• Throughout this course, we'll look at the underlying causes of conflict and arguments. We'll find that craving and attachment are a "thorn in the heart" resulting in unskilful states of mind. Another factor is the lack of security we find in a constantly shifting world. Even aggression exacerbates the problem, and by taking a hostile stance we may actually be encouraging others to reciprocate similarly. 
  • The reason we act unskilfully is not that we are evil people. We are hurt, and in order to protect ourselves we lash out. The results are often counter-productive.
  • Instead, we will work on building careful communication.
  • We will put the Buddha's solutions to this problem into practice and see the results that these antidotes have on toxic qualities of mind.
  • For the Buddha, quality of mind is crucial. It is fine to disagree with one another considerately but to argue with a hostile, distrusting, or dishonest mind, for example, is detrimental to our own wellbeing and that of others.


  • Take a moment to notice the urge to "get even" in a heated exchange. By hurting the other person, do you actually feel better?
  • If you can resist the temptation to retaliate, hurt, or gain the upper hand, you are training yourself to respond with greater awareness in the future.
  • This doesn't mean that you should become a doormat, allowing people to walk all over you or commit injustices. However, it is often possible to respond with a mindful understanding of the causes and conditions that are influencing your antagonist.
  • Reflect on how fear is born from arming yourself. Does aggression reinforce our fear, making it seem more real and justified?
  • The Buddha's concern is that we safeguard the quality of heart and mind. How will you safeguard your own heart and mind in the coming weeks? Notice when any actions you take shake your equilibrium.
  • You have a choice: to become defensive or to locate and remove the thorn. Find the attachment that is causing pain, and see if you can ease your insistence on it. Small shifts in attitude can result in a dramatic reshaping of our experience.

This is the end of our free preview. Unit 1: The Roots of Dispute is next up. If you haven't already enrolled, join us as we learn how to let go of the causes of conflict.

Complete and Continue