“Turn your textbooks to page 52 please” a deep and loud male voice sounded through the classroom. Through the window bits of dust danced around in the spotlight of daylight. One by one the flipping of pages overruled the sound of chattering and babbling and the room became quiet. The chalk made a scribbling and squeaking sound as the teacher wrote down the words ‘War is Necessary for us Humans to Progress’. The students bumped each other on the shoulder and started whisper and murmur. “Quiet please.” The male voice of the teacher sounded again. This time more quiet and polite. He turned around and looked into the classroom. He had cut brown hair that flowed seamlessly into his beard and beautifully curled Italian mustache. Two girls in the back of the classroom giggled and even blushed a bit. The teacher sighed “Everyone at page 52?” He asked, with an affectionate smile on his face. He was excited about today’s topic and he had been preparing this lesson for a week now. “Yes,” Some of the students muttered as they rested their heads on their hands. A clear sign of disinterest, but this wasn’t influencing the teacher’s excitement a single bit. He clapped in his hands’ ones and fumbled around with his chalk. His fingers were covered in the white powder that was seemed to be covering the entire classroom. It was dusty and smelled like an old library. “Throughout our history, we have conjured wars. Starting way back fighting wars between clans, with the price of more profitable lands. Too religious wars to prove that there was only one God. To wars proving to be the strongest race in humankind. Until recent years were only a hand full of full-blown wars have been occurring mostly about religion and out of rebellion against the reigning forces. So you could say that wars have been slowly declining and are maybe at the brink of extinction. We have agreed and signed contracts to protect one another. We have created unions with other countries to not start a war again, yet I doubt if this has changed the use of war as a tool for peace.” Some of the students released an audible sigh and sank deeper into their chairs. “But to say that wars should be extinguished would be a direct objection to the way nature functions. As well as using wars as a means of achieving peace is a clear objection to the way nature works.” “Wait a minute!” A girl in the middle of the classroom blankly staring at her textbook and listened to what the teacher was saying said. She was wearing a black bulky jacket in which she was hiding away. She was fiddling around with a pencil as her other hand stroked and twisted her black glossy hair dangling from one shoulder. This statement the teacher was making about the function of wars in the progress of humankind wasn’t true. History didn’t interest her a single bit, but what her teacher was preaching of right now was clearly bullshit. How could wars be necessary and why is he saying that we use wars as a tool for peace. We don’t use wars as a tool of peace, our governments are intervening to make sure things don’t go the other way and become a full out raging war in the entire world. She thought to herself. She politely raised her hand after at first interrupting her teacher. “Yes?” The teacher said in a questioning and polite tone of voice. “I don’t think you are making any sense. You make wars sound like they are just some simple thing happening. Something we can not do and still achieve peace. But we can’t, if we don’t intervene the wars will only get worse. And that they are a good thing that happened to humankind. That we should never strive to eradicate the earth from wars. It’s not making any sense” She said, objecting to the teacher’s statements about war. “You’re clearly listening, thank you for that. But yes I am. I am making a statement that we can never and should never try to eradicate the earth from wars.” He said. “But doesn’t the bible say that there will be a day when there will be peace on earth for everyone? Where all of mankind can live in peace with each other, nature and animals?” She asked. “It does, but the way you interpret this text out of the Bible is of utter importance here.” He answered. “How could you interpret this a different way? It says so clearly that we should strive for peace on earth and wars aren’t peace so we should make sure that we get rid of those!” She was getting annoyed. She frowned and was gripping the pencil she was holding tighter with the minute. “You can interpret this differently. You should ask yourself the following question: is peace achieved by fighting wars with more violence or is peace, true peace” He repeated emphasizing the words ‘true peace’. “Achieved with the use of non-violence by not seeing war as a bad thing but by seeing it as something to learn from? Isn’t that when we reach a complete state of peace?” The teacher stayed quiet and waited for a response. “You are making no sense to me.” The girl said, a few of the other students who were actively paying attention to the conversations nodded and mumbled in agreement. “Why am I not making any sense?” He asked. “Well because you are telling me that war is a good thing, that we shouldn’t strive to eradicate it, nor that we should strive to start it. How is this possible? It sounds like we should just be inactive. Neither starting war, nor ending it. That way the entire race will go to doom won’t it?” The girl was now clearly agitated with the teacher’s provocative lesson. “That’s a good statement you are making there. Anyone wanting to add onto it before I answer it?” “Ughh” The girl felt mocked. As if her objection was an easy statement for the teacher to answer. As if she was less than he was. The teacher simply ignored her.
