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Thread: Wasting energy on conflict

  1. #1
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Wasting energy on conflict

    Now that Im middle-aged my anger of earlier years has subsided. All those arguments and heated debates were thoroughly engrossing at the time and turned out to be thoroughly pointless. Now it appears to me that there is a relationship between anger and the ego. It is the desire to be right and win the argument that fuels the anger.

    It is not that I now avoid conflict at all costs sometimes it is necessary. But more often than not, open and angry conflict becomes self-fuelled, resolves nothing and is utterly pointless. If theres one thing that Ive learned from this practice, its that we can have some control over our anger. And we really should spend less time imprisoned by it.

    Look. You had the key to the prison door in your hand all along. Open the door and walk through.

  2. #2

    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    Well said,
    from another middle aged fogey and ex- angry young man. This is something I try to tell myself whenever I feel anger starting to show its ugly little head.

    Thanks

    Joe

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    We must have all looked into the same mirror. After once ending up in the hospital simply on account of tension brought on by all sorts of emotional traqsh I was carrying, I vowed to never let myself do that to me again. It simply ain't worth getting all lathered up about whatever imagined affronts I may perceive to my ego. Walking away or laughing it off is much saner, and who really cares if "you" think you're right and I'm wrong...tomorrow the Sun will rise and the rivers flow just as well without our opinion interferring.

    You see there really is a great wisdom at work in monastic minds when they require the observance of silence. What "you" can't say, won't upset me!!!!


    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  4. #4

    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    It is not that I now avoid conflict at all costs sometimes it is necessary.
    I tend to agree with this statement, but when I stop and examine it, I'm not sure it is true. Webster's on-line dictionary's first definition of confront is "to face, especially in challenge." I think it is the "challenge" part that separates "confrontation" from "meeting" (for me).

    What are some examples of every day life where confrontation is necessary - especially if you assume a Zen view of "no attachments, no aversions, no self"? It seems to me that what changes conversation into confrontation is the absolute need to be RIGHT. And the only reason you have to be right is either ego or attachment (same thing, I guess).

    I'm not implying I currently live this way, but it does sometime advance my practice to question some basic assumptions I tend to make (like this one).

    Disagreements welcome.

    Thanks,

    Craig

  5. #5

    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    Oh, I think there are DEFINITELY things worth conflict.
    Take the monks in Burma recently. There was real conflict. Or Thich Nhat Hanh's stance against the VietNam war. Or Dr. King's marches in the South. The question isn't whether to "waste time" on conflict... it's what form that conflict should take, in my opinion.
    I think there are times whern conflict is definitely appropriate, and I also feel strongly that there are times when NOT standing up for something (or someone) could be a violation of the Precepts and the Eightfold Path.

  6. #6

    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    Quote Originally Posted by CraigfromAz
    I tend to agree with this statement, but when I stop and examine it, I'm not sure it is true. Webster's on-line dictionary's first definition of confront is "to face, especially in challenge." I think it is the "challenge" part that separates "confrontation" from "meeting" (for me).

    What are some examples of every day life where confrontation is necessary - especially if you assume a Zen view of "no attachments, no aversions, no self"? It seems to me that what changes conversation into confrontation is the absolute need to be RIGHT. And the only reason you have to be right is either ego or attachment (same thing, I guess).

    I'm not implying I currently live this way, but it does sometime advance my practice to question some basic assumptions I tend to make (like this one).
    Times when conflict are necessary are when the conflict can bring about positive change. Conflict does not always mean violence, when you began this Path, your idea of the world was likely in conflict with the way that the world was presenting itself to you. Thus you sought out Zen and are able to reconcile the two into one harmonious whole. Also, we must remember that conflict can be a tool in our "appropriate means" tool box. I read a koan that went something like this:

    An old monk asked a young monk, "Where have you come from?"
    The young monk responded with a loud "Ka!"
    The old monk said,"You have admonished the old monk with a ka! Where do you come from?"
    The young monk again replied "Ka!"
    The old monk asked, "After three or four ka!'s, then what?"
    The young monk was silent
    The old monk said, "You are an idiot."

