none of this makes any sense
i have this image in my mind of everyone i know like pinballs in a machine full of other pinballs, constantly knocking against each other and changing direction, infinitely affecting the path of each other's lives, whether deliberately or ignorantly.
there is an idea trying to form itself between my hands that is difficult to convey in coherent strings of words. the zen buddhists believe there are two ways of approaching and practicing zen: pen chueh (being enlightened from the beginning of time) and shih-chueh (the eureka moment, moving from ignorance to enlightment).
the lines of thought struggle to connect linguistically, but the feeling is tangible.
keep the idea of pen chueh and shih-chueh held in your mind, a stone in an open palm. feel the weight of it.
conflict happens because we (human beings) experience differences in selves (identities) that appear to be in opposition. alternatively, we also build relationships with other people whose identities relate to those we perceive in ourselves.
if we are enlightened from the beginning of time (pen chueh), perhaps all sense of identity that either divides or unites is superficial/decorative. like crows, we are collecting shiny objects to build nests around us that feel safe, based on the experiences we are currently living in, but we do this based on the assumption that we are different from one another.
i am thinking now about reincarnation, the soul returning again and again to different bodies (samsara), until reaching enlightenment/nirvana. another theory posits that there is only one soul, infinitely cycling, meeting itself over and over again.
if we conceptualize it like this, empathy could be interpreted as this moment of recognition where you are suddenly called into feeling the emotional state of another being because you are that being, and you have felt that emotional state before and will again, infinitely.
if the path to enlightenment is a practice of recognizing that every person you meet is also you, in a different experience, then practices of self-care become crucial because in taking care of yourself, you are also taking care of other incarnations of self. care of the self becomes, integrally, care of all.
self-care being distinct from selfishness, in that self-care is a practice of healing designed to take nothing from others, and selfishness is inherently a drain on others.
social conflict could also be understood in this light as forms of selfishness constantly banging up against each other, as each faction is demanding something from the others that is a drain on the others, because it is a practice of holding them responsible for your own well-being (or the well-being of a group being the responsibility of another group). this guarantees that conflict repeats itself, because different groups will always rise and fall in power.
ignorance, then, lies in the inability to recognize that when we bang up against what appear to be diametrically opposed forces, we are actually banging up against ourselves, and the conflict arises out of the refusal to understand the party standing in front of us without realizing that we are actually looking at a mirror.
how differently would you speak to the person in front of you if you were actually speaking to yourself?