Recently one of my cousins posted this quotation as his FB status: ”You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” – Friedrich Nietzsche. It prompted the following discussion in the comments:
LW: I do believe in the concepts of right and wrong in some instances, though. We are plagued with the notion of moral relativism in our society. Things aren’t all the same.
Me: I agree with you on our society having gone too far in regarding morality as relative. However, I do think that everyone does have their own “way”, or path, and there can never be only one particular path that’s correct. Although each person’s path is their own, if we are all authentic in following our own path, we will necessarily converge toward an authentic, i.e., true morality and an inherently just society. William S. Hatcher does a very good job of arguing this, from a Baha’i perspective, in his book Love, Power, and Justice: The Dynamics of Authentic Morality.
LW: You’re correct there. Always be skeptical of those that profess to know the “only” way to go!
As a result of this discussion, in light of a recent post, I woke up the next morning with a bunch of new connections between my thoughts about conflict and reality:
The reason I could say that everyone’s unique path must eventually converge, is that there is only one reality.
It’s one of those things that is so difficult to fully comprehend even though it sounds so simple and obvious. What makes it difficult is our tendency to believe that our own perception of reality is closer to the actual reality than anyone else’s.
We are all, naturally, more attached to our own version of reality than anyone else’s. This attachment restrains us from advancing along our own path toward true reality. Progress comes more easily when we develop the ability to see that our perception is just that: our perception, and not actual reality. As each person has a unique perception of reality, so must each person find their own unique path. What Buddhism describes as enlightenment is not just a detachment from the self (i.e., our own perceptions), it is the attachment to reality which that detachment enables.
It means there is no possibility of conflict, within reality itself. Conflicts can only consist of differences in perceptions of reality. This is the essence of non-duality: nothing is in true conflict with anything else because it is all part of the same reality. Thus, all conflict is actually a signal that people are not perceiving true reality. This is why conflict is so valuable, and so important to resolve peacefully. We need to know when our perception of reality is distorted, and conflict can provide us with that awareness. Resolving the conflict means both parties advance along their path toward a true perception of reality. The closer we all bring our perceptions to reality, the more peaceful our lives will be. In contrast, violence always causes both parties to regress along their path, meaning, to hold perceptions farther from the true reality. This is why violence leads so easily to more violence – it actually increases conflict, rather than resolving it!