One thing that keeps us away from peace and hence cause all the conflict and chaos is a need for being in control. This need is the toughest thing to give up because of the underlying fear and deep insecurity that is the root of this need. We remain as confused and hurt children as long as we don’t recognise this insecurity and address it. And we keep causing conflict and chaos in our own personal world and world at large until we resolve it within us.
Being in control is the biggest illusion we created out of our ego’s insecurity in this ego driven world. Not a single person is truly in control of what can happen in his or her life. When we think everything is going smooth and is perfectly under control, life throws at us something completely unexpected. No one is truly in control nor can ever be, but that doesn’t stop us from constantly trying to reassure ourselves that by being in control we don’t have to fear so many painful things. We may be able to control few things in our lives that have caused past pain, so that it doesn’t repeat again. But we cannot stop life from hurting us with something completely unexpected. Recognising this vulnerability inherent in being human saves us from a lot of hurt and pain that no amount of striving for control can. That is why vulnerability is the true strength. It liberates us from fear of pain, the core fear behind all our damaging actions and behaviours.
We strive for control because we do not know how to deal with the insecurity and fear of getting hurt or the pain in our lives. But as long as we are seeking to control, we are in fact prisoners of this fear that is driving the need for control. As we are not free anymore, it drives us deeper into fear and insecurity and a much larger need for control. If one individual is desperately trying to control the one they love, always “for their own good”, we can see how both the parties are prisoners, one is a prisoner of fear and the other is of control. This need for control is the main cause of conflict in relationships – being parent and child or spouses or friends.
This need for control in collective conscious becomes more dangerous when it results in dictatorships and worst possible crimes against humanity. Because all the worst dictators or conquerers or even an entire race feeling superior to others, truly believe they are doing it all for the good of the humanity, for saving the humanity by “positive control”. If everyone comes into my way of thinking, feeling and behaving, everything painful in the world will become alright. But this kind of perfect control exists only in our illusion. The only way to reach harmony is to lose the need for control by addressing our own fears and insecurities. The only demon out there is our own fear, and it is a vulnerable beast that needs to be embraced with love not to be conquered by control.
There are several methods commonly taught as part of spirituality that act as coping mechanisms for the pains and suffering in life. Some of them include being in the moment, equanimity, detachment, positive thinking, etc. However, all of them are often end up as just escape mechanisms for people who are struggling with pain and suffering in life. More importantly, none of them even allude to how to fully involve in life and resolve the pain. Peace cannot be achieved unless we have courage to face our pain.
Take for example, being in the moment. Do we actually have to make an effort to stay in the present when we are going through something close to our hearts? Say, something you enjoy doing, as eating your favourite ice cream, playing in the first showers? We only think of being in the moment when there is a painful and nagging situation, when we are at our wit’s end to figure out how to manage it. Being in the moment is not avoiding but fully engaging with what is happening. But most of the time we use being in the moment to actually escape from our own painful thoughts that won’t go away.
Take another spiritual practice of equanimity. Equanimity is commonly understood as staying neutral to all the situations in life. But in fact, equanimity is not neutrality. It is not avoiding painful or pleasurable emotions or being passive but being fully involved and allowing everything without resistance. Equanimity is being alive to both pain and pleasure as a rich experience without any preference towards one or other. True equanimity involves and includes everything. Not as it is commonly interpreted, as excluding or avoiding everything.
Complete acceptance is the most powerful solution to conflict and chaos. There is as much conflict in the heart as there is chaos in the world we see outside of us today. At all the levels of human existence, we are in a constant quest for acceptance. Not feeling accepted is at the core of all chaos and conflict. Right from individual personality level to the community at large, every conflict is a search for acceptance that we are unable to give to ourselves.
As a child, we are always expected to be something other than who we are. Not feeling accepted for exactly how we are, there is always a constant need to change, fix or adapt. If we are a talkative child, we are expected to be less chatty. If we are an introspective or intuitive child, we are nudged to be more outgoing or analytical. As we grow up, this continues to be a feeling of not being accepted, always feeling some gap in how we are showing up, however it is. No wonder FaceBook or YouTube likes define our existence today.
As individuals in a society, there is constant pressure to fit into the box of being acceptable. This narrow box never really fits anyone’s unique expression. We try to fit in 7.2 billion unique expressions into well defined boxes so that they do not outrage our sense of propriety or threaten our sense of security. Not much scope for real freedom of expression. By the time we grow up with these societal limitations, we get used to the boxes and we are lulled by an illusion we have freedom. However, the conflict in heart doesn’t go away, it pops up every time there is a life issue involving heart based decisions.
As a part of community, being accepted for our own faith, belief systems, ideologies – for a sense of belonging, defines our existential conflicts in the larger world. Entire history is full of bloody conflicts just on the basis – our belief in God has to be accepted by others as their belief too. As if, I cannot sustain my faith in my God or ideology unless everyone believes and accepts the same version of it.
Self acceptance is a powerful solution that allows us to grow out of our need for external validation. It allows us not just to accept who we are but also extend same level of acceptance to others and their expression, their belief systems and perspectives. We turn up into mature, responsible and tolerant individuals who do not have any need for conflict or chaos to sustain that belief in ourselves or our unique expression.