Force or freedom?
No one answered or raised their hand, as usual. So the teacher continued his argument with the girl. “You asked me how and why we should neither start war nor eradicate it. Right?” He asked. “Yes, I did.” She answered frustrated. “Let me give you a different example of this. What if you got a bad grade, like an F or something. Which approach would you prefer to be treated with? With the first one you are forced to learn more, I will be hard and rigged making sure you learn each day for at least an hour in my classroom and make sure you will do your homework afterward. If you don’t I will punish you for not doing it, or not paying good enough attention. Would you like that?” He asked the girl. “Of course not, it’s not motivating me in any way to do the right thing. I will most likely not learn a thing from your lessons because out of rebellion I will only stay quiet, pretending to be listening to you.” She answered her teacher looking at him straight in the eyes. The teacher saw anger and frustration within her blue and green eyes. He knew he was on the right path because of this. The truth is always unsettling, and only those who object will truly understand it. That’s why we react in anger. We object to the truth only to later realize that it was the right thing. That’s the purpose of anger, to try and resist discomfort, but as anger fades the discomfort is transformed into acceptance and understanding. Therefore the truth can now be used by the one who refused it at first. He felt a sense of pride for this girl and hoped she would stay till the end, she was transforming from her pain and discomfort into a blooming flower.
We object to the truth only to later realize that it was the right thing. That’s the purpose of anger, to try and resist discomfort, but as anger fades the discomfort is transformed into acceptance and understanding. Therefore the truth can now be used by the one who refused it at first.
“Okay, then the second approach. Instead of punishing and forcing you to do it, I will set you free. I will not intervene with your way of learning. I will only ask an occasional question, whether I could help you or not. I will as much as I can try to positively reinforce you to do your best, no matter the outcome. And I will express my gratitude if you come up to me and want to learn what you did wrong. In short, I will choose to uplift you and encourage you. Would you prefer this approach?” The girl rolled her eyes. “Of course I would. But this has nothing to do with war and your statement that war is neither something we should start nor something we should eradicate. This is something completely outside of the topic. In war, we kill people, in a classroom we don’t. A bad grade won’t hurt me, like a bullet to the shoulder would.” She objected. “Would it? Wouldn’t you feel frustrated? Annoyed? Sad? Or ashamed? Wouldn’t you feel any mental pain? You might not feel physical pain, but you might feel it within your body in feelings and thoughts. Isn’t that suffering as well? And if I were to force you I would only increase that sense of suffering and pain wouldn’t it?” The teacher smiled and this annoyed the girl. He was only trying to be kind and patient, but to her, it felt like he was mocking her in front of the entire classroom. Publicly shaming her. “Why are you picking on me?” She said furiously. “I am not, I am only trying to help you understand why we need this duality of both war and peace to reach this state of heaven on earth.” He answered patiently. “No you are not, you are trying to publicly shame me. Making me feel shit about myself because I am wrong and you are right.” She grabbed her bag and pushed in her book and notepad. She got up and forcefully pushed her chair against the wooden table. “Where are you going?” The teacher asked, in the most polite way possible. “Away.” She simply answered. “I am sorry you feel this way. I do not want to mock you in front of the class. I think you are very brave and that only you will…” He was roughly interrupted by the slam of the door. The girl wasn’t gonna turn around. The teacher sat down in his chair muttering the rest of the sentence “…understand the truth in this matter.” “Class is dismissed.” He said. And the rest of the class got up and grabbed their books and notebooks, happily chatting as if nothing had happened. The teacher on the other hand sank into his chair as if he had just done something seriously wrong. Instead of the girl feeling ashamed, he was feeling ashamed. Had he just been mocking the girl? He sat there for the remaining time of the class and when the bell rang he got up. Grabbed his messenger bag and left the building.
War is progress
That night the teacher thought about what happened during class. He realized how the girl must have felt. He was too focused on her whilst the rest of the classroom was watching and listening. To him, this was just another conversation, a fun conversation trying to understand her and hoping to make her understand his view. He forgot that to her this felt like she was trying to object to me whilst her friends were there with her. She was publicly being shamed by him and he understood why. No one would like to be proven wrong in front of an entire room full of people. So she was right to leave, to get up and slam that door. He was wrong. Then everything clicked. He was not practicing what he preached. He wanted to show that duality was needed, that there was no way we could or should eradicate something and he was trying to. He was trying to eradicate the girl her view on the matter. He was continually trying to change her view, whilst she wasn’t ready. But he knew that he was on the right path, she was getting angry which showed him she was trying to grasp the matter. So in truth, he was doing the right thing he now understood that duality meant that there was no right or wrong. He understood even more what he was trying to preach.
