Your How To Source: Issues of Value, Ethics, Human Needs and Deeds Edited by Heinz Dinter, PhD
Conflict Resolution Breaks Ground in Your Heart (2008-02-01)
What does it take to savor peace of mind living? Instead of litigation choose mediation and settle disputes amicably. Avoiding judicial interference is not only possible it is feasible.
Dispute resolution processes fall into two major types:
(1) Adjudicative processes, such as litigation or arbitration, in which a judge, jury or arbitrator determines the outcome.
(2) Consensual processes, such as collaborative law, mediation, conciliation, or negotiation, in which the parties attempt to reach agreement.
Mediation, a form of conflict resolution, aims to assist two or more disputants in reaching an agreement. Whether an agreement results or not, and whatever the content of that agreement, if any, the parties themselves determine — rather than accepting something imposed by a third party. The disputes may involve states, organizations, communities, individuals or other representatives with a vested interest in the outcome.
Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.
(Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta,
The Gift of an Enemy
A teaching of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
In one way, having an enemy is very bad. It disturbs our mental peace and destroys some of our good things. But if we look at it from another angle, only an enemy gives us an opportunity to practice patience. No one else provides us with the opportunity for tolerance. Since we do not know the majority of the more than six billion human beings on this earth, therefore the majority of people do not give us an opportunity to show tolerance or patience either. Only those people whom we know and who create problems for us really provide us with a good opportunity to practice tolerance and patience.
Shantideva, the 8th-century Indian Buddhist scholar, says that it is the very intention of harming us which makes the enemy very special. If the enemy had no intention of harming us, then we would not classify that person as an enemy, therefore our attitude would be completely different. It is his or her very intention of harming us which makes that person an enemy and because of that the enemy provides us with an opportunity to practice tolerance and patience. Therefore, an enemy is indeed a precious teacher. By thinking along these lines, you can eventually reduce the negative mental emotions, particular hatred. Hatred is the ultimate enemy.
• Voluntary and confidential.
• A process in which the parties decide the outcome
• A constructive framework for dealing with difficult issues.
• A way to prevent or reduce litigation.
The Mediator’s Role
The mediator is a neutral third-party. The mediator does not decide the dispute or impose a decision on the parties. The mediator’s job is to assist the parties to reach a fuller understanding of the situation, and arrive at an agreement that is mutually acceptable to them.
Benefits of Mediation
• Mediation is faster and considerably less expensive than litigation or arbitration.
• In mediation, the parties retain control over the outcome of the dispute.
• Mediation is a cooperative, rather than adversarial, process. Parties have an opportunity to talk openly and constructively, with the assistance of the mediator. The focus is on moving forward and finding resolution, rather than assigning blame. Thus, ongoing relationships can be preserved, and even improved, through this process.
• Mediation is not limited by rules of evidence or legal relevance. All issues important to the parties, whether legal or non-legal, can be discussed.
• Mediation is flexible. We can fashion creative solutions that would not be possible in court.
• Parties are free to have attorneys with them during mediation, but are not required to do so.
• By far, most cases are settled through mediation, usually in less than a day.
What Would Gandhi Do? A Lesson in Applied Spirituality
Mohandas Gandhi was one of the most influential human beings in history. He successfully fought discrimination and political oppression on two continents, and inspired other great leaders of our time, including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Dalai Lama. How did this man of modest beginnings inspire so many and accomplish so much?
After studying law in England, Gandhi spent 20 years in South Africa fighting institutionalized racism. Gandhi held fast to the truth that all human beings are equal. His strategy was simple: he refused to cooperate with inequitable laws. He helped organize fellow Indians living in South Africa, leading numerous marches, community meetings, and boycotts. He was imprisoned on numerous occasions and was steadfast in his willingness to sacrifice his freedom, and even his life, if necessary.
After negotiating a breakthrough settlement in South Africa, Gandhi returned to a hero’s welcome in his homeland, India. His fellow Indians called him “Mahatma,” meaning great soul. He became an ardent leader for the rights and equality of all human beings, fighting to abolish the “untouchable” class in the Hindu caste system and advocating for equal rights of women. Above all, Gandhi committed himself to the legendary and successful campaign for India’s independence from Great Britain which he pursued unwaveringly over the next thirty years.
In the face of his amazing accomplishments, it is stunning that Gandhi never held a political office or official title. He began his career as a lawyer, but later disavowed his profession and claimed as his occupation “farmer and weaver.” While others clamored for power and wealth, Gandhi chose a path of renunciation, choosing to live amongst the poor, and to serve them.
What is remarkable about Gandhi is not his accomplishments, although they are extraordinary. What is truly remarkable are the means through which Gandhi achieved these results. Gandhi was not a political ideologue, and he was not motivated by personal ambition. Rather, his life was devoted to a spiritual quest. Gandhi’s sole goal was to “come face to face with God.” Everything he did was in pursuit of that goal.
Gandhi’s gift to the world was in applying the spiritual truth of love and nonviolence to political and social struggles. He recognized that all of the ancient religions convey the same essential truths; that love, truth and nonviolence are synonymous with each other, and synonymous with God. Gandhi wrote in his autobiography, aptly named The Story of My Experiments with Truth: “My life consists of nothing but experiments with truth … Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could do. Life and its problems have thus become to me so many experiments in the practice of truth and nonviolence …”
As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in Stride Toward Freedom: “Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale.” King concluded: “If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. We may ignore him at our own risk.”
Shortly before his assassination in 1948, Gandhi was asked by a journalist to sum up his message for the world.
For years, Gandhi spent one day a week in silence, no matter how many people had come to meet him. This was a day of silence, so he grabbed a pencil, wrote a few words, and passed on the paper, “My life is my message,” it said.
Gandhi’s life and teachings are as relevant today as ever, especially in the field of conflict resolution.
Above all, Gandhi challenges us to apply our deepest values in all aspects of our lives and, in so doing, to explore what is possible as a result. He challenges us to test the power of love, to discover that love is the essence of life, and the essence of every human being. He calls upon us to conduct our own experiments with truth, love and nonviolence.
Gandhi left us with these thoughts: “The only devils in this world are those running around in our own hearts and that is where all our battles should be fought.”
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