Close your eyes, and picture the face of someone you disagree with. We all have at least one such person, and if you’re one of the lucky ones who thinks, Oh no, not me, just turn on the news for one minute and you will be sure to find someone right quick.
The headlines nowadays expound upon this, telling us: The world right now is more full of conflict than ever! Such divides between right and wrong, truth and lies in this very moment are unprecedented! But they are wrong. Conflict amongst human beings has existed since the dawn of time, since the very first caveman hit his counterpart and received retaliation in return. Ever since, we have been spending our time here on earth perfecting the art of fighting with our fellow man, never taking a rest even when we have soiled the earth with the blood of our wars, and the pain of millions around the world.
Fighting comes very naturally when you think about the root cause of the issue. For the vast majority of people living here on earth are quite ignorant to the origin of their own pain. They have lived, and will continue to live, in the false belief that everything which makes them unhappy is the result of some outside force, something beyond their control. They will always find a reason or an excuse to attribute to the ill feelings that consumes them. If only this person would stop doing this, then I will be happy. If only this life situation I am experiencing would go away, then I will be happy. If only this wanted thing would happen, then I will be happy. If, then, if, then.
If you live with the understanding that one hundred percent of what makes you unhappy lies without, then you will also seek to find remediation of that unhappiness from without. If someone disagrees with you, that person is the problem. If a situation disagrees with you, that situation is the problem. If someone, or something, else is always the problem, then you will always find yourself in conflict. Because as we have talked about before, it is very difficult to try to change someone or something. For even if one person or situation acquiesces, someone or something else will inevitably pop up and disagree with you again.
So out of all the things outside of your control, what, possibly, is in it? The answer to that is simple, but it can take lifetimes to come to terms with. But you don’t need lifetimes, you can understand it today, right this moment, if you choose to. It is the choice to take a step back from the conditioning of your whole life and to recognize a new truth – that the only thing within your control is you, and therefore one hundred percent of what makes you unhappy lies within you, too.
That’s not possible, you may be thinking. Someone else is holding the keys to what I want, and without it I cannot be happy. But someone else will always be holding something that we want. Maybe today it is gun control, tomorrow it will be equal rights, another day it will be freedom, an end to war, transparency from the big corporations. The issues themselves will be ever changing, and they will never end. It is not to say that it is not important, or necessary, to fight for change, but the distinction is in how to fight for them.
You may stand on one end of the spectrum, but on the other side stands an exact replica of you, someone else who also believes their happiness lies within controlling the same situation. You both project that your well-being lies on the situation going your way, and because it is your happinesses at stake, you both fight tooth and nail to inch it a bit closer to the result that you desire. Either side are motivated by the same thing – fulfillment – and the end result being that neither side will ultimately receive it.
No matter how badly you want something, no matter how much you believe you fall on the side of the righteous, there will always be an exact reflection of you fighting just as hard on the other side. It is a never ending cycle. The outside world will never make you happy. You may receive victories, even conquer your enemy, but another one will be waiting for you just around the river bend. Are you exhausted yet? I know I am.
So how to maintain your own inner peace, while not giving up on fighting for something you believe in? By first letting go of the belief that your own happiness is respective to what the reality will be. No more if, then. Be equanimous to reality, no matter which way that reality manifests itself. This is within your realm of control – your own reaction to the world that is actually happening. Find your own equanimity, the balance of your mind, and if you can do that you will begin to recognize the ignorance of those who are not able to do the same. You will start to see the people who are slaves to their own reactions, who act without thinking out of ignorance, who do not know the true method towards achieving their own happiness which is inwards and not out.
Anytime we do something out of anger, out of cruelty, we are the first victims of that crime. It is impossible for a happy mind, a peaceful mind, to revert to such actions. It takes someone already in pain to inflict such pain to first themselves then others. It does not make it alright, and it definitely does not excuse their behaviour. But as you will see, if you yourself are at peace and are balanced, no one else’s actions can then harm you too. You have now taken control. You are able-minded to choose your own actions to take a stand for what you believe in, not by moving as a reaction or as an emotional response, but by taking a clear, precise, and efficient stance towards solving the problem.
“Anger cannot solve the problem. You must have compassion for other people. They are ignorant, they don’t know what they are doing. We have to be firm and very stern, and very strong in opposing them, but deep inside there must be only love and compassion, no hatred. Hatred and anger cannot solve any problem.” – S.N. Goenka
There will always be those who stand for the opposite of what we do. This will not change until all of the world has awoken to the power that lies within, and start taking responsibility for their own actions. Until then, ignorant people will continually project their anger and their negativity into the atmosphere, polluting the space and everyone around them with their misery. You cannot wish to change every person, it is up to them to change themselves. You can only step up to the plate by deciding that you will no longer be one amongst the ignorant, and take the responsibility to change yourself and your own negativities. And when you recognize this in yourself, do not continue to hate on your enemies. Feel compassion for them that they are still stuck in this miserable cycle of if, then and can never truly understand yet real happiness.
We all have something in common on this earth, even those with whom you feel a million miles apart, and that is that we are all traversing this journey called Life with an expiry date. Everyone is doing the best they can, with the lot they are given. But forget the rest, take responsibility for yourself. And watch, how your own life changes for the better.
Author’s Note: Reading the news nowadays can be equally depressing and inspiring. But take light, around every cloud there is a silver lining. Please share if you like this, and we’ll see you back next week!