Peace with Conflict

the Basica

  Look upon martial arts with an artist's eye. The ultimate is not to be the stronger, faster, more flexible, more skilled, more clever, or more experienced fighter. Neither is some worthy superiority reached by having the one trick that unexpectedly outmaneuvers the enemy. It is not even reached by having the bigger bag of tricks. The ideal is not attained by suddenly pulling out a superior weapon in the end. The greatest value is not found in winning. These are all very utilitarian concerns, and people often enough have reason to put the fighting arts to utilitarian use. However, this does not represent the pinnacle of what such arts can be or do. And while there is truth to be found in the bald brutality of facing off with a worthy opponent, where you can only be who you are and do what you can do, even this moment of self discovery and mutual understanding is not all there is.

  Even a crude drawing done with crude materials can captivate, while at the same time, perhaps one that is technically precise - created with the best tools, the highest quality supplies, the most careful hand - is dead. Gimmicks age, like everything else - sometimes very fast. Comparing a lullaby with an aria says nothing about the singer. The awarding of a blue ribbon cannot predict that any particular observer - or even most, over time - will be moved by that piece or by any other made by the same individual. Good media, novelty, choice of genre, competition and critique... these are not pointless considerations. Each can be utilized in a way tailored to the individual to aid in producing maximum growth of the artist and expansion of her or his ideas. Recognize, however, that they are not end points. Additionally, it is quite worthwhile to realize that pretentious grandeur proves nothing. But understand that this knowledge alone does not produce great art.

  Consider a discussion in which there is a difference of opinion. By the end of it, perhaps neither may have convinced the other. But this is not necessary. The greatest height is achieved when two things happen that are actually one thing. Neither wins, and both arrive either somewhere they have never been before or somewhere they have been but in a way that adds something new and worthwhile to it. What occurs is actually that they are both elevated by their experience rather than torn down, though one or both may at first feel torn down in some way, as part of the process of their eventual gain. In times of such feeling, there is benefit in asking oneself what, precisely, has actually been torn down.

  Without controversy, disagreement, difference, the ground is not fertile for us to raise our heads and flourish. There will be conflict in life. And, while we may not always be able to select exactly what it makes of us, we can most certainly choose whether or not it makes more of who we are - and better. War is not the result of conflict of interest, in opinion, or of characteristics. It springs from the inability to accept conflict as natural and to handle it sanely, maturely, rationally.

  Day by day, something, many things, will disturb your world. From time to time, things will steadfastly refuse to run smoothly. Moments will refuse to be alike. People will refuse to be alike. Situations, ideas, objects, attitudes will all assert their diversity, all in stark mockery of the most strenuous efforts of those who would insist on a flat and seamless landscape.

  Many a seeker who has glimpsed complete tranquility finds that a totally open heart is all well and good until someone slaps you in the face. What to do? Try to live in what then feels like only a fantasy? Despair at ever making the dream a reality, while continuing to toil through life's labors and wounds with a heart that seems to have become more closed than ever? Abandon all hope and give yourself over to the jaded eye and the cynical tongue? Is the everyday simply of no use to the ideal world and vice versa? Is there no connection at all between the two, except that a few extraordinary people are rumored to have managed some kind of mystical leap across a great abyss from the mundane to the sublime while most of the rest of us are left behind?

  If you would bridge that gap yourself, then learn well and remember this: The more you make peace with conflict, the more you can be open to love and bliss. This is what makes the difference between the harmony we aspire to, both within and without, and the anger and fear that perpetuate the violence and horror we look to end. There is not just one great leap. Only the initial discovery of what is possible is such a leap. All the rest is step by step, some steps larger, faster, or in greater number at a time than others. The point is not to win but to arrive.

  And what if you do not see your fellows as keeping apace with you? Perhaps they are, and perhaps they are not. But there is more in this than your own personal journey, leading to your own satisfaction, though that may be reason enough to embark. Bear in mind also that it is just as good and important to say, "I will be the one to go this way, as far as I turn out to be able," as it is to say, "I will be the one to risk giving my life, " or, "I will be the one to commit to bearing this burden," or, "I will be the one to give account and face consequences", or, "I will be the one to give up some of my freedom and be responsible and moderate while others act with greater abandon". If any one person does any of these things, the rest of the world benefits. And so, even your personal development matters. Let the achievements of the one benefit the whole. And draw strength and comfort at the same time from knowing that you are, in fact, not the only one - no matter how long you may spend unaware of the others, some of whom may be right before your face, though you do not necessarily see it.

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