One would have to go deeply into human motivation and behavior to find the actual root of human conflict. I feel the need to inquire here whether I’m able to see to the root or not.
Humans Respond to Their Feelings
First of all, of all stimuli, human beings seem to respond the most to their feelings and feeling states (moods).
Certain lines of thinking, feeling, and behaving feel good, pleasant, or desirable and so we continue them, even though they may eventually lead to our loss or downfall.
Greed, lust, and ambition are examples of feeling states we enjoy that may lead to loss or downfall. They feel good. We consent to blind ourselves to their bad results and seek more and deeper experiences of them.
Sexuality becomes merchandised. Greed is played upon. We’re made to feel powerful by belonging to and praising a team, our team, the winning team – football heroes, superheroes, transformers, military units, masters of the universe, etc. Our team is made out to be powerful, attractive, and right. Their team is not.
Without a recognition of any life deeper than this, any kind of divine order, any knowledge that what we do unto others is done unto us in turn, we plunge ahead following where these feelings lead us.
Effect of Believing We are the Body
If we go deeper in our inquiry, we encounter the fact that our following these unproductive emotions is related to thinking of ourselves as only a body with a mind.
Our thoughts become a conceptual prison: we lose sight of a life more elevated than the life of the body and mind.
Thinking this way is a lot like thinking myself “old.” I tried on the concept a few months ago and started to become old within twenty minutes. My breathing became labored. I started to hunch over.
I immediately dropped it.
The concept that we are the body has the same effect on my consciousness. I shut down to Reality. I restrict myself to bodily feelings and sensations.
I come to value my own survival, safety, and success above everything else. I become isolated and separative. I become selfish, self-centered.
I attract others who are as selfish as myself and we, believing life to be limited, begin to compete for what we see as finite resources. Sometimes we’re on the same team; sometimes not. But the conflict between us over the ages becomes deep-rooted and endless.
We go on to develop belief systems to justify conflict as a way of life. Life now becomes seen as a struggle for existence in which only the strongest survive. The weakest go to the wall.
We fight each other, throughout time – Persia, Greece, Egypt, Carthage, Rome, Islam, Christianity, Russia, France, Germany, Britain, and America, on and on it goes.
This, I predict, is the model that operates in the world to produce conflict.
Who We Are: More Than the Body
I know I am more than the body. I saw that during an out-of-body experience I had in 1977. I was here; my body was there.
I am that which enlivens and directs the body – in large part, with my feelings, as it turns out. I am the director of the play … and more.
To act as if that’s not true places me in cognitive dissonance or inner conflict. And yet our society almost drags us into believing that it’s not true. And into focusing on our next sexual experience, a new possession, an exciting trip.
What to Do?
I need to acknowledge the truth that I am more than this body and its mind. One notch above it, I am the spirit operating it. But even that is only the next casing in the Babushka doll of bodies.
I am not any of my casings. I am not even the Self, which is itself only the penultimate Reality.
I am – as you are and everything is – the ultimate Reality, the One.
I need to forgive myself for my ignorance and begin to let go of my mistaken and self-limiting concepts.
How does This Concretely Relate to Conflict?
Only when I let go of the mistaken notion that I am only my body and mind do I begin the inquiry into how the soul operates. Everything flows from that inquiry.
It begins a long road of recovery from all the beliefs attached to our competitive way of life that keep us confined and small and at each other’s throats.
We have to raise its precepts and correlates (looking out for number one, he who hesitates is lunch, etc.) to awareness and let go of each of them in turn.
And the work continues after that.
In my most mature opinion, these are the lines of thinking, feeling, and behaving of the human being that result in the rise of human conflict.