Two Kinds Of Resistance

Rhonda Fabian

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Awakin FeatureThe light begins its slow return to places in the North, and today a new year begins.

Some people are saying it is already “too late” – climate chaos, species loss, war, disparity – that we have gone too far, the darkness is too profound. We, however, believe no darkness is so profound that a single candle cannot dispel it.

The Buddha’s teaching on light and darkness is simple: they depend on each other for their existence. Like ‘above and below’, ‘left and right’, ‘birth and death’ – take one away and its partner ceases to be. They do not have a separate self – and neither do we. Each of us is composed of many elements – our ancestors, DNA, what we consume, our relationships, and our actions. Maybe somewhere in the world, our ‘opposite’ also exists.

Anger, outrage, despair, fear – these are common responses to the injustices we see around us. We want to take action, to rebel, to protest and oppose the people on the ‘opposite’ side of the issue or debate. However we must be skillful at transforming these feelings into compassionate and nonviolent action if we want this kind of resistance to be effective. This resistance requires satyagraha, or soul force – the fire of determination in our hearts, and a willingness to see that, like ‘left and right’, we depend on each other, even those with views very different from our own, for collective awakening to happen.

There is another kind of resistance we should also consider. Just as the body builds up resistance to a virus or a cold, we must build up our inner resistance to despair. Zen monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says, ‘In this kind of resistance there is no corporation, no politician and no policy to oppose or to rebel against. It all comes down to our own free conscious choices, without judging others or imposing our views.’ For example, we can choose to consume less, to support our local economy, to reduce or eliminate meat in our diet, to look after our neighbors and the children in our community, to plant trees and care for our watershed and our soil, to be models of peace.

The new year ahead will require both kinds of resistance if it is to be truly ‘new’.

Rhonda Fabian is the editor of Kosmos Journal.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that we depend even on those whose views are very different from ours in order for collective awakening to happen? Can you share a personal story of a time you were able to transform a feeling of anger at injustice into a compassionate nonviolent resistance rooted in satyagraha? What helps you focus on your conscious choices instead of judging others?

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7 Previous Reflections:

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    On Apr 29, 2019 free trials weight loss wrote:
    Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds are a few examples of high-fiber foods that can boost fat burning and weight loss.

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    On Apr 29, 2019 free trials weight loss wrote:
    Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds are a few examples of high-fiber foods that can boost fat burning and weight loss.

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Jan 9, 2019 Bharat Ram wrote:
    This idea is concretely explained by Dr. Sriram a renowned spiritual scientist. He explains this as part of our experience as dualistic.. do visit his web sites Eye on I, Journey unto Joy and Roots of Happiness series.. 

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    On Jan 8, 2019 G K AGRAWAL wrote:
    All events have two sides: it is for us which one we follow. 

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    On Jan 5, 2019 david doane wrote:
     What we call opposites like light and darkness, are different expressions of one whole.  I think the Buddha's teaching is not that light and darkness depend on each other for their existence, but that our awareness of light and darkness depends on their existence and their contrast.  I think what Thich Nhat Hanh is saying, and I hope he is saying, is it is for us to choose and perform right action, both inwardly and outwardly, because it is right, and not to oppose anything, not to impose our view, not to try to change the other, and not to accomplish any goal or agenda.  Views that are different than mine can expand my view and contribute to collective awakening.  There have been times that I have felt anger at what I saw as injustice,  and my willingness to be open helped me see positive and truth in what the other was doing which transformed my anger into compassion.  What helps me fous on my conscious choices is my knowing that the only thing I ... [View Full Comment]

     What we call opposites like light and darkness, are different expressions of one whole.  I think the Buddha's teaching is not that light and darkness depend on each other for their existence, but that our awareness of light and darkness depends on their existence and their contrast.  I think what Thich Nhat Hanh is saying, and I hope he is saying, is it is for us to choose and perform right action, both inwardly and outwardly, because it is right, and not to oppose anything, not to impose our view, not to try to change the other, and not to accomplish any goal or agenda.  Views that are different than mine can expand my view and contribute to collective awakening.  There have been times that I have felt anger at what I saw as injustice,  and my willingness to be open helped me see positive and truth in what the other was doing which transformed my anger into compassion.  What helps me fous on my conscious choices is my knowing that the only thing I can control is my conscious choices, and knowing that my judgmentalness and trying to control outcome get in the way of my right conscious choices.

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    1 reply: Eme | Post Your Reply
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    On Jan 4, 2019 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
     The Buddha's teaching on light and darkness is simple: they depend on each other for their existance. For collective awakening against injustices that affect us all, we need to learn how to transform our feelings of anger, outrage, despair, fear into compassionate and non-violent action if we want this kind of resistance to be effctive. This kind of resistance requires satyagraha or soul force, the fire of determination in our hearts and a willingness to see that we depend on each other even on those whose views are very different form our own. Mahatma Ghandhi's civil disobedience or resistance movement  against the unjust British rule of India was based on satyagraha. His satyagraha freedom movement was also based on building up inner resistnace to anger, hatred, fear and despair. Both kinds of resistance come down to our own conscious choices. I learned this great lesson from Gandhiji as a role model and from others folloing his path. Satyagraha as I understand is a soul ... [View Full Comment]

     The Buddha's teaching on light and darkness is simple: they depend on each other for their existance. For collective awakening against injustices that affect us all, we need to learn how to transform our feelings of anger, outrage, despair, fear into compassionate and non-violent action if we want this kind of resistance to be effctive. This kind of resistance requires satyagraha or soul force, the fire of determination in our hearts and a willingness to see that we depend on each other even on those whose views are very different form our own.

    Mahatma Ghandhi's civil disobedience or resistance movement  against the unjust British rule of India was based on satyagraha. His satyagraha freedom movement was also based on building up inner resistnace to anger, hatred, fear and despair. Both kinds of resistance come down to our own conscious choices. I learned this great lesson from Gandhiji as a role model and from others folloing his path. Satyagraha as I understand is a soul force, a strong detremination for taking a courageous and non-violent stand against injustice. It is not  like making a deal. I encounter such happenings in our country on a regular basis. I practice satyagraha as enunciated by Mahatma Gandhi.

    When non-compassionate and judgemental thoughts and feelings of resentment and anger arise my mind and heart, I process them mindfully until the heavy clouds of judgemental thoughts and feelings and tense bodily sensations go away from my mind and body. I call it mindfulness cleansing process. With daily practice of this cleansing process the time on holdong on to the inward walls gets shorter and shorter. It is indeed conscious choice making.

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