Article: An Autopoietic Conflict Model (English)
The next and final step: to compassion

Although perhaps it may seem strange, this is the only and ultimate way to really solve the real, the internal conflict. To show this I make a detour while some of the previous arguments again will pass in review.

I suggested that a perturbation that gives rise to an internal processing that controls the behavior is ultimately not so important. It is the internal processing that counts. The perturbation can be even illusory. In the example of the just married couple, this might easily be the case. The husband sees his wife talk and his jealousy steers him into a conflict. All magical tricks and circus acts are based on this principle of illusion: the system itself (you!) can not distinguish between fact and fiction. That is why these things are so exciting. This is also why dreams can be so frightening.

What happens is that upon a perceived perturbation, fact or fiction, the system will start an internal operation. What will be the outcome is unknown, until it comes into consciousness. It was processed by the system as a whole, before the result came in consciousness. The time between the stimulus and the outcome of the internal operation can be seconds, days, or even longer. It follows that the system itself does not exist in the conscious or unconscious as standalone elements, but as a whole that encompasses both. Modern psychological research shows among other things that the subconsciousness is much more competent in solving intricate puzzles than the consciousness is. The conscious part is only suitable for very simple actions and complex decisions are most of the time badly made with the conscious part.[36] Everyone knows that it can happen that the answer to a difficult problem, as it were was created from nothing. Suddenly, under the shower, in the woods, by a side note from another person, suddenly the solution to a problem is there. Great Nobel Prize winning discoveries have been made in this way. In the theory of autopoiesis the consciousness has always been seen as an interface between the system (to which it belongs) and the environment.[37]

We also all know of the situation that it may sometimes seem that the consciousness is not able to cope with a situation and that the body takes over. Sometimes it is the fight or flight response, but we also all know that it happened that at one point the situation was so that the body took over, as it were, and you got the feeling at that time that it is not quite the right way, which later turned out to be so indeed. This proves that the conscious part can sometimes not cope with the situation and leaves this to a deeper layer. However, because at that time this deeper layer also does not have time to contrive what is to be done as a good reaction, it acts with what is the most easy at hand in the repertoire of conduct. It may be that people start slapping, cursing, and so forth, and essentially these uncontrolled reactions show that the system has some kind of overload en can not cope with the situation.

Usually there is some time for processing and then the processing in the unconscious gives rise to chemical / hormonal / electrical reactions in the body that appear in consciousness in all kinds of emotions and feelings.[38], [39] Usually the person does not become flooded so much that he loses his wits. What’s going on is that the emotions and feelings that come into his consciousness – and they are always unpleasant to negative emotions and feelings, – give rise to a search for the reason why he has those feelings and emotions. And because it is certain that he has these feelings and emotions, he will hold these as being true. These feelings and emotions are true for the system, just as the illusion of magic tricks, and therefore he goes on a search for reasons why he feels what he feels.

The next step is a simple cause and effect mechanism. I’ll give another example. Because you have just read a letter (or whatever as a perturbation is present), and now you feel very angry, it is the content of this letter, which causes it and you become angry with its author. In the case of the couple: As the husband saw his wife talking with an ex and he felt jealous, this feeling must be justified. And because feelings are “true”, they are projected on the person or situation that this “obviously” has caused. We are feeling people and then we only begin to think, most of the time when it is too late, so it seems.[40] But if you look closer at the situation the projection is only that person’s link to one of his own human vices and as a result the invented cause is most certainly fictitious. The story of Fred and Allan shows this. But it is very difficult to reach this conclusion.

There is a way out of this maze. As mentioned, a very special human characteristic is that humans are not only conscious, but also self-conscious. As far as is known now, animals do not have this faculty of self-consciousness, or have it in a rudimentary form. Self-consciousness makes it possible to look at yourself, to witness your own internal processes and also your own actions. In ordinary life you are fully conscious, but that consciousness operates rarely in the mode of self-awareness. The difference is crucial. In self-awareness, you can make descriptions in language of the current state of your own system. Nobody else can do that, because this is an internal operation. I am convinced that we humans are only capable by this trait to learn much faster from our own mistakes. Once you have found out yourself that these feelings and emotions in conflict are entirely subjective, and acting upon them is a choice, then, when you look in self-consciousness into the operation of your system, it is possible to “feed back this knowledge” in the system to compensate for the perturbation. This is done in a simple way when I wrote earlier that in the case of the car incident, one could think that the driver who cuts you is in a hurry on his way to his dying mother. When this is done deliberately, the system will interpret this as knowledge and the this is a very good compensation for the perturbation. It does not really have to be true, but it helps to calm and not let your emotions overpower you. This is not easy in the beginning, but my experience is that with exercise you do not need to see the other as an adversary or enemy, but you can see him as a friend and not have to put him down as a lesser person, as is often done. This does not mean that you may not with all your strength resist what you see as wrong. But this will be done in a very different state of mind, namely the state of I-You.

This may seem very unrealistic until you try it, but still, the logic of my theory says this and the experience is that it works this way.

If you can see your adversary in the conflict in the State of I-You regardless of any “facts” of the conflict, because the very emotional feelings are removed before they take root, your dispute with your opponent will not be ended immediately, but the conflict will be solved much more easily in yourself, and therafter also the external situation that was the seemingly reason for starting the conflict. After some training, these feelings and emotions often do not occur again. You are able to see the situation better, just as it is, without the blinders of feelings and emotions. This is not esoteric stuff, but the simple result of some simple practices and (as it should be) common knowledge.

If this operation is successfully completed, the person can face any situation or conflict without becoming involved in a personal way. In the case of the just married couple, he might think, “How wonderful she can communicate with people, even with him. I’m a lucky guy!”. Or in other cases, such as the conflict between the neighbours, they may not like it, but they do not have to get emotionally involved.

When this is the case, a situation or conflict will no longer be seen as a threat, as an unsafe environment, but just one of the things that happen in life. The opponent is no longer another, an “it”, that can / should be treated as a thing, an obstacle, but a “You”, who is equal to yourself, with whom a relationship of reciprocity is threatened, but that has nothing to do with his essential equivalence as a human being.[41], [42]

With this realisation comes compassion, but not in the way of pity. This could be a feeling of superiority and this would miss the point completely. What I’m trying to say is that it’s impossible not to feel compassion for an opponent, because essentially he is you. This compassion works in both directions, including towards yourself. This is what all the great wisdom teachers have said and they are right!

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