Carrots, Eggs and Coffee
'A young woman complained to her mother that she was sick of all the difficulties and hardships in her life. She said she was tired of fighting and struggling all the time and that she didn’t know if she could continue to live this way.
In response her mother took her into the kitchen where she proceeded to fill three pans full of boiling water. Into the first she put some carrots, in the second she put some eggs and in the third she placed some ground coffee beans. She let them all boil for 20 minutes without saying a word and then she placed the carrots in a bowl, the eggs in another bowl and the coffee into a jug. She then asked her daughter what she saw. “Carrots, eggs and coffee” the daughter replied.
The mother then asked her daughter to feel the carrots; her daughter did as she was asked and told her mother that they felt soft. Her mother then asked her to peel the egg and feel it; again the daughter did as she was told telling her mother that the egg felt hard. Finally the mother asked her daughter to taste the coffee and her daughter did so commenting that it tasted rich and delicious. “But what does all this mean?” she asked.
Her mother then went on to explain.
She said that each of these objects had faced the same adversity and yet each had reacted differently. The carrot went in strong and hard but came out weak and soft; the egg had gone in fragile but had ended up hard however the coffee after facing the boiling water had actually changed the water.'
When I first read this story I was unsure what to think of it but as I sat with it I realised that it was a story about conflict resolution. Frequently we respond to conflict (the boiling water) with the classic fight or flight response. That is we either harden ourselves against the conflict or remove ourselves from it. This is the habitual response of our bodies and comes from the primitive need to defend ourselves when attacked physically. Of course if the danger we face is real then this is a good strategy to employ however often nowadays the conflict we experience is not a real threat to our safety but rather a response to our thoughts about something that is happening in the world. Because of this the fight or flight response is a somewhat outdated mechanism for dealing with conflict and is no longer the best method of resolving it, rather the opposite in fact.
What we resist – whether by fighting against it or running away from it will continue to persist in some form or other, quite often materialising in our bodies as stress and tension along with all the ill side effects these produce for us.
It is not good to live with stress and tension, on any level be it personal or global. Whether we are after personal health or the health of the world it is imperative that we find a third way to deal with conflict.
The third way is to allow ourselves to be like the coffee in the story – to enter the conflict in such a way as to change it and make it into something good.
But just how do we go about doing this?
The only way to heal conflict is by bringing in peace.
The only way to heal hatred and fear is to bring in love.
The only way to heal sadness is to bring in joy.
Love, peace and joy are all one and the same thing and they are all gifts we receive when we live in-Spirit. It is Spirit that offers us the inspiration to find a different way to resolve conflict. While we stay fixated on our habitual way of responding to life we will block this inspiration from materialising in physical form and so we need to connect with Spirit if we are to find engaging and new ways to deal with conflict.
The world of Spirit is free. Free from boundaries, judgements, thoughts, beliefs, things, attitudes and demands of any kind. Spirit is the free flowing energy of Love that brings all things to life and as such it has no need to conform to anything. At our deepest level we are all Spiritual beings with love as our fundamental nature. All our actions stem from love – they are all an expression of love or a call for love.
Spirit has created a world of diversity and it sees no reason to change this. When we try to make others think the same way as us we go against Spirit. When we have to be right; when we try to make others wrong in order to keep ourselves right and when we refuse to accept differing points of view then we are going against Spirit and therefore blocking the inspiration we need in order to create a more loving response to conflict. We stay stuck in the rut of fight or flight and the old saying that tells us that 'if we always do what we’ve always done then we will always get what we’ve always got' remains true.
Clearly something has to change.
Surely the world has known enough conflict, war, cruelty, abuse and violence? Surely now is the time for the world to experience something different?
In order for this to happen we as individuals have to change.
We cannot expect communities, countries and nations to change if the individuals that compose them stay the same. The work begins here. Now. With ourselves. With you and me.
If there is no peace inside us there will be no peace outside us. If there is no love inside us there will be no love outside us. If there is no joy inside us there will be no joy outside us.
To access Love, Peace and Joy we must cultivate the Spirit within us. It is there for the asking. It has taken me a long time to realise that Love will never push itself onto us. That is not the nature of Love. Love waits for us to return to it. This truth is depicted beautifully in the story of the Prodigal Son found in the bible where the father waits patiently for his wayward son to return home. When we choose to return to our true nature then Spirit welcomes us home and the celebration of our lives can truly begin.
Love is all allowing. Since it created all things it allows all things to exist. So how do we sit and allow what we think is evil to exist in the world? We can only do this by having a change of heart and being willing to perceive things differently and we can only have a change of heart by opening ourselves to Spirit. We need to invite Spirit into our lives if we are to reap the rich rewards it has to offer us. To do this we need to first of all decide which side of the fence we sit on? What is our priority in life? Is it to be right or is it to be loving? Where do we want to place our energies?
We get side tracked by evil. When we watch the news and panic at all the badness we see in the world, we get pulled off course. We think we have to fix things. We think we have to put people right, tell them where they are going wrong, punish them or change them. We fill ourselves with self righteous thoughts, we fill ourselves with fear, we fill ourselves with worry, and all these stop us from connecting with Spirit and therefore they block our ability to bring the transforming power of love to the world. In terms of our story they stop the coffee granules from dissolving into the water to produce the sweet, nourishing drink.
We can't fill ourselves with fear and at the same time fill ourselves with love.
Love is the only thing that can dissolve away hatred, the need for revenge, the need to punish, the need to withdraw or fight. Learning to love is a life long task. It begins on an individual level and expands outwards.
If we don’t believe wholeheartedly that Love is the answer to conflict then we will continually succumb to the fight or flight response and conflict will never be resolved. When faced with evil, conflict, cruelty and injustice our one and only true response must be to increase our ability to be loving. When we meet with evil let us give out more love – to ourselves and to others. Let evil be the catalyst that spurs us on to be more loving. Surely this is the only way to make sense of evil?
This is the change of perspective that living in Spirit brings us – it accepts that evil is there and it is there because it is not evil at all but a heartfelt cry for love.
Meet evil with love and it will change. Shouldn’t we at least give this a try, for what have we got to lose?
The opinions I express here are my own. However I offer them with the word 'syat' next to them. 'Syat' is a word used by the Jain Tribe in India which means 'To the best of my knowledge SO FAR.' In the spirit of openness I invite comments from anyone whether you agree with my point of view or not. In this way we can all learn and grow together. Thank you.