Lately I have been thinking about “conflict resolution” and what it means to the future of our world. I suspect my close friends are inwardly rolling their eyes, when once again I will point out, in our conversation, that here or there is a fine example of utilizing conflict resolution. Finally, one very bright woman put up her hand in a form of surrender and asked just what I was getting at with the constant use of this term.
It was a good question and one I have been chewing on for weeks now. Conflict resolution is a means, utilizing specific techniques, to an end, resolving a disagreement through peaceful means. There is no escaping the news reports of war conflicts, economic conflict, food conflict, oil conflict, government conflict, well, you get my drift; but if you Google conflict resolution what appears are 8,760,000 sites offering information, educational degrees, certifications, reports, and tools to learn how to come to a mutual resolution with another person. You would think that with all this information at our fingertips our world would be a peaceful and constant love fest. But nooooo.
Instead, what we have is a large grouping of conflicted minds trapped in the separation of self from others and stimulated by sugar, caffeine, and drugs, (some pharmaceutical, some recreational), while keeping one step ahead of the monthly bills. You might say it is not the ideal breeding ground for finding a key element to conflict resolution, namely patience and tolerance. What is called for is calm observation, which allows for understanding of the self. The practice of meditation trains the mind to remain calm in situations in which we might once have lost our patience, and I highly recommend it for all people. Wouldn’t it be great if world leaders meditated together first before sitting to discuss their differences? Or divorcing couples and their lawyers brought meditation cushions to the arbitration meetings and sat to meditate before peacefully finding a mutually beneficial resolution?
Meditation is one way to change ones intolerant attitude to feelings of compassion and loving kindness. The Dalai Lama says that the kindness we express must cover all sentient beings—in particular, our enemy. If you feel anger and cannot think about kindness toward the enemy, this attitude must change if you are going to resolve the conflict. To develop true kindness, you must have a strong tolerance. Without tolerance and patience, you cannot find the means to generate a sense of love.
Whether you meditate or not you can each begin to practice tolerance and patience, with the tyrant boss who demands you work overtime, the neighbor who is always complaining about something, the co-worker who is angry and ill-tempered, actually with any individual who upsets your life and causes anger and resentment. In truth they are providing you with the opportunity to develop and practice patience and tolerance. A fierce enemy is our best teacher, and once we have learned these virtues by honing our emotions on an enemy’s ruthlessness, we are on the path toward developing infinite kindness and altruism toward all beings, and in addition, we have begun to open our heart to the world.