we are under, we see that they are all traced ultimately back to mistrust. Even the violent extremist, or the violent individual in a domestic situation is seeking outwardly in others, a weapon may be the tool for getting attention, but it is this reaching out through violence. The greedy corporation is doing the same. The corporation acting destructively is an organization of individuals using commerce, property as the tool to ‘ownership’. The basis of this is seeking outwardly for a group, a god, a profit, a prophet, to satisfy this lost need to be heard and recognized. This cannot just be extinguished by leaving it to others, action vs. action, only by looking inwardly to self, understanding, developing and maturing. Coming to a mature realization of the role we play in listening to each other and that of empathy in relationships.
An old Zen saying goes; ‘the Mountain is great because of the Valley, the Emperor is great because of the people’. If we practice looking into our Selves with this spirit that the small affects and creates the large, then we can end conflict and other problems created by our mis-communication through Compassion, starting with ourselves.