The Four Aspects of Conflict in Life
by Swami Krishnananda



There is also a little suspicion in one’s own heart. This difficulty arises because we are too much human, and unable to get out of this human aspect in our nature. Not merely that, the feature which is human goes together with a sense of finitude and incapacity of oneself. As a human being, you feel very small, and consider yourself as a little almost nobody in this large humanity, like an ocean.

Two forces work within us at the same time. Sometimes we feel that we can achieve our purpose. This feeling inside is demonstrated in the unending desire for knowledge and achievement in the world. No one is finally satisfied with one’s own present achievements. There is a longing to achieve more and more objectives in life. This longing shows that one is capable of these achievements. A totally unachievable objective cannot rouse an aspiration in regard to it, so our longing for unending completeness of life is justifiable somehow, and therefore there is a hope of our achieving all our ends in life.

But together with this wondrous hope surging forth in our hearts, there is a simultaneous diffidence caused by our finitude, so we require up propping up support every day when we are drooping down with a sense of finitude and limitation. Both these forces are working inside us simultaneously. We feel that we are capable of achieving everything, and yet, at the same time, feel that perhaps we are not for it. We feel the touch of the finite and the infinite at the same time. This is the human predicament.

These conflicting situations should be encountered properly, not only in our yoga practice, but also in our other performances in this world. This problem is not only a spiritual problem, it is a day-to-day problem of every person. The conflict referred to is present in every walk of life, in every human being.

Actually, there is no such thing as a spiritual conflict or a political conflict. It is a single conflict before us of a uniform nature. All conflicts are rooted in a single conflict. They appear like spiritual, social, intellectual, political, and the like, by outer forms of their expression. It is the conflict between the finite and the infinite. It is the conflict I referred to earlier in one session, which is fourfold. You have to remember this character of the fourfold conflict every day in your mind. It is not clear to me if you will remember all these things that have been told to you for so many days.

You must be conscious of every aspect of your difficulty in day-to-day life. It is not enough if you are pinpointed only on one aspect of your difficulty. Your difficulty is a multifaceted one. A universal problem is before you. That universal problem manifests itself as everything, even a little conflict between one person and another person, and yourself and the world. I feel that I should repeat these few words once again for your remembrance, because it is so very important I am mentioning to you what I have explained already some days back. It is very important because it is the very foundation of your clear thinking.

There are four aspects of conflict in life. The most immediate pressing conflict is your irreconcilability with human society, people outside. This outermost conflict appears as political, social, communal, etc., in many forms. It is basically a difficulty of relationship between one person and another person. That can be a relationship between two persons or many persons in a family, or a larger congregation like the nation or the whole world. In a quintessential form we may explain this circumstances social conflict. This is the only thing that is occupying our minds mostly. Day in and day out we think of other people, and our difficulties with other people. When we sometimes say the world is good or the world is bad, we are referring to other people only. We are not thinking of the rivers and the mountains when we speak of the goodness or the badness of the world. The human world is nothing but the world of people. So here is the immediate difficulty we face right from the time we wake up in the morning till we go to bed at night. It is a question of self-adjustment with people outside.

But this has a root, or a cause, which is not easily visible to the mental eye. Most people cannot imagine that this conflict has arisen due to some other problem in the minds of people. This you may consider as a higher form of conflict, a causative factor, and another type of conflict altogether. The minds of people cannot think uniformly or harmoniously. Though everyone knows that harmonious psychological operation is necessary for people’s peace, yet this will not usually be achieved, for important reasons. A partner in a business knows that the business cannot go on well if he goes on disagreeing with his partner every day. If that situation continues, the business will fail, and both will be the losers. Yet, there will be conflict every day.

The reason behind social disharmony and absence of social equipoise is psychological nonalignment of people. Human beings are not a solid stone. They are made up of various layers of inner constitution. The human personality also is a wondrous psychological organization. It is this psychological organization that manifests itself as social organization outside, and therefore a nonaligned psyche will always come in conflict with other psyches in the world. Inasmuch as this seems to be a feature prevalent in almost everybody in the world, it appears to be an insoluble problem. Unless the psychological alignment of the inner constitution of people is achieved, social peace cannot be achieved. But the question will arise: How will you achieve it?

There is a cause behind this psychological difficulty also. This is the third type of conflict I referred to earlier. Actually, it is not the third type; it is the cause behind this second cause, and that is a thing which least attracts the attention of anybody in the world. The higher things do not usually become the concern of people. Just as a little worker or an official thinks mostly of his immediate boss and not the higher ones, people also think only of immediate causes and not higher causes. But it would not be a wisdom to be totally ignorant of the final causes of experience in the world. There is something which has a final say in all things.

These difficulties which are constitutional, or you may say psychophysical, are caused by cosmological factors. As we have the most outward form of social conflict and inward psychological conflict, there is a conflict with man of the whole of the world. Nature works in one way, and we do not seem to be appreciating it fully. We cannot reconcile ourselves with the workings of nature. We have a complaint against nature’s laws and operations also. We do not know why nature behaves in the way it does, just as we do not know why people behave in the way they are doing. So there is an ignorance of many causative factors of this type.

So I mentioned to you three facets of conflict: social, psychological and cosmological. But topping this list, there is a last word that is to be uttered. That explains everything. It is the conflict of everything with the Ultimate Reality of the cosmos. The effect cannot reconcile itself with the cause. This is a philosophical way of explaining the problem. You may wonder: What do you mean by the irreconcilability of the effect was the cause? There is a basic difficulty in understanding relationships of any kind. You cannot easily understand how one thing is connected with another thing. Philosophers have tackled this metaphysical question of the relation between cause and effect. It has been found that this is the crux of all the problems: in what way is the effect connected with the cause.