The girl too was thinking of what had happened in class. She was thinking of the teacher’s view on war. How it could neither be eradicated nor should be used. It just didn’t make any sense to her. But his comparison with bad grades and trying to force her or free her started to make sense. It indeed wasn’t about forcefully trying to change the outcome. So starting a war or intervening in the war was, just like trying to forcefully make someone learn, not going to work in the long term. It might change the situation right now, but the people in that war will not have learned the right way to deal with conflict. Much rather they would have learned that conflict should be treated with anger and violence. Especially the kids growing up in these wars.
The two went to bed and met again in the morning that followed. The following morning they had the second lesson of history class of that week. Both of them were nervous and both of them wanted to continue on the topic. So as they entered the classroom they awkwardly ignored each other. Making eye contact but not saying a word. “Okay everyone let’s turn your books to page 52 again.” The words the teacher wrote on the chalkboard were still visible. “I want to make my apologies to all of you for my strong reaction in yesterday’s class. Especially to you.” He turned towards the girl and smiled at her. “I hope you can forgive me, but I do want to continue on the topic that we discussed yesterday. I hope you will still join me in the argument because it is only through this argument that not only you but the entire classroom will understand this. Will you still join me in our conversation?” He asked bravely. The girl hesitated for a moment but knew that she had to understand it before she could let go of the matter entirely. “I will.” She said with a slight grin on her face. She liked the teacher, he was kind and patient with all of them. He had always been, and she had learned a lot from him. Not only about history, but about the lessons she could take away from history and use it in her day to day life.
“Good! So yesterday we left off on the duality of getting what you want through force or freedom. We discussed how I could use force to make you learn more, and how I could use freedom and encouragement to stimulate your grades. We both agreed that the second was the right approach to this. But you didn’t understand how this correlated to wars and why we need wars. This is okay because this is tough matter to understand. It’s counterintuitive and contradicting to what you will hear outside of this classroom. That’s why I find it so incredibly courageous of you to continue in this conversation with me.” “Thank you.” The girl said softly. “What we are talking about here is the importance of duality and our approach to it. You see getting bad grades is a problem that we would like to solve, we would want to get higher grades but to be honest, we need those bad grades to learn and in the end get the good grades we want. That’s why I made this comparison to wars. Wars are like bad grades, you don’t want them but they do lead to better results. What’s most important is our approach to getting those better results. That’s why I say that we should neither strive to eradicate wars nor start them. We should find a different solution to our conflicts in life. Do you understand me thus far?” He asked. “I do, but I don’t understand why we can’t solve the conflict by sending an army to a warzone to intervene? Could you maybe tell me why you think we shouldn’t do that?” The teacher gently smiled and nodded. “I can. If we would send an army there to intervene we will try to eradicate the problem by continuing with spreading violence and force. You see if you got these bad grades and I would end up forcing you to learn more and you wouldn’t want that, the two of us would be entangled in a constant battle for the power of the other. Now a third teacher would intervene, he would choose aside and try to force the other into the direction that his partner was trying to go. So if another teacher would intervene and choose my approach we would force you into learning more, but would that change you?” The teacher awaited her answer. “No, it would not. Well, yes maybe a bit. I wouldn’t object anymore and I would study more and do my homework so in some sense it would work. I would get better grades but as soon as I leave school I will not be enthused to learn anything more, because my experience with learning is transformed by both you and the other teacher. It would never feel like free will, it would only feel like a forced thing even when I would want to do it. So in truth, if you would force me to learn I would at that moment but in the long run, I will not learn anything else and start to harm myself for it.” “Yes, unless you have the strength to confront this problem yourself and change it so you do start to learn new things.” The teacher intervened. “Right!” The girl answered. “So what you are saying is that no mattered what starting a war would only keep the problem alive in the long run. Wait I get it!” She said joyously. “If we neither start wars nor eradicate them we can start to learn from them, don’t we? Just like I can learn to do my best and get better grades. If you would not start a war over the fact that I should study, nor eradicate that I should study you take the stance of positive reinforcement and encouragement. Is that what you are trying to show me?” The teacher got up from his chair and picked up the chalk from his desk. He underlined the words ‘war’ and ‘progress’ on the chalkboard. “Exactly!” He said with a tear in his eye. He blinked before turning back to the students so they wouldn’t see he was touched by the transformation. “We need this duality of both good and bad and the struggle that comes from it in order to grow. Only we can choose to not see it as a struggle by choosing the right approach to solving it and that is exactly what you explained to us so clearly just now.”
