I was away at a training last week studying a yogic text called The Bhagavad Gita. It is the “story” of a conversation between a student and a teacher, and it takes place in the middle of a battlefield where the student is stuck; unable to move forward in his duty as a warrior. Essentially, he cannot figure out how to act, or if he should act; leaving him with no clear cut way to see through the dilemma that stands before him. That being that both sides of the battlefield are arrayed with his kinsmen and his teachers, and duty would say he must choose where to fight. And yet, he cannot imagine how to act without causing harm; to himself, to others, or to the code he has established around how to be in the world.
Haven’t we all been there? That place where no matter what you might choose, seems to carry the burden of harm? In these times, who do you choose for? What do you choose? Does choosing for yourself mean you are choosing against another? Does choosing for another mean you are choosing against yourself? This is one of those seemingly unsolvable paradoxes that as human beings, we will all face at different points in our lives. And because it is so difficult to solve, we often try and boil it down to rights or wrongs, this side or that side, as a way of trying to manage something that feels too hard to be with.
But what if, as in the Bhagavad Gita, everyone on the battlefield represents an aspect of the main character? In our own lives, that main character, would be us. From this level of understanding, it can no longer be a case of me versus you. Instead it is really about all of the “me’s” within me. And while our dilemmas with others can feel so real, so external, and so about them, the truth is that when we really go for resolve in our lives, we will often find ourselves at the crossroads of a paradox; something that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense, and yet, perhaps, true.
But don’t take my word for it. Instead, try this. The next time you are in a difficult moment with another person, or even something transpiring on the world stage, label what it is that feels difficult or unsolvable to you. Fear, violence, insanity, insensitivity, unconsciousness, greed, meanness, etc. Then, and the hardest part of all, find it within yourself. Do not be fooled that it has to show up in the egregious form you are encountering outside of yourself. See if anywhere, in any form, you can find something that smacks of you in the battle you find yourself engaged in with what is outside of you.
To do this requires a commitment on your part to step beyond blame, infantalization, and victim consciousness. And it requires a softening of the part of us that could never imagine, never mind admit to, something so horrible belonging to us. But if we could do it, can you imagine the possibilities in our lives and in the life of the world? Can you imagine how things would change for you if you could no longer blame an external source for what you had to… Or couldn’t…
Because if you could, you would find the only real freedom there is to be had on the battlefield of Life.