I am for you

Will you feed the birds or eat them?

a curious bird

How you interact with the other individuals you meet in life depends on how you see your needs as compared to the resources that they appear to offer. If you believe that they have something that you need and can’t easily get anywhere else, you will be likely to take it from them.

And if you believe that other individuals might welcome something that you have in excess, then you will be likely to give it to them.

Often this works out splendidly, with everyone getting something that they need, input-wise or output-wise.

But conflict can often happen when our our perception of someone else’s intentions turns out to be very different from their their perception of their intentions. When someone isn’t really freely offering something to you, or when your offering to them isn’t welcome, then they tend to react negatively, physically, emotionally, and/or intellectually pushing you away, as they try to protect themselves from you and your perceptions.

This is completely normal and healthy for living things. Sure, it’s sometimes frustrating, obviously, but it’s the way things are supposed to work, as it gives us the feedback we need to learn about how the world works.

But there is another level of conflict that can cause even more problems than a simple misunderstanding between individuals (which itself can spiral so far out of control as to cause wars if not investigated with healthy curiosity and reason). And that even more difficult level of conflict is the “inner conflict” that sometimes happens when my own thoughts turn out to be unwelcome to me. When I believe that I am “wrong” about my assessment of someone else’s intentions, I might decide that my own perception isn’t a welcome offering to myself, and I might react negatively to the thinking part of my mind, and push myself away from me (!) to protect myself from me and my perceptions. And because of the passion and intensity that this most personal kind of conflict causes, it can create an even more insipid and subtle form of “war” that seeps out from individuals and infects whole cultures, and can take on the form of white collar crimes, political messiness, all kinds of discrimination, and the all too common mini-battles of road rage and the highly dramatic internet ranting as seen on many, many web communities (culminating in the ultimate negativity of 4chan/b).

When I am mad at myself, it makes everyone else’s lives less joyful and peaceful.

It’s been said that we fear what we don’t understand. If so, our reaction to that fear is made even more intensely painful and dangerous when what we don’t understand is our own selves. Which is why many of the main elements of Buddhist meditation, especially the process of focused, compassionate, non-attached, observation of one’s own thoughts and feelings, are so valuable to the whole world. Having the opportunity to appreciate, welcome, understand, and accept all of oneself allows one to defuse any old inner conflicts and simple misunderstandings, which allows one to be more peaceful, both on the inside and on the outside. This way simple misunderstandings stay simple, which makes it much easier for you to get past the confusion and reach clarity and healthy understanding of yourself and others, so that you can better function with the reality of life, and be more effective in taking only what you need from what is freely offered, and offering what you have more than enough of to anyone who needs it. :-)

And, of course, ultimately, we will all be better able to see clearly and understand when our environment offers us what we need to be physically healthy, because our brain is a part of our body, and needs nourishment to function well enough to create the most realistic perceptions possible, and be able to react most compassionately and positively with forgiveness and understanding when our own perceptions differ from other people’s perceptions.

So, yeah, I’m going to eat more kale, so that the world can be a little more peaceful. :-)

1 Comment»

  moonraven222 wrote @

I love the way that you say this: “Compassionate… observation… appreciate, welcome, understand, and accept all of oneself…” I have found the one thing that has made the most difference for me in the past few years, was the direction to be “patient and forgiving with everyone, including myself.” And maybe even especially myself.

And that is essentially the best goal I know: “…taking only what you need from what is freely offered, and offering what you have more than enough of to anyone who needs it.” Would that we all could do this. I know I want to.

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