Conflicts always point to situations related to destiny irrespective of whether they are internal or external conflicts. Their origin lies in the soul, in the spirit, in the consciousness – even if the dispute is about external things. Because even in disputes about external things mindsets, attitudes and feelings about these things are involved. Conflicts have something oppressive – they do not let us go. They are connected to us – even if they appear to come from outside. I feel under pressure – from myself, from others, from the situation as a whole. I know that something has to happen. I have to act, I cannot continue living like this.
Every situation related to destiny is connected with beings. It addresses me as a being, it confronts me with other beings, human beings, persons. If I want to resolve the conflict I have to identify the being that stands behind this conflict. “Something” is at work which I cannot yet see. I can only identify it by its positive or negative effects. It is as if I were in a dark room, as if I were blind; I notice that something is touching me which I cannot see. The touch might be pleasant or unpleasant. I cannot perceive anything more.
If I want to act, if I want to perceive what it is that touches me, I have to identify it. Perhaps such knowledge might be unpleasant; perhaps it is a kind of monster whose touch is, however, experienced as pleasant by myself. Or conversely, something touches me unpleasantly but behind it a “good” being is concealed to prevent me falling into the abyss.
Once I have identified the being, once I have perceived what its intentions are, only then can I start to resolve a conflict. Knowledge of the being is the key to the task which I am set by a difficult situation, a crises, an illness or conflict.
Rudolf Steiner described paths to achieve such knowledge about beings. What is essential, even if difficult, is to establish an inner calm in the face of the conflict and to face up to the trigger of the conflict in me – be it a situation or a person. I have to attempt to characterise the conflict. Whatever it is that is acting unpleasantly (or pleasantly) on me has to become an object of perception for me.
Such perception should be as precise as possible. If I am in conflict with another person, I place them before me in all their nuances, expressions and gestures. I create an image of what has upset me so much. If I do that intensively enough, I can notice how I liberate myself from the role of victim. I put myself in the place of the actor, the perpetrator. I experience the intentions of the actor. Now “new” feelings occur which I would not otherwise have perceived.
Once I start to experience the moral intentions of my counterpart or of the being, then I experience something of their character. And I learn to make a distinction between this character and what is still at work between us. It is important to look at this third element. Because in conflicts it is not only the emotions of the people involved in them at work but also something that feeds off them and escalates the differences of opinion or of views, which uses those involved in order to come to expression through them. These forces are something connected with beings.
Steiner described such beings who feed off the human willingness to engage in conflict. If we succeed in making them visible, it is like meeting old acquaintances.
Three realms can be distinguished in what lives between the souls in the dispute: on the one hand the realm of the nature beings, the elemental beings and the beings in technology. They act as if they have been programmed, they are forced to act as they do. The second realm comprises the living, unborn and deceased human beings. The perception of these beings is different, we feel a kind of human affinity with them. Then there is a third large realm of spiritual beings with creative will. They are distinguished by size, strength and power. It includes the hierarchies of angels but also Lucifer und Ahriman.
We can therefore experience in a conflict not just the moral intentions of our counterpart but also the spiritual entities which seek to take possession of it. The differentiating view of the overall situation creates in a delicate process a kind of complementary intention of will in us – metaphorically: the colour green arises in addition of the colour red. This complementary intention is an image of our balancing task in a conflict. Now it is a matter of developing this task, this intention of will in such a way that it corresponds to the external situation. If we also include this then it liberates us from the entanglement with those forces whose only interest lies in the escalation or cementing of conflicts.
A concrete example: a women has a strong desire for a second child after the first one was born with extreme complications after artificial fertilisation. But now this route has been closed off as well. The wish for a child is nevertheless great. The woman is beset by this wish. What is her task? Should she yield to the wish, should she put it aside? Here we have the conflict, in this case within her.
Here, too, the question is what stands behind this conflict? What is the actual conflict, what is her task?
The woman now proceeds along the path as described, places the situation outside herself, opposite herself. In this case the memory of the death of her own mother when the woman was about to enter puberty appears.
She experiences inwardly how she was still completely enveloped by her mother’s soul body. Her mother’s premature death tore her out of it, her own soul body could not fully develop. The death of her mother prevented the birth of her own soul. Puberty never came to conclusion so that her reproductive ability became restricted down as far as the physical body. The task is now clear: how can she continue and catch up on the birth of her own soul body?
How can that happen? I experience the task as an impulse of will. How can I make this impulse of will so strong that it can become effective in the concrete, specific situation?
I can only succeed in this if I also recognise in this impulse of will a powerful being. And I can address this being as my higher I into which my everyday I is embedded. My task, then, is to maintain the connection with this higher I in my impulse of will. If I enter into a dialogue with his higher I, then I am able to recognise what wanted to come to expression in the original wish.
Once I have trodden this path, I am able to proceed along it again each day to maintain this connection. Every day I have to build up this experience and let it act. This dialogue with the higher I will restructure my constitution down into the physical body.
We can proceed like this in every situation. It could just as well be a social problem or a national conflict. The attempt should always be undertaken to connect with this higher I from which the healing impulses in our own will arise. I cannot bring about peace if I do not experience it within myself as substance.
About the author: Armen Tõugu is a priest in the Christian Community in Stuttgart-Sillenbuch. This contribution is based on an interview with Ariane Eichenberg and Mathias Maurer.