Thought Synergy Trajectory in Conflict Management

by Uma Ramanathan
March 2017 Uma Ramanathan

                       BETWEEN THE FACT AND NON FACT IS THE CONFLICT- J.Krishnamurthy.

 This statement is so blatantly simple that one wonders why we have not been able to dwell on this and recognize that this pulsating split second wonder can have appalling or astounding consequences. The image we have about ME and about OTHERS gives shape and changes the ability to understand from ‘what is’ to ‘what should be’. The non-fact then appears real as there is change blindness in hearing and listening.

The concept of understanding is a very widely debated topic since eons. Bhartrhari says that what is expressed by the word is it’s properties rather than it’s form. Any word is a conceptual entity and what is apparently perceived is only what is projected by the mind and in the manner it is grasped.


Speech and hearing, has inherently in the word, the primary, natural meaning, and in the sentence, the combined meaning of the words. Every word or sentence has a natural corollary/inference which can be drawn. Interpretation of the word or sentence is another facet which could throw a different structure to the combination of words. So a word or sentence prima facie is not just uni- dimensional and cannot be said to convey just one meaning. The tone, the situation, the language parameters cast another veil. The spoken word or even the body language and silence can create energy. The Nyaya sastra breaks up the understanding of the sound in a word and then a sentence as :

A conflict then takes shape due to the interpretation of what is heard or understood, an inference of what is seen or perceived. The automatic connection with what has been perceived earlier or opined earlier, either due to the angle in which it is seen and heard or due to stereotyping initiates a stand which is then justified by the ‘ME’ in that situation. Positions therefore get hardened when this coil is not unravelled. The emotional outbursts and the demands made, when allowed to take stock of this energy route and given an opportunity to recognize and reassemble the thought fragments, the ‘ME’ disappears to open up avenues to connect. Clarity in seeing and hearing is the primary ingredient for the change.


According to Osho  listening as of three types:

  1. Those who hear and see but misinterpret as they are afraid to give up beliefs
  2. Those who do hear after a lot of effort, gaining courage to translate and understand
  3. Those who hear without being spoken to

and likens these stages to rain falling on

A] rocks and slithering away

B] rocky soil enabling sprouts but need help to enable growth

C] fertile soil lending naturally to accelerated growth

In all these stages, the mediator alone can reiterate the correct information through summarizing, mirroring and reality check, encourage the disputants to move from positions without feeling cheated, and enable those who can hear, to build courage to collaborate. Oftentimes, the energy generated by the thought, gains momentum due to fears, concerns and becomes radar less and channelizing the energy and motivating it to gain is the end result of conflict management.


According to Tao, the energy innate in a conflict is the thought spiral, which when allowed to ruminate, shifts gear to become a want and then changes gear again when it is allowed to be pervasive to become a demand. If the frame of thought is changed, then the desire may be enabled to become less pervasive and consuming, to get charged to forge ahead. Every thought is therefore perceived as an energy source and conflict management is about changing this negativity to positivity or simply put channelizing the energy


The Nyaya philosophy perceives any act and its consequence as Karma. Any change[ pravarithi] or activity [chestha] or suppression [nirodha] generates energy/power shakthi] which hijacks the thought process. There is no cognition of emotion and any reaction is perceived as an act which arises out of the different shakthi/energy forms:

VEDANA- perception/cognition


BHAVANA- imagination/conclusion





Perception, inference, identification and verbal testimony are main components of knowledge. Inferring  implies knowledge of pervasion, operative knowledge and knowledge of inference. Any bias, opinion, reaction is based on the occupied territory of that act, memory about it’s related issues, and putting it together to conclude. It is important to recognize that values, socio-cultural issues, political and economic bias, and mind patterns get ordinarily imprinted in memory and conditioning. Everyone thinks differently, has different goals/expectations and beliefs about entitlement. The behaviour in inter-personal conflicts and socio-political conflicts have a different projection from group or management conflicts as individual beliefs get under the surface and the group expectations or need to hinge on to group expectations take over. Swami Sivananda in his Mind, says that every act/event at the conscious level, moves to the sub-conscious and then becomes an impression which gets stored in memory. The five senses therefore play a major role as the sense of sight, sound, smell, taste, contact have impact on perception and cognition and ultimately in the goal/artha.


Artha has different connotations: thing, purpose, target, property. The etymologist Yaska defines it as- to go, to move towards, to reach and so on. It includes:


ABIPRAYA- to intend

UDDISHYA- to point, refer, signify

VIVAKSHA- intention or what one intends to express,

SAKTHI-power of expression


PADARTHA-object of expression

VISHEYA- subject matter

In exchange of information while unravelling a conflict, the expression will include a fact, the object, intention, and the manner it is conveyed can reveal the import, the gist and the anchoring idea around which the exchange revolves.


Expressions and demands, according to Bill Crawford need the 3 C’s to change the course of a conflict: clarity, confidence and creativity. Obviously then the bhavana, dharana and smrithi have a hold on vedana and sankalpa. Until what is visualized and believed, either due to memory or the way one imbibes, is enabled to change, the conflict will have a hold on volition. The change in perception/cognition and change of thought direction, needs redirection of the energy flow to take stock and reassess.


Thought or projection is basically understood to be made up of: 

RAJAS or energy/passion

TAMAS or darkness /inertia

SATVA or light/purity

While the first surges to hold on to positions and taking a stand, the second, drags the perceives through a tunnel which looks as if it is abysmal, and the once the fusion occurs to lend clarity, the last factor takes over as realization sets in. The goal/ artha blooms then into an appropriate acceptance and co-operation to achieve satisfaction for all.

Mediation, in short, makes this transformation possible, when the mediator is able to channelize the thought energy into the path which is ‘satisfycing’.




Uma Ramanathan, Advocate, Mediator, and Mediator Trainer. She is also the Organising Secretary of the Tamilnadu Mediation and Conciliation Centre, High Court, Madras. She practiced as an advocate in the High Court Madras, Tamilnadu, India for 29 years. She has been practicing as a Mediator since 2005 and training mediators all over India since 2006. She is also a member of the Panel constituted to draft the Mediation Manual brought out by the Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee, Supreme Court of India.

Email Author
Additional articles by Uma Ramanathan