Dealing with Conflict: A Yogic Perspective

Conflict appears to be a part of many lives. It seems to be all around us. It is prevalent in the Ayurvedic and Yogic communities, in the family and on the world stage. To be alive as a separate entity on this planet sometimes means bumping into other people’s separate identities.
We identify ourselves with many things: our bodies, our clothing, our personality, our work and our history are only a few. Most people also identify themselves with their beliefs and perceptions. We tend to believe that how we see the world is the right view of reality.
People of pitta nature are most challenged by overly identifying with their perceptions. The fire in the mind is capable of burning away false illusion and revealing truth. This occurs when the mind is perfectly clear and the individual is purely sattvic. As most people are not purely sattvic, there is some distortion to what a person of pitta nature perceives.
Taking their perceptions as real leads a person of pitta nature toward intense feelings. When a person of pitta nature’s perceptions conflict with another person’s, the feeling that arises is anger. Anger generates the actions of conflict. In the bar, it creates a brawl, in the family an argument; in political organizations it generates angry letters and counter letters to the membership. Much of society deals with anger in the “civilized” fashion of lawsuits. There must be a lot of anger, as there are a lot of lawsuits. In the macrocosm of a country’s collective consciousness, nations deal with anger in the form of war. In the microcosm of our own lives, all harmful actions (physical or otherwise) taken out of anger and frustration is an expression of our warlike nature. Pitta is the warrior. Always right, the war becomes a passionate, self righteous conflict.
George Bush is a warrior. Ariel Sharron is a warrior. Sadam Hussein is a warrior. Bin Laden is a warrior. Some members of CAAM are warriors, some students are warriors and some teachers are warriors. Warriors live for the righteous fight. Warriors live to be right. Warriors destroy to be right. That is, until they awaken.
As the person of pitta natures becomes more sattvic, the mind becomes clear and the pitta person perceives the higher truth. There comes the realization that each soul is growing, learning and evolving and taking the best actions they can based on where they are on their journey. I really don’t believe that anyone wakes up in the morning as says to themselves, “Okay, I’m a bad guy, how can I do some really bad things today.” Rather, most people rationalize their actions in a manner that makes them feel good about themselves and look good to others. Ordinary people believe their own rhetoric and believe they are right.
Having pierced the illusion, the sattvic pitta person chooses to remain above the maya (the play of consciousness) and does not engage their enemy in battle. To do so only is to deny the Truth they see so clearly. In Vedanta, “Tat Twam Asi” means “thou art that”. When we engage others in righteous holy wars, we are our own enemy. When we harm them, we harm ourselves and we remain bound to the wheel of life, death and suffering.
In the absence of anger there is both compassion and amusement. There is compassion for the struggling soul and amusement when we find ourselves being drawn into a conflict when we know better. Amusement often acts as a windshield wiper as we drive down the highways of life. Seeing clearly through a clean windshield (the mind) we can exit the highway and take the road less traveled up to the highest summit. From there it is all clear.
Want to live in a peaceful world? We must first make peace with ourselves. Then, we can make peace with our families and our communities. When enough people live this way, we shall no longer express our collective consciousness in the form of War. Peace begins with each one of us. Peace begins with compassion.