By Jenny Keating
I’ve always been inspired by Meher Baba’s statement in His Universal Message: “My Love . . . will help every individual to break himself free from his own bondage in his own way.” It has enabled me to be more open-minded and accepting of the different paths fellow Baba lovers take in loving and serving Him and has been particularly helpful when dealing with conflict in my life.
Despite being someone who hates confrontation and fighting, and loves peace and harmony, incidences of conflict in my life have increased rather than decreased and in recent years have grown in intensity. This has forced me to confront different aspects of my personality, my particular sanskaras, and has had me digging deep to find solutions in the wealth of material provided by Baba Himself, and in stories from His mandali.
I once asked Eruch about conflict and he had a very simple answer: “One must see to oneself then everything else comes right.” He added that feelings do have to be brought out, but in the end it’s only when we look openly and honestly at our own part in conflict that things will get resolved in a harmonious way. I remember feeling the rightness of what Eruch said, but have also found great difficulty in putting this into action. I tend to be more focused on the other person’s part in the conflict, rather than seeing the part I play. Over time, though, Baba has made sure that I have had to look at my own part – I’ve learnt that the conflict doesn’t go away until I do.
When I first experienced serious conflict in my life I found invaluable help in Kitty Davy’s book Love Alone Prevails, which first alerted me to what Baba wanted of us when conflict arose: “Love and forget. . . . Learn to jane do (let go), to give up wanting the last word; give up wanting to be understood. . . . Spiritually it is not cowardice to give in. If you cannot love, at least have the courage to give in.”
Gradually I’ve realised more clearly that this ‘giving in’ is about elimination of the ego and that to expect anything to improve while asserting myself was a vain hope. Baba expresses this very clearly in the Discourses: “. . . conflict of one sort or another is inevitable until the ego-self is finally tamed and eliminated.”
And in Kitty’s book, Baba makes a clear link between the ego and one’s moods: “All . . . moods feed the ego life. . . . And how can you help in this game of Mine? . . . By control of your mind and moods, and yes, weaknesses which are there for the purpose of exercising control over them . . . The slightest advantage given to the ego with the help of the mind bursts with all fury.”
In another attempt to unravel the mystery of conflict, its sources and its solutions, I explored what Baba has provided for the world through psychology. I discovered it did exactly what Baba has said it does in the Discourses: “. . . unravel the workings of the mind . . . reveal the sources of conflict . . .” but I was then struck forcibly by His following statement, that psychology: ” . . . has yet to discover methods of awakening inspiration or supplying the mind with something that makes life worth living.” Because no matter how much I clarified and understood the causes of conflict, and my own part in it, I could not find a way out when it got really intense and there was no compromise or middle ground in sight.
Reading on though I found a very clear statement that pointed me in the right direction: “The most important requirement for the satisfactory resolution of conflict is motive power or inspiration, which can only come from a burning longing for some comprehensive ideal.” From the mandali and the stories they shared over the years, I learnt that wanting to please Baba, to make Him happy was that ‘comprehensive ideal’ and in developing that ‘burning longing’ one can find the strength to go beyond the limited and limiting point of view of the ego.
I have found time again that if I can quiet my mind and ask myself would Baba be happy with me, with the words I’ve spoken, the thoughts I’ve had: would He be happy with me standing my ground because I felt I was right and the other person wrong, invariably the answer was ‘no.’ No, He would be sad because He wanted us to get along, to love each other, to look for the best in each other because, He said, all are One and this is a game, an illusion, a dream.
So the only way I can hold on to this ‘ideal’ is to silence my mind, to control it, to not let it think the thoughts that take me away from pleasing Him, making Him happy. And when I practice this, gradually joy replaces my need to be right, to have the last word, to make the other person understand and agree with me. And that joy feeds my resolve to keep trying.
Doing it once hasn’t guaranteed that I can do it always but it gives me the inspiration to continue trying, knowing that in this practice joy and happiness is found.