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Harmony through Conflict – Relationship Alchemy

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Most people shy away from the word ‘conflict’. Indeed; we as a global populous have a great deal of fear, confusion and abuse of this theme. And yet, aspects of conflict are an inevitable part of Life – starting with ourselves. We must clarify on the meaning of the word itself, here. For the Honest and Alchemical Conflict is something different than what we might presume, or what we might label as such, in what we see in the present Drama of the Human Race. We can, perhaps, make a distinction between the ‘True’ and ‘False’ conflict. The False conflict is that which we tend to be most familiar with in the world around us. It arises first from a place of dishonesty, and further irresponsibility. It is the dramatic story that rises out of an objection to meeting an uncomfortable place (often painful), and moves as an identity into reality, to make battle with its (believed) opposing force. These two forces have what appear to be opposing viewpoints. Yet, what makes them the same, is that they are both rising out of Falsehood – the objection – to an honest meeting with what is really going on. This is at the heart of resistance, and it requires a lack of honesty and true discernment, along with the arrogance of denying the deeper vulnerability of what is REALLY going on underneath the pull to defend, attack, or manipulate. Think locally; how many times have you yourself participated in or witnessed a confrontation between people where neither were really hearing one another? How can there even be an actual engagement between two or more parties when no one actually knows what the other is saying (and often even what they themselves are saying)?

Our incapacity to be honest-with and responsible for meeting conflict with care, precision and humility (‘True’ conflict), has resulted in the manifestation and all-pervading presence of ‘False’ conflict; creating unnecessary wars, drama, confusions and corruptions left, right, and centre. In seeing these latter elements, it’s easy to understand why many of us shy-away from conflict, as it is so often associated with creating further disharmony, and enabling abuse. But turning away from these places of pressure and discordance is obviously not the way. Failure to acknowledge the honesty of the Now is an abandonment of Oneself, as a movement of fear. Furthermore, we need to take responsibility for seeing the deeper reality of the True Gift of conflict, when we see it in its pure offering. Consider what Jung has said on the subject:

[One letter is addressed to the individual level, a personal letter in 1945 to Olga Frobe, his longtime friend and the founder of Eranos; the other to the collective level, from “The Undiscovered Self” in 1956.]

“… There can be no resolution, only patient endurance of the opposites which ultimately spring from your own nature. You yourself are a conflict that rages in itself and against itself, in order to melt its incompatible substances, the male and the female, in the fire of suffering, and thus create that fixed and unalterable form which is the goal of life. Everyone goes through this mill, consciously or unconsciously, voluntarily or forcibly. We are crucified between the opposites and delivered up to the torture until the “RECONCILING THIRD” takes shape. Do not doubt the rightness of the two sides within you, and let whatever may happen, happen. The apparently unendurable conflict is proof of the rightness of your life. A life without inner contradiction is either only half a life or else a life in the Beyond, which is destined only for angels. But God loves human beings more than the angels…”

“[A] mood of universal destruction and renewal… has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially, and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the kairos—the right moment—for a “metamorphosis of the gods,” of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious human within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science... So much is at stake and so much depends on the psychological constitution of the modern human.”

Ah, the call to alchemy brought on by the movement of internal pressures and *seeming* contradictions… Indeed, it has been my consistent experience, that within the embrace of the fragmented and battling parts of the human, that the deeper intelligence of the dormant ‘3rd’ aspect (truth/harmony) is awakened, and brought to fruition… but my dear friends, these aspects required honest acknowledgement, with the Will to face the temporal unpleasantness, for the True Invitation to Beauty present in the conflict to be discovered. This is what Jung called the Individuation process, or what we might call more specifically for our purposes here, the Embodying of Truth/Love, and the birthing of the unique integrity of the Human. Soul embodiment, in its unification with Matter. Birthing Truth is not always just about surrendering into the bliss and joy of God. The pathway to deeper and deeper states of unity and Truth require, as we have spoken about, the meeting of great pain, investigating contradictions and patterns, and choosing absolute honesty in embracing all aspects of our human experience, with keen curiosity and humility. Just as it can be painful in the first instance of sex (entering matter), and the pain present in the giving-birth of a child… Our liberation is not freedom-from these challenges, but in the embrace of them, which then demonstrates to us the deeper wisdom of our own integrity awaiting discovery – the alchemical ‘3rd’. We meet many rounds of these conflicts in the birthing of Truth. Phases of the rubbing-down alchemical birthing, followed by the letting-go into the Deepening that happens as a result, which is beautiful, as the arrival into the new levels of embodied harmony.

Our sacred relationships are a fabulous cauldron of alchemical processes. They allow for a deeper-seeing into our own internal conflicts, as well as how they may fractal outward, and manifest externally between both parties. James and I go through rounds of the True Conflict, and we have become greater and greater masters of these processes. Also, over time, the need to play out the conflict between us as ‘drama’ has lessened and lessened, as our union together has matured, our deepening harmony together becoming a reflection of the commitment to honesty, especially in those sticky places of identification and egoic self-preservation.

The tougher points of conflict in our relationship have always been the gateways to the next major descent, with the aftermath of alchemical conflict birthing a new phase of the relationship, with even greater intimacy, trust, closeness and creativity together. I cannot imagine where would we be without the honesty and willingness to navigate these places… well, if I had to, I would say we simply wouldn’t Be [together].

When we first got together, my relationship to conflict and honesty was somewhat stronger than James’. I had done much more intensive work in my journey prior to that point on the embrace of challenge, and coming into comfortability with having ‘conflicting’ engagements, as well as having practiced in more ways than one the alchemy of the inwardly-conflicting aspects of my own un-integrated psyche. There was much James had to wear-down in terms of shame that would prevent honest sharing, with his overall fear of conflict.

This is why I have made the distinction between ‘True’ and ‘False’ conflict. To allow permission for the True Alchemical Process to unfold, we need to take responsibility within ourselves for dissolving all of that which comes up as fear/resistance of honest relating in general, and then especially for the places where there is the arising of the True Conflict. Our courage, curiosity and dedication must grow strong enough to not only become Willing to enter these places, but eventually, to Love entering these places, in seeing the opportunity for transformation (even if it is uncomfortable)! The friction of opposing forces creates the heat that burns and melts the compounds; again birthing the 3rd element.

This is such a profound and greatly empowering teaching…. Some contemplations for you to deepen and integrate this inquiry:

  1. Can you sense the difference between honest/true conflict and the drama of the false conflict? If not, spend time here and uncover the wisdom inside yourself…

  2. What exists within you in relationship to conflict? Is there fear and resistance? Any preferences of ‘niceness’ or superficial pleasantries? Any cultural or familial wiring that prefers avoidance of friction? Does a fear of being wrong or questioned arise? Doubt? A sense of weakness in being able to discern or stand for honesty in a moment of potential conflict?

  3. Inventory: What conflicts are you experiencing within yourself and your life right now? Can see you see some of the opposing forces within you? Perhaps a part of you stuck in fear or doubt, wrestling with following deeper love, in whatever way this can manifest yourself?

There will always be something within you waiting for this investigation… be true to the questions, confusions and conflicts within you, learn not to fear them, but see them as gateways. Allow yourself to fall in Love with the fact of investigation, to explore the mechanics of your Being, as an act of Love and dedication to Truth. True conflict shows us another part of the human passage to uncovering Truth, and this approach is not about asserting a separate identity, but allowing the separate someone to die in the alchemical process of discovering the 3rd element, as a deeper revelation of Truth. With Great Love and Tender Care,


(Taken from a previous relationship course.)

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