I recently read an article by Acharya Nyima Tsering on Conflict Resolution from a Buddhist Perspective. I will in due course post on the Conflict Resolution approach of other religious traditions. The full article is at:
I thought it would help (and I hope Acharya Nyima Tsering does not mind), if I condensed, summarized or been inspired by his points to write one of our Top Ten Conflict Tips, (though I make it 12 :)), recognizing that this may reflect a certain inappropriate Western limited attention span, which I do below:
Every sentient being is so unique and has been gifted with talents to deal with life in their own way, since every one of us are coming along with habitual collection of so many different experiences through many lifetimes. Even in this life, we come across different people, environments and are influenced accordingly. So, the process of judgement differs from one person to another, due to different frames of references, different conditional process and simple habits that we are ingrained within from childhood. So, no book and person can meet the various requirement of every individual. Therefore, I am here to share some of my ideas to deal with conflicts and disputes. I hope it might serve as potency or catalyst to resolve the conflicts.
- Recognize the consequences of ill-will towards others and from others in a mindful way
- Use a circular way of thinking such as action, reflection, learning and strategy and methods to know the person’s position or status, and exploring their feelings, needs and interests.
- Understand that we often attribute our anger to an external cause or another person, whereas it is more practical to change ourselves and our own attitude. The source of the conflict may lie in our own attitude which we rigidly cling to.
- The person who has attained a broad outlook, a spacious and serene mind, can easily accept and deal with any difficulty. A person who is frustrated, hyper sensitive and dissatisfied will find problems and pain everywhere, even he or she is staying in beautiful surrounding with all the sensorial pleasures but due to his or her mental state, feels like staying on a thorny bed.
- Visualize the person who makes you angry and consider whether or not it is the nature of the other person to inflict harm. If you can think of numerous instances in which that person has inflicted harm on you or some one else, then you must have been aware that it was in that person’s nature to cause harm. If this is the case, it is better to avoid dealing with that person in the first place, not giving him or her the opportunity to cause you harm or accept the nature of the person and deal with him accordingly. But if they tend to be good, then maybe what has happened is temporary and the difficulty will disappear
- Search for the true source of your problem, developing a perspective of interconnectedness and concluding that there is no intrinsic source. It is more reasonable to angry with person’s delusions than with the person himself. It is also appropriate to realise that, in the past, you have inflicted similar harm to other that you are now receiving when you face difficulties. It is because you have previously created their cause and again it makes more sense to angry at the cause of your problems than the agent.
- All the conflicts and unhappy experiences are the result and fruition of our past deeds and that the other person who actually hurt you is merely a condition for the ripening of the seeds we have long sowed. Our suffering diminishes when we learn to accept it with reason rather than resisting. It is law of nature that resistance causes misery.
- In many cases we are responsible for our own pain and hurt. Our minds are so conditioned by negative patterns that pain and hurt becomes like an addiction even small external problems can seems to be totally overwhelming, for example, some one’s casual remark about us, without any intention to hurt us can cause us to perpetuate the disagreeable feeling, by repeatedly thinking over the incident in many different way.
- In conflicting situation we must realise that things happen because of many causes and conditions. It is human tendency to point to one cause and blame it. Then we develop anger but if we think more carefully, if we find the reality of the situation, then we know these things happen because of many causes and conditions, which includes one’s own mental attitude. Buddhist concept is to explore more deeply into the root cause of the problems.
- Ignorance is really root cause of our conflicts and difficulties. It is the root cause of the both attachment and hatred. On the other hand, we might begin to hate a person and think of him or her as inherently horrible and repulsive, although some one else might think our hated person is good and wonderful. Again the mind exaggerates, magnifying the negative qualities so that we can think of nothing else and all the realistic perspective is lost. Because the mind is so fixed on how horrible our enemy is and it becomes very dark, and spoils even the most pleasant circumstance whenever we are near or even think of our enemy.
- Both attachment and hatred comes from ignorance. We begin by thinking we really exist independently and important, then we continue to by dividing everything into desirable objects of attachment (my loved ones, my friends, family, my house, my group, my country, etc.) and hated objects of aversion (my enemy, my pain, my country’s enemy, my convenience. etc) and end up spending all of our energy trying to support or increase the object of attachment and avoid or destroy the objects of aversion. In fact, all the war and famine, drought and destroying other sentient being’s happiness is also due to misconceived way of perceiving things.
- It is of course considering yourself so important will cause you to generate anger and hatred when something goes little wrong if we are so concerned about our own benefits, even the most minor problem becomes unbearable. If I am concerned only about myself, I am more cautious of what will happen to me, nobody is taking care of me and listens to me. I might die of starvation; out of cold and so forth, deep down in our heart there is loneliness and dissatisfaction. in a constant fear of being attacked and get killed by the other stronger animals. Think of those wealthy people who hardly get a good night’s sleep and are constantly occupied their mind to increase the wealth and sometimes feels fear of getting robbed and even get killed. Some big shots in the west even sleep with gun under their pillow. So, all the sentient beings have their sad story of misery of dissatisfaction, depression and conflicts no matter how they are materially rich.
In summary therefore, in daily life you will encounter with many people, and you can be sure that not all will agree with you. If you decide each morning when you wake up that you will not be affected by unpleasantness and insults or criticisms or difficult situation that won’t make you unhappy and start your day with sincere altruistic intention, thinking how you can serve your fellow human beings including all the living creatures to make this world a better place to live, eventually you will become a very patient, tolerant, compassionate, warm hearted and calm person who becomes a friend to all and a genuine member of the human race able to work for conflict resolution.
Acharya Nyima Tsering: