Whereas nonresistance is the way of the sage, resistance is the way of the fool.
The fool’s mindset is one of conflict, dissonance, war. How might the fool understand this? There are two reasons.
First, the fool thinks that he (or she) is being realistic. Because his surreality is one of conflict, he thinks he is just being realistic. After all, there are tigers out there.
Second, the fool’s egoic mind enjoys conflict. After all, the ego is always hungry for more power over others, which, of course, increases the supposed separation from others. The ego incessantly fears dissolution and, so, always wants stronger boundaries.
The fool is mad. The fool’s madness ultimately comes from the fool’s identification with thoughts and emotions, in other words, from mistaking his identity with his ego.
This enjoyment can go beyond enjoyment to addiction to conflict. After all, for the fool, peace, since it lacks conflict, is boring.
My personal paradigm about this comes from soldiers who, when forced home to take a break from fighting, resent it and yearn to return to combat. If you think there are no such people, you are naïve. I myself have met some.
Especially in the aftermath of the twentieth century, the prevalence of conflict in human affairs could only be denied by someone playing the fool. According to Eckhart Tolle, Zbigniew Brzezinski calculates that in that gruesome century over one hundred million humans died violent deaths caused by other humans. While the actual number is unknowable, that number is not far off.
Most of human history is a history of conflict, in other words, a history of madness. E. Tolle: “human history . . . is to a large extent a history of madness.”
Fortunately, that is only half the story.
The sage is sane. That is the other half of the story. Recognizing conflict for the insanity and dysfunction that it is is the beginning of healing. The opportunity for wisdom can arise out of the ashes of resistance.
The way to ameliorate conflict is the same as the way to evolve past anything: accept it fully.
Let’s suppose that your beloved spouse leaves you for someone else or dies. If, instead of accepting it completely, you cling to that thought year after year, that attachment will only perpetuate your deep misery. (There’s a good story about that in the beginning of Chapter 9 of The Art of Happiness.)
Was your child killed? Did your house burn down? Do you have incurable cancer?
Since you identified yourself with your spouse, child, house, or body, resistance seems the natural reaction to loss.
When we identify with objects, with what Buddhists call “forms,” especially physical objects, thoughts, and emotions, resistance is the natural reaction to any change in the attachment relationship.
Such identifications are normal. There’s no question about that.
However, what if you are much more than the objects you identify with?
Notice that all things (objects) are in the domain of Becoming. [For terminological distinction between Becoming and Being, click here.] What if you were also much more than what you normally identify with?
What if you were nothing less than Being? What would happen to your resistance then?
Please consider the possibility that you are Being. How could you apprehend that fact, which might be of critical importance to the quality of your life?
Notice that you could not think it. It is possible to think about things, but it is impossible to think about Being.
If you are Being, of course you cannot think about Being because thinking presupposes subject/object duality rather than unity.
The only way to realize yourself as Being is to drop all attachments to objects because those attachments are what obstructs Realization.
This is why Meister Eckhart says that “a pure detachment from all things” is “the greatest and best virtue.”
Resistance is separation from Being.
If being is your nature, conflict is separation from your (true) self. What could involve more suffering than that?
“Outer” conflict comes from “inner” conflict. Until enough of us overcome our “inner” conflict, “outer” conflict will continue to dominate human history.
If we notice and embrace “inner” resistance, it will automatically dissolve and so will “outer” resistance as well.
The only alternative is that, because we are now armed with the technology that has come from scientific understanding, the madness of human history will soon get very much worse.