#13: How to Handle Disagreements the Impersonal Way

What is your view about disagreements? Is it healthy or unhealthy? Should people try to just keep agreeing with one another just for the sake of it, or is there something more to see here? Rani and Suraj explore this intriguing subject in this episode. 

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Transcript of the episode

Rani
Just before recording this, something not so funny happened. Suraj and I were trying to record something and we had a conversation about what we wanted to record for the podcast. And then the inevitable happened. We had a disagreement, and we changed the topic of our podcast episode.

It’s not fun, is it? When you have a disagreement. Well, Suraj and I are very passionate about certain areas of life, and especially how we communicate our message. And, it’s really interesting that we were talking about the same thing and yet we came to it from slightly different perspectives. We had a disagreement, and we decided to abandon that and make this episode about disagreeing. disagreements, conflicts within relationships, because that’s really important to address.

And we have no clue where we are going, except that we wanted to speak from the heart and talk about this. And I’m sure we are not alone. I’m sure couples around the world, even if they’re madly in love, and they have been together for a long long time, from time to time will have disagreements. And what does it mean? What does it have to mean?

Suraj
Are we sure, other people are going through it as well?

Rani
And we thought we had passed the point where we would disagree, especially in areas where we both are passionate and see the same way most of the time. And, so this morning when we had this disagreement, I was upset, I was annoyed with Suraj because how could he not see my way, how could he not get it the way I said it and instead wanted to say it his way.

Suraj
I think we are spending too much time in the house together because of the lockdown.

Rani
So, what do you want to say about disagreements? Is it healthy, is it unhealthy? Should people try to just keep agreeing with one another just for the sake of it? Or, is it something to see here? It does feel uncomfortable though I have to say?

Suraj
So, I don’t know, about disagreement – how are you going to define it or anything. It’s probably best not attempted.

Rani
So, how I see disagreement is that I have a line of thinking, I have a belief, and I convey the belief to someone else – say my partner, my loved ones, and they come up with another statement, their way of seeing things, and it doesn’t seem to be in harmony. It seems to be clashing in some ways. And then it’s about me being right. So rather than the other person being right, I might want to be right. So then I defend my statement by example and evidence for the same. And, in a way, I want the other person to agree with my statement, and in a way say: “well, actually, I think you’re right”.

Suraj
So, what seems evident is people can be right from their own viewpoints. So if five people are sort of arguing about one thing and trying to reach consensus, there will be five different perspectives to start with, of course, and there comes a point when you either zone in on one single idea about how to resolve a situation. Or you stay in your own positions. What is right, what is wrong? – I think that’s interesting, isn’t it? So, there’s something about the ‘person’, there’s something about the ego-self then that holds a line and wants to see that through, getting the world to agree with them.

Rani
If not the whole world, at least their small world which is their immediate other half or family member…

Suraj
Their immediate social bubble if you like.

How do you see what goes on then? I suppose that’s the tricky question when you’re going through a very heated sort of argument or experience of disagreeing with someone.

Rani
So we talk about thoughts, being in disguise, and thoughts will come to us present to us as the truth, will present to the person as – this is the truth, what you’re thinking is the truth. And to see beyond that, and to know that just because we are having a thought that we really believe in, that we are passionate about, doesn’t mean it’s the absolute truth. And it’s an idea, t seems like a grand idea, but maybe with more evidence, or are open to hearing other viewpoints, we’ll see that that thought doesn’t hold so much truth anymore.

Suraj
And there’s also something to be said about whether the ego is capable of finding the truth.

Rani
So here we are talking about two levels of truth. The surface level of truth is dynamic. It keeps changing, depending on what thought comes to us, how we say things in that moment, how we want to be right. And depending on the evidence presented to us, we might change the mind. And so all disagreements or even agreements are based on the dynamic thinking, those beliefs that keep changing depending on what we see in that moment. And when we deal with conflicts at the workplace, conflicts at home, rather than trying to resolve the conflict or the disagreement there and then, just look at the dynamic nature of our thinking, of our beliefs, of the statement that we might have just made. And, what we’ll find is that that’s only the personal truth, the dynamic truth, and not the absolute truth.

Suraj
If it’s the dynamic truth, it’s not worth clinging onto, isn’t it, nothing to be gained from doing that?

Rani
Yeah, only more suffering, isn’t it? I mean, he could carry you on and I could have said, “Right, I was absolutely right, Suraj is wrong”. So unless he comes and says…I was right though. Yeah, there you go. So he still hasn’t changed his mind. So, on one level we could wait for the other person to come to us or we could think – okay, I need to go and tell them they’re wrong or you know, I compromise. I think the beauty is that, of course, there will need to be some sort of conversation and communication. But the more you see, the more you keep checking in, that yes, my thoughts, my beliefs come and go. The more you see that the content of thinking keeps changing, they are dynamic, there’s something that doesn’t change. You can call this stillness, we’re talking about stillness that’s always there, it’s already there. And, when we have conflicts, rather than trying to quieten our mind, when we allow the mind to get still, the mind will get still in his own time because the mind also belongs to that still place. And when we are not tampering with the mind, so to speak, the mind will quieten, because it will fall back into that quiet space.

Suraj
All it needs, often is time, isn’t it? For the mind to be allowed to dissolve into its stillness that it is part of.

Rani
People might say, but how do I do it? And this is where we talk about indulging in the ordinary, meaning doing whatever you’re doing, but only sort of indulging in that. For example, if you are sipping a cup of tea, just sip a cup of tea rather than think of what happened or the next thing to do. If you’re going back to your work desk and writing an email, just write an email. So in other words, the more we are present to whatever activity we are doing in the moment, and allowing the mind to do what it needs to do. Like Suraj said, in its own time, the mind will get quiet. It doesn’t need our help to get quiet.

Suraj
And, then we make this wondrous discovery, don’t we – that our minds, that our personal egos, it doesn’t need to defend truth, the absolute truth. The nature of it is – it just is.

Rani
I love it. The mind does not have to defend truth. And yet, there we go, trying to defend our personal truth. Needing to be right, needing approval, hating disagreements…wow that’s freeing! Mind doesn’t need to defend truth. You do say some wise words from time to time, Suraj.

Suraj
Look, I was right.

Rani
Only this time. All right, we need to stop there.