Equality and Conflict

One of the questions that inevitably must arise when we begin to tread the spiritual path of equality, is how we should then respond to opposition, attack, hostility or conflict directed at us by others. Must we accept whatever is pushed on us with some form of resignation or acceptance, and let those beings or forces simply step on us or destroy us? One of Arjuna’s first impulses in fact is to accept defeat or death rather than fight the battle. Sri Krishna used this as the occasion of his teaching, and an important element was how to reconcile equality with the need to carry out the “work to be done” even if it is a work that involves conflict and destruction.

Sri Aurobindo explains: “But a resigned forebearance and submission to them and their deeds, a passive non-resistance, will be no necessary part of the action; it cannot be, since a constant instrumental obedience to the divine and universal Will must mean in the shock of opposite forces that fill the world a conflict with personal wills which seek rather their own egoistic satisfaction.”

A universal “passivity” simply means that those forces intent on control, destruction and harm are given free reign to dominate, control and exploit. Equality does not mean, then, simply giving in to whatever comes, as a form of resigned indifference or accepted suffering. Equality is characterized by the psychological impact and response not the called upon active response. Particularly in a world that is evolving and developing, the process of change involves opposition from those forces trying to maintain the status quo, and hostility from those who want to take things in another direction altogether for their own aggrandisement. The divine Will pushing for a new manifestation has to address and overcome these resistant forces, and as an instrument of that Will, the seeker is thus brought to the point of having to actively oppose and resist.

The issue then comes down to the psychological viewpoint that the spiritual seeker achieves. From the standpoint of the divine Will, all forces and beings need to be seen with an equal vision; not one that blots out their effective differences nor the specific action needed in relation to any of them, but one that does its work without personal entanglement in hatred or other negative emotions.

“For the soul oneness with all, for the heart calm universal love, sympathy, compassion, but for the hands freedom to work out impersonally the good, not of this or that person only without regard to or to the detriment of the divine plan, but the purpose of the creation, the progressing welfare and salvation of men, the total good of all existences.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 20, Equality and Knowledge, pp. 200-201