Getting rid of the bad will not cut it
“We most of the time use words like ‘getting rid’ or ‘eradicating’ or ‘overcoming’ when we want things to be better than they are. We want to get rid of the bad in order to feel good. That’s why we start wars because we want something and something is getting in our way. Instead of accepting this conflict and trying to find the right approach to dealing with it, we choose the easy approach. Which is to use force to get there. It will get the results in the quickest way possible. But in the end, this will not have changed anything, it will only have pushed the problem further down. We can not get rid of the negativity in the world, we can not force it away. We can choose our perspective on this negativity and therefore transform it into positive and that is exactly the way nature is intended to be. Nature is not meant to get rid of things, but rather to transform them into something better. So our approach of getting rid of war is contradicting to the way nature is intended to be. By accepting war as it is, knowing that it is there to teach us something we can start to transform it entirely. Not by force but patient and deliberate focus on encouraging the desired behavior from the bottom up. Like I would encourage you when you approached me or asked me a question. I would encourage everything you do right, everything that I think isn’t the right approach I will not judge. I will only ask you if you think it is the right approach. If you think it is, I will slowly chip away on this belief and try to change it. But never do I try to forcefully make you believe my standpoint. Which I by the way did do in yesterday’s class, for which I am terribly sorry, but that did lead us to this wonderful conversation didn’t it?” He smiled at the class full of students attentively listening to him and the girl.
RISE WITH THE SUN
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“It is!” The girl said. “I now understand what you meant with neither eradicating nor starting a war or conflict. We just choose a different approach, and thereby accept that conflict is inevitable to happen but still feel joyous because of it.” The teacher walked into the classroom up to the girl. Everyone was silent, what was he going to do? He smiled and raised his hand. His palm flat. The girl felt a bit scared but then she looked up at his face. He smiled. She noticed he was full of excitement and wanted to high-five her. So she did. “You are exactly right and I am proud of you.” He walked back towards the front of the classroom. “We need war in order to understand the value of peace. We need poverty to understand the true value of wealth. We cannot get rid of either one, we need both. The experience of peace can not exist without the experience of violence. That’s why we both have emotions like anger and love. We need both of them for them to exist. The important thing is that we understand that we can always decide which one to follow in a specific situation. Duality can’t be changed. Our attitude towards it can.”
Duality can’t be changed. Our attitude towards it can.
We need war in order to understand the value of peace. We need poverty to understand the true value of wealth. We cannot get rid of either one, we need both. The experience of peace can not exist without the experience of violence. That’s why we both have emotions like anger and love. We need both of them for them to exist. The important thing is that we understand that we can always decide which one to follow in a specific situation.
“Can I try something?” A boy in the front row asked. “Of course, of course! Go on!” The teacher made a little jump of joy into the air and the girls in the back of the class giggled again. “He’s cute.” One of the two said to the other. “The boy cleared his throat and spoke. “I was thinking about heat, and how we notice heat and cold. Is this another example of the necessity of duality?” He asked. “Can you explain this to me and the rest of the group?” The teacher asked. “Yeah, I think I can.” The boy said hesitantly. “If it’s cold outside and we feel cold we think of the heat of a fireplace or a blanket. We are thinking of the thing we want instead of the cold which is creating discomfort and conflict within ourselves. So when we go back inside we appreciate the warmth and heat much more than if it would have been warm outside. If it were to be hot outside we want to feel cold. So this too is duality, but if none of the two are there and we are just right. Like right now, it is neither cold nor warm, it’s somewhere right in the middle. We don’t notice it at all.” “I think it is damn cold in here!” A girl on the other end of the classroom shouted. The class and the teacher laughed together. “Well okay you’re an exception then I guess.” The teacher said jokingly. “But yes, we need that duality to appreciate both. Both have their purposes and getting rid of either one would make the situation only worse. So instead we should strive to find our approach to ending up in the middle. Instead of wanting to be warm when it’s cold try to embrace the cold and appreciate it for what it is. The same goes for heat, instead of wanting it to be cold appreciate the heat itself. Our resistance to it will only make the experience worse. Our acceptance of it will only improve the experience.
