Interfaith Now
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Interfaith Now

Is how we Fight reflective of Enlightenment?

Image from Shutterstock, animation by Ura Rumyantsev

Fighting with family, friends, and colleagues is inevitable, at least to some degree. My two brothers, for example, can be annoying and often wrong. So it’s my sacred duty as their brilliant older sister to set them straight as much as possible. We clash even more because instead of appreciating the precious pearls of wisdom they are privileged to receive, they call me mean and untrue words like BOSSY. Obviously when they’re being such babies it’s going to cause a fight, isn’t it?

Their whininess aside, other people can also set me off, for a spectrum of reasons. As can happen with all of us — the spouse who knows which buttons to press, the parents who nag, the coworkers who get on every last nerve, the friends who voted for Trump (sorry, couldn’t resist!) We all have encounters that bring conflict, and if we’re totally honest, may not always be the other person’s fault. I acknowledge that I may have a teeny, weeny tendency to be slightly . . . um . . . bossy-ish.

It’s commonly said that a good way to judge a person’s character is by the way they conduct themselves during conflict. I don’t know if I agree with that exactly, because I’ve seen kind, loving people become totally illogical and emotional when arguing. They can be the type that would sacrifice their left arm for their friends, but never let them have the last word in an argument. So I wouldn’t say it’s a reflection of character as much as I would call it a mirror of one’s level of enlightenment and detachment from the ego.

There are two general ways to fight: fair or dirty. Of course, there can be shades in between, it’s not just a binary set of two camps. But I’ve seen that overall a person leans towards one side or the other in terms of how they resolve disagreements — on the fair side they are more interested in solving the problem and progressing forward, versus the other where a person is more focused on stroking their own ego and always being right.

A person who fights fair is not so blinded by their own identity and desires. The first indicator is that they are able to empathize with the OTHER soul across from them. A fair fighter recognizes the fact that another person may also have valid points, and perhaps there is no right or wrong but simply a difference of opinion. Consequently, a dispute will be a productive discussion rather than a boxing match. They are able to float above the shackles of their own bodies and minds and see things from a macro-level view.

The second indicator of an evolved soul is one who will readily concede if they are at fault. They are big enough to say “I’m sorry, I was WRONG, and I could have done better.” Proving their own superiority is not so important because they are not as preoccupied with their image. If the conflict arose from something that they are doing incorrectly, a higher being can admit to it without hesitation.

When someone fights dirty, they want victory at all costs. Because their ego is at stake. Hence they can become base and petty. Even if they know they made a mistake, they’ll stubbornly refuse to yield, and dig in even harder to prove their invalid point. They will drag in irrelevant tangent topics or past baggage or use personal insults. They’ll add extra noise to the conversation just to bury their opponent with an avalanche of hurt and venom. They’ll do whatever it takes to “win”. In fact, there is an official term psychologists use to describe this kind of person, which is, quite literally, Right-Fighter. A Right-Fighter values being RIGHT above anything else.

What’s interesting is that a Right-Fighter is not necessarily someone who is uneducated or mean. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think it is tied to one’s entire character — just a part of it. A person can be charitable and generous in situations that enable them to enhance their reputation, or even in situations where they act anonymously. But the minute they are involved in a personal confrontation that threatens their ego, that same person can become ferociously blind in defending it.

I’m constantly surprised at how many of my friends and family — from very young to very old — remain immature, stubborn brick walls when it comes to any kind of disagreement. For example, I’ve noticed that those in their golden years had way more stamina and wisdom than I ever did. They lived through hard times, displayed remarkable resilience, sacrifice, and pragmatism, and worked their way through situations with a stoic steel discipline that my weak and spoiled self could never emulate. And yet many of these amazing grey-haired souls can turn into tantrum-throwing toddlers if they feel that their authority is threatened. The same goes for many of my own peers. At least 25% of the people in my circle have never conceded an argument in the entire time that I have known them. Yet they are souls who I would otherwise view as warm, giving, and intelligent.

This is why I perceive behavior in a conflict to be a test of one’s awokeness and lack of ego, which is a very SPECIFIC aspect of a person’s overall character. A person may have many admirable traits but still be a sore loser.

I’ll admit, all of us are human. Sometimes it just feels oh-so-good to win a fight. Especially when it’s with your two brothers who know how to press your buttons!

But the more classy thing to do is to refrain from yelling, and take not-so-subtle digs at them through articles that you publish instead.

Sibling rivalry aside, God knows (if he exists) that I do have a ways to go myself. I’m certainly not the most perfect example of an adversary either. I was on the debate team in school and I am pretty good at arguing and pummeling my opponent with a verbal barrage if I choose to. I’ve won awards for it in fact!

But most of the time I try to refrain from deploying my natural manipulation skills. Once I get past the limiting barriers of my reputation and ego, it feels liberating to solve a problem and move on to bigger and better things. Like take a nap. Or float in a pool. It takes a lot of energy to fight, sometimes it’s just not worth it unless you’re Mike Tyson and getting paid for it. Fighting FAIR is not just good karma, it’s good time management. A helpful tip for the enlightened AND lazy!



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3 Chips On God

by Preeti Gupta, age 49, female. Curious, skeptical, open-minded spiritual agnostic. Financial planner by profession, writer by passion.