William Blake in Marriage of Heaven and hell says that- --if the ----perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.
Ideas, ideologies and inferences leading to cognition are often a reflection of what is seen/heard and related to. Every passing second becomes history and there is an automatic correlation depending on what the person wants to see/hear to confirm or justify their positions in a given situation. Values, beliefs tend to compare and pigeon hole information depending on expectations and goals which are rooted in the apparent need of the self to get satisfaction. Satisfying, as an action, is framed within the contours of the wants and desires of the person and hence the narratives that lead to this action are self-centred and projections of the self-image.
In a given context, the differences arise due to contrasting goals and demands and due to inability to perceive and acknowledge the stand of the other person. The automatic thought that surfaces tends to surge ahead to permeate the whole conversation without giving a chance to consider the thoughts of the other. As persons involved in the disputing space have their own automatic thoughts and bias, naturally, the energy generated by the thoughts only turns out to be aggressive or even when passive, having a latent aggression.
The need then is to reflect and ruminate on the thoughts. To do that, the person in the conflict space, must have the ability to step back, observe dispassionately and to make a considered choice about the course of action. This is possible only when there is self-confidence and the inertia that suffocates the self-image raises an alarm enabling an opportunity to pause and to observe.
Swami Krishnananda says that conflicts are either attitudinal/mental or social aberrations. He attributes it to the individual seeing any other person with fear or suspicion even if it is a friend or relative or someone close, due to muddled and chaotic thinking. The factors fuelling the conflict can be:
- Lack of sufficient number of strategies or fear to follow unknown strategy
- Lack of truthfulness and collaboration
- Lack of self-confidence & reciprocity
It is apparent then that everything is rooted in the concept of self or self worth. As philosophy is the art of honing in on the self, equanimity in a situation or any resolution of conflict, has to start with understanding the self and its projections.
All interpretations or inferences are a derivate of the five senses- seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting. In all these actions, the sense organs go out to figure out the object, then pass on the message to the mind. By going out the self tends to identify the object and so moves into the space that the object is in and loses its identity. To regain its svabaha or natural self, there is a need to be objective. This objective state is perception and so in every act of perception there is a movement of the self to something that is not natural or self-alienation. To correct this situation, there is a need for cessation of the vritti/ modification of the process of perception and cognition. There are two kinds of vrittis:
Normally on seeing children in school or at play, we only smile and are indulgent but if our child is hit by someone or violence perpetuated against our child then we get affected strongly generating pain and anguish and so on. So there is a clinging of the ‘mine’ when it is ours and hence any damage or threat automatically generates hate, agony and distress. Every individual is who he/she is because of how he/she thinks due to the sense organs which lead to psychic chaos.
Often, we say that a context or person left an unpleasant taste, though in reality there is no tasting. The feeling that is generated by the thoughts leaves bitterness in memory that is attributed to taste. What we see/hear can have different connotations, but we choose to anchor on an idea that is self derived without understanding the larger frame. It is therefore said that the mind is either meditative or concentrative, where the former is the ability to stand away from what is attractive and the latter is limited to goals or targets and is inherently spatial.
Agony is again felt either consciously or unconsciously. Even without knowing what is troubling the person, he/she is able to unconsciously feel agony. To move away from this feeling, it is necessary to have self-restraint about the thoughts. As it is the consciousness generated by the sense organs that causes the trouble, it is necessary to control this consciousness, be a witness to the feelings that it generates and develop ability to restrain oneself from self-aberration or alienation from the self. As existence is consciousness, it is relevant to accept that recognition of being and consciousness or satchiananda is the way to clarity.
The way out of a perturbing situation then is to understand what one wants, then exercise self-restraint or conscious withdrawal of the operative process of consciousness towards a situation/person and what is inferred. Every sense satisfaction ultimately only leads to bereavement and not acknowledging satisfaction, as once the yearned for object is attained, the energy sustaining the need dissipates and satisfaction as perceived becomes flat or not so great. As a corollary, joy of getting something has a latent gnawing feeling of possible losing and so withdrawing of the channelizing of the consciousness through the sense organs alone will build the ability to be objective. Caution and vigilance over the thought process by self- restraint alone can enable pragmatic approach. Then righteousness will surface as reasoning will be natural conduct or attitude.
Debashish Chatterjee says that to achieve this self-restraint and self control one has to move through three stages:
- Forming the state of mind as goals create boundaries. Building the ability to hold to a form or idea or dharana is the 1st The pre condition is withdrawing the mind from competing forms/pratyahara or withdrawing the senses from external distractions. So it is necessary to develop selection of information to hold attention on target.
- Maintaining focus/dyana. The nature of focus can be explained by understanding the difference in pouring oil from a bottle drop by drop and in a stream, continuously. Here attention moves from the mind to the target/goal. Transmission of sense messages to the mind is related to and the intellect helps to move from distractions, to enable concentration to turn to consistency.
- The final stage is complete occupation/Samadhi as the boundary between mind and target is removed and there is a seamless rationalization.
Disputants have to move inward to understand the self by self-restraint and self control; to enable detachment from klesas or feelings that disturb rationalization; and focus on goals that are achievable to analyse, evaluate and choose for acknowledgment rather than satisfaction. Transfiguration of the self leads to equanimity and consciousness of ‘how it ought to be’.