Our resistance to it will only make the experience worse. Our acceptance of it will only improve the experience.
Just like a tree goes through different stages of growth we go through stages of growth. Only we can judge these stages. We look at a tree in winter and think it is looking rather bad, and look at a tree in summer and think it’s beautiful. Or we can both see the tree in winter and summer as beautiful. It is just the way it should be during every stage of its life and doesn’t want to change itself. It uses the approach that works best for that situation.” The girl in the middle of the class clapped and the rest of the students joined her. The teacher blushed. “Why…” He fell silent and was truly moved. The students stopped clapping after some time and the teacher wiped away a sneaky tear rolling down his cheek. “Why are you clapping?” He asked with a large smile on his face. The girl answered. “You have just explained to us the purpose of duality and why negativity isn’t negative at all. Why it is only our perspective and approach toward it that makes it negative. I… We” She corrected herself. “Wanted to thank you for explaining this to us. This way we can understand why both history and other topics are important for us to learn. Not because we must, but because we have a choice to see things in a positive spotlight or a negative one. Thank you!” She said. Again the teacher teared up. He said nothing and sat in his chair, leaning back and closing his eyes embracing the sun entering the classroom again.
Duality, both negative and positive will make your life extraordinary
“Isn’t it wonderful?” He says after a few moments of silence. “What is?” The girl asks. “The sun?” He smiles. “Oh yes. It is.” She answers. “You see accepting this duality of life, and seeing that there is no need to see things as negative or positive makes everything so much more meaningful.” The students were all frowning at the same time. Their teacher was acting particularly strange, but for some reason, they did like it. He felt so joyful. “You see, we create so much suffering, stress, anger, anxiety, pain for ourselves simply because we judge things to be bad or good. But if we let go of all of that, just as you described we can feel a much deeper sense of peace and joy. If we can embrace the duality of life we can embrace the entirety of life. And therefore can enjoy everything life has to offer.”
If we can embrace the duality of life we can embrace the entirety of life. And therefore can enjoy everything life has to offer.
“Can I ask you something?” The girl asks the teacher as she raised her hand. “Of course.” The teacher said opening his eyes again and turning towards the girl. “Why do we need to learn this during history class? Why do you think this is so important for us to learn?” She asks. “History will continue to write itself, as it has always done, but to make history change once again we should strive to do something drastically different again. Following the truth in our hearts and embracing the duality of life so we can go a step further into our timeline. That’s why I want to share this with you. So you can go on and carry this with you throughout your life. So you can live happier, more meaningful, and loving lives. That’s my wish for you. I wish to teach you history, not to teach you dumb and boring facts but to teach you the lessons we have forgotten to take from it. That’s why today has been an amazing class!” He shared excitedly. “So is there any way I, and we, can keep using this? If it is something to be used?” The girl asks questionably. “Hmm let me think about that.” The teacher replied. “There is only one practice or thing you can do here. To accept everything you perceive to be negative or bad and be thankful for the lesson it is trying to teach you. Make it a fun practice. Like getting a bad grade on your math test. Instead of thinking ‘oh shit I got an F for my test’ think ‘wow I got an F for my test, let’s look into the mistakes I made so I can easily improve it next time’. Or when some stranger gets angry with you on the streets instead of thinking ‘what an asshole’ think ‘I feel sorry for him being angry with me, but luckily I am alive and happy’ and continue on your way with a bright smile on your face. The more you practice this grateful awareness of life, the more it will drastically change your entire life experience. So start with just today. The moment you leave this classroom, whatever negative or bad might happen switch it around and accept that it happened, but try to not perceive it as something particularly bad. Does that sound good to you?” He asked looking around in the classroom. The students nodded joyfully. Then the bell rang. “So remember guys, focus on the lesson derived from the bad, both the bad and the good can coexist and life will be transformed into heaven on earth!” The teacher shouted trying to overrule the loud noise of chattering and packing off bags. He smiled, content-fully and ones more made eye-contact with the girl. She smiled and softly whispered. “Thank you.” He too whispered. “Thank you” and the girl left the classroom, on to her next class but with another perspective on life.