The Outer Solution Is a Reflection of the Inner Solution


Ganga shares her way of finding solutions to dissolve conflicts.

When I was asked [by Viha Connection] for an article on outer conflict, not inner conflict, I looked at what the difference was for me. This is what I came up with: The main ingredient of any conflict (outer or inner) seems to be that there are one or many ways, options, wants, desires, ideas, beliefs – you name it – presented by two or more parties (inner or outer) that don’t go together. One is pulling to the North, the other to the South, each with its specific implications and possibilities: cold here, warm there. This is an uncomfortable situation, and with it comes the impulse: “Let’s get out of here fast!’”

Usually there seems to be a kind of obvious solution, an agreement about what one does in a situation like that, what is the right and lawful thing to do, what one is entitled to. Often one party either yields to the other or insists on his or her own point of view.

Sometimes this works, but most of the time the one yielding bears a grudge for having given in, which in the long run shows that the conflict has not been resolved. It has continued smoldering underground until one day out of proportion: “Boom!” the attack, the revenge.

These strategies usually leave one party more of a loser and the other more of a winner.

heart shaped clouds

The trick for me lately has been not to look for a fast solution, but to do just the opposite: to hang in there and not hurry to be off the hook and comfortable again. If I really want to resolve something, I have to give myself the space to get to know what is involved. I have to find out where I and the other are coming from, what my and their intentions are.

Basically this lays the foundation for a win-win situation. Soon it becomes obvious that there are not only issues and objects involved but the subjects as well: the people who have these issues. And every single one of these people is a Buddha. (True, some feel like asshole Buddhas and some like angel Buddhas, and some are awakened Buddhas; but all are Buddhas just the same.) Feeling and remembering this creates a basis for us to look for a more creative solution together. The common jungle-war-survival attitude, where one tries to out-do the other and win over the other, feels poor in comparison.

Not long ago I was in Asia and in a situation where not only three people with their personalities (divided into two factions) but also two cultures clashed. All parties acted out of their best intentions and consideration for others, and yet all felt offended, disrespected, even betrayed by the other side. After several intense meetings in which we tried to sort things out and there was no glimmer of a resolution on the horizon, some “blip blip” flashed inside, alerting me: “Wait a minute! What is all the fuss? Something feels totally out of proportion. Up to now we loved each other and enjoyed the work, and now all is jeopardized. Heavy fears (nobody will ever come to groups organized by us again) and wild accusations (you are destroying my business, you are on a power trip) are flying through the air. What happened to love?” The crucial question came up: “What is more important to me: to be right and sacrifice love or find a way back to being together?”

The focus shifted from zoom to wide angle, from surface to depth. Being human beings came to the foreground, and the issue in question receded into the background, which, by the way, looked utterly petty from this perspective. Oh, yes, I almost forgot: The whole schlimazel was triggered by a single picture taken in a group room. Feeling the fear, close to terror, of the other melted my stand about not having done anything wrong. With the shift in perspective, almost instantly a much more true and appropriate solution was right there in front of my eyes, very simple and obvious: delete the picture.

And with that an opening to a deeper understanding arose. The growing separation melted in an embrace. Though it looked as if I had given in by offering to delete the picture, I didn’t feel a loser because I didn’t lose a friend, and the situation helped all of us to remember the essential and act accordingly. The others did not lose either; they kept their face.

Understanding myself and others more profoundly is much more valuable to me than being right or winning and a much better preparation for further conflicts; and they for sure will come.

Coming back to the question of the difference between inner and outer conflict, my conclusion is that the resolution of the inner conflict needs to happen before the outer conflict can be solved. In fact, the outer solution is a reflection of the inner solution.

Looking for a metaphor I am reminded of a story [told by Osho]:

It is reported in the life of a great Sufi mystic, Farid, that a king came to see him. He had brought a present for him: a beautiful pair of scissors, golden, studded with diamonds – very valuable, very rare, something unique. He brought those scissors to present to Farid. He touched Farid’s feet and gave him the scissors.

Farid took them, looked at them, gave them back to the king, and said, “Sir, many, many thanks for the present that you have brought. It is a beautiful thing, but utterly useless for me. It will be better if you can give me a needle. Scissors I don’t need; a needle will do.

The king said, “I don’t understand. If you need a needle, you will need scissors too.”

Farid said, “I am talking in metaphors. Scissors I don’t need because scissors cut things apart. A needle I need because a needle puts things together. I teach love. My whole teaching is based on love – putting things together, teaching people communion. I need a needle so that I can put people together. The scissors are useless; they cut, they disconnect. Next time when you come, just an ordinary needle will be enough.”

Osho, Unio Mystica, Vol 2, Ch 7

Article first published in Viha Connection

SONY DSCGanga Cording took sannyas in 1975 and spent many years in Osho’s communes. She has been running the Satori (Enlightenment Intensive) process since 1976 and travels the world with her workshops.

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