    The conflict can be between what you think you know and what you need to learn, and with the appropriate means, the two can come together. When the conflict becomes an extension of attachment to the idea of the self, then this becomes unwholesome.

  7. #7

    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    Oh, I think there are DEFINITELY things worth conflict.
    Take the monks in Burma recently. There was real conflict. Or Thich Nhat Hanh's stance against the VietNam war. Or Dr. King's marches in the South. The question isn't whether to "waste time" on conflict... it's what form that conflict should take, in my opinion.
    I think there are times whern conflict is definitely appropriate, and I also feel strongly that there are times when NOT standing up for something (or someone) could be a violation of the Precepts and the Eightfold Path.
    A beautiful (ugly) subject as we move into sitting with the Precepts on Anger, Right Speech and such in the coming days and weeks ...

    viewforum.php?f=7

    As you know, I often preach "acceptance without acceptance" and engaging in "conflict" (when necessary to bring about, for example, a social good or prevent a greater harm) without "conflict and anger".

    http://www.treeleaf.org/sit-a-long/with ... merit.html

    I recall a drug intervention I was once involved in years ago with a friend who was about to ruin his life. We basically kidnapped the fellow for a couple of days, spoke to him in harsh words, sometimes had to get a bit physical, read him the "riot act" ... but, I tell you, there was not an ounce of anger (and so much love) among his friends in that room. He thanked us later, is doing pretty well now.

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8

    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    The pointless debates of my youth were conflict without purpose (though don't tell that to my 22 year old self!)

    Long debates on all the ills of society, politics, social injustice were just arguments for the sake of arguments. We thought we were changing the world but instead we were feeding our own egos with our own self righteousness. Perhaps if we had taken our conflict outside of smoky apartments and bars and done something with it--but no, that rarely occurred.

    I think hate and anger is another thing that makes a conflict or argument pointless. I'm not sure where I read this, but I came across it at some point "I do not hate my enemy, I hate what he stands for."

    Too often we become blinded by hate or anger in the midst of an argument/conflict/disagreement. We are no longer debating the bone of contention between us, we aren't even striving to be right. We just want the other party to be wrong. We are fighting our perceived enemy instead of striving to correct the issue the made an enemy of them in the first place.

    Conflict can be a good thing, whether internal or external. It tends to pull back the layers and expose the truth, whether it is the truth of ourselves or others or the world in general. But like all things, skillful means must be practiced and the ego kept out of it. When we fight a perceived enemy, we must remember we also fight ourselves.

  9. #9

    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    I think there are times whern conflict is definitely appropriate, and I also feel strongly that there are times when NOT standing up for something (or someone) could be a violation of the Precepts and the Eightfold Path.
    I agree with this completely.

  10. #10

    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    hmmmmm

    define 'conflict'

    define 'waste'

  11. #11

    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    choose the direction of your thoughts

    /Rich

  12. #12
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    my one and only visit to the dean of discipline went pretty much like this: he looked at me and said "who the hell are you and why are you in here for the first time in your 4 years here?"
    after hearing the "facts of the case" (not really important, i just took serious offense to some comments a teacher made) he looked at me and said "dude, you got to choose your battles in life, and this one just wasn't worth getting all worked up about"

  13. #13
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    Ah yes, choose your battles. And as a favorite professor of mine once told me, once in a while you also need to choose what hill to die on. And as I would add on to that now to both of these sayings, otherwise you need to learn to let go.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    Re: Wasting energy on conflict

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Ah yes, choose your battles. And as a favorite professor of mine once told me, once in a while you also need to choose what hill to die on. And as I would add on to that now to both of these sayings, otherwise you need to learn to let go.
    gassho..

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