Reconciliation I: Peace as Rebellion

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The fourth of the Deep Adaptation 4Rs framework, along with Resilience, Restoration and Relinquishing, is Reconciliation.  We imagine its meaning to be about restoring and sustaining a state of peace, resolving past conflict and, at the very least, designing for the resolution of future conflict.

We do not imagine all conflict can be resolved. Far from it. In a collapsing world, there is very likely to be increased conflict. Reconciliation refers to a consciousness and a versatility with practices most likely to resolve small and large scale conflicts in ways that extend concentrically from an ethical and practical center.

In the simplest terms, achieving peace in an increasingly turbulent world requires resolute and focused personal practice. The internal condition might be more correctly called equanimity, a capacity to respond to changing circumstances without being reflexively triggered into anger, fear, jealousy, aversion, indifference or pain. But not being triggered is not quite enough. Response-ability means being moved to act.

In this alienating and isolating world, setting one’s vertical compass to generosity and gratitude may feel good, but if we’re not also orienting horizontally to confront the mythologies (scientific materialism, separation) and operational practices (exploitation and violence) of modernity,  which establishes hierarchies and treats them as biological laws, we are committing an act of blind privilege. It’s not entirely useless, just incomplete.

How do we arrive at equanimity? Borrowing principles from both modern and ancient psychology, we can develop the skills necessary to improve our access to equanimity and we can improve our stability in it. But as long as there is conflict in the world between nations, ethnic groups, tribes, families or individuals, we are not in a state of peace. We may find a personal non-dual view, an oasis within the collective dualism, like vacationing at our own personal monastery, but we cannot permanently turn our backs on the origins of conflict all around us.

Any conversation about ‘getting there,’ arriving at the desired internal state, has to do with identifying and removing obstacles to our direct access. This inevitably requires an exploration and discovery of the many ways we remain in a state of self-deception. We are called to identify every self-limiting belief, every flawed construct, every incongruent intention and every addictive behavior that stands between us and an authentic experience of equanimity. Not the false equanimity of indifference. Not the by-passing of real emotion, but an authentic capacity to be with. Along the way, we might also have to reconcile conflicting beliefs about our own identity, asking and clearly answering the question, “Who is experiencing this peace/equanimity, anyway?” and perhaps most importantly, “How do I find it again after I lose it?”

All of the foregoing constitutes what we might call a “path” to peace, a method or a checklist of issues to resolve before we can say we “are” peace. Take out the dustpan and get behind the furniture, straighten out those sheets on the bed. Take out the trash. Then we will have peace. When there is nothing in the world (out there) to shake us from our oasis of equanimity, then we will be immune to the temptations of conflict. Then we can be compassionate. Then we can be mindfully open to whatever arises in our world without reacting thoughtlessly.

But alas, no. There is no path “to” peace, just as there is no path “to” realizing our true nature. Yes, there are practices to develop our skills, perfecting our access to equanimity. We may imagine fully awakened mind as the fruit of steady practice and incremental refinement of specific skills. Yet, upon closer examination, there is no denying the “fruit” of all that practice can only bring us back to the seminal realization that what we call a peace/process is already our nature. There is no way to any such goal. We are already there.

If we accept this premise, that there is no path, no outcome and no fruit of any labors, then there is no far-off objective of our practice that is only realized after a lifetime of disciplined pursuit. The only way “to” the goal is through direct realization, here, in this moment.

What are the components of a direct access to peace that serves each of us right now?First, cut through the illusion of a separate Self. One needn’t become a scholar of the origins and historical, cultural, cosmological or spiritual propagation of this flawed idea so much as a relentless inquisitor into the direct effects of holding it. Believing in the separate Self requires the existence of the Other. Without the Other, the only conflict that can exist is within the One.

Thus, all manifestations of conflict are internal in nature and origin. Every moment we spend out of alignment with this truth, which cannot be modified, enhanced or diminished, we abandon our innate wholeness and contribute to further conflict within the Whole.

Second, yes, there are a plethora of psychological and spiritual metaphors, conceptual frames, processes and exercises that define peace and may enhance our skill in achieving more direct embodiment. I’m not anti-intellectual nor am I anti-psychology in the least. Yet every conceptualization, rendering of thought, planning, consideration or representation of the state of peace is in essence an effort to ‘get there.’ Ultimately, there is no ‘getting there.’ There is only there. There is no other way there except to be there.

Third, whether we are being there, getting there or lost somewhere in between, there is nothing to be done. There is no action, there are no steps to take, no conceptual progression to save us or guide us. Inaction is also not the way. If there is a way, it is through non-action. Or, as it may sometimes be put, the direct realization of a state of peace is neither being there nor getting there, but somewhere in between. That is the territory in which an immense creativity resides, where something powerful and transformational is liberated.

Finally, the only matter left to this brief consideration of the true embodiment of peace is that appropriate responses are required in a world far from being aligned with the notion of no-self, which preserves and operates upon the presumed reality of the Other and which believes the only way to address conflict, or any problem, for that matter, is through direct oppositional action.

In this context, peace is rebellion. Peace lives outside the consensus frame. Peace becomes a relentless, unswerving and unapologetic commitment to one’s inner truth. And we become its guardian. It’s not a solitary truth whatsoever, as realization becomes a dynamic imperative so purely and clearly requiring engagement that there is no denying it, rationalizing or obscuring it. Arriving at that clarity is an eyes wide open, fearless and undaunted continuous journey into and through the full depth of one’s own suffering–to the point at which a magnificent, clear, fierce and uncompromising universal compassion dawns. Here, the impulse for collective Reconciliation awakens.

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