Self-Examination as a Tool for Peace and Happiness Volume 1
byJacques L. Koko Ph.D.
Book Cover & Preview Text
The potential to be happy is within each one of us. Yet happiness keeps challenging us with tons of existential contradictions. Every human being is a nexus of contradicting potentials. We all have the potential to be good. But our limitations often test or challenge our potential to be good. The road to happiness or peace is filled with contradictions. The key question revolves around the meaning of happiness and how we unlock such a potential in the midst of daily existential contradictions. To that end, you have already and certainly taken important steps in your life. You are adding another significant step here and now by expressing your interest in this book. You have made a meaningful decision by selecting to read the book in your hands. Maybe you are or have been trapped by existential contradictions just as I am and have been. Sometimes, existence makes you become so attached to the things and people around you that you find detachment bitter and even unbearable. You faithfully respect and trust someone, but unexpectedly that person disappoints you. You are in a relationship where you care about someone so deeply and wish that person could care about you in return. But that person does not care about you. You are shocked that a spouse who loves you suddenly becomes abusive to you. So, you consider the options of dialogue, third-party intervention, counseling, family therapy, or divorce. You meet the love of your life who cares about you, and whom you care about. Unfortunately, your parents or relatives do not want to see you around that person due to some differences in ethnicity, race, or religion. You love your children so much and wish they could listen to you and heed your advice. But they would not. Instead, they give you stress daily. You respect and love your parents so dearly. But they do not want to respect your freedom. You are very happy in a relationship, but suddenly you lose your partner or spouse to a sudden disease or accident. You enjoy life, but death suddenly takes away a friend or loved one and warns you might be its next target. You take good care of yourself to be healthy, but you still get sick. A medication designed to help you could also hurt you if you abuse it. You want peace but get war and chaos instead. You suddenly get trapped as a refugee or an internally displaced person or an innocent victim in a war that you never wished for or expected. And you find it difficult to leave everything behind you, including your land and community, and run away for safety or head to the unknown. You once left work excited to go home and rest in your gorgeous house. But by the time you reached home you heard that your house got caught in a wild fire. You went to witness the sad evidence that your house burnt down to the ashes in a fire that came from nowhere. Or your beautiful house got taken away by a recent tornado unexpectedly. Or it got wiped out of the map by the flood from the latest hurricane or tsunami. Your business is doing so well, but a sudden crash in the market turns it upside-down or puts it unexpectedly on the verge of collapse. You suddenly lose all the gain you made or everything you have worked hard for over the years.
By existential contradictions I mean any conflicts that divide self into opposing parts, contradicting motions, thoughts or actions standing sharply against each other or against self. Existential contradictions imply conflicts splitting subjectivity. They unveil a self with conflicts inside and outside. In these pages the words contradiction and self-conflict can be used interchangeably to mean the same thing. Existential contradictions encompass all contradictory motions, conditions or situations more or less inherent to human existence, whether they are natural, social, structural or systemic. Existential contradictions also include what I coin as conceptual conflicts of misrepresentation. By conceptual conflicts, I intend to mean conflicts that are over a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation of the conventional meaning or definition of the concepts we use in daily communications. We often use the same words in our conversations, but unfortunately we do not always mean the same thing. We do not always mean what we say. As a result, we create confusions and even contradictions over the meanings of concepts. Conceptual conflicts of misrepresentation can resonate in poor choices of words, lacks of understanding the conventional meanings of concepts, manipulations, and lies. We daily face existential contradictions in our social environment.
Self-examination is a method of self-reflection and self-evaluation. Self-examination encompasses the notion and practice of soul-searching but is larger in scope or magnitude. It is a self-evaluation of the impacts of my thoughts and actions (including attitudes and behaviors) on myself (that is on my mind and body), and on my social environment (that is on my social surrounding, on others around me). It involves a quiet contemplation and review process of my interactions with my mind, my body, and my social environs. It allows me to discern my thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors in order to identify those thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that grant me and my social environment peace of mind and heart. It directs me to side with thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that give me and others such peace and capitalize on them. Compassion and respect for self and for others would be main criteria for identifying my peace-bearing thoughts, attitudes, and actions. Self-examination makes me reject and stay away from any thoughts, attitudes or behaviors that bring upon me and upon others worries or troubles.
This book carefully tries to unravel the puzzle of existential contradictions and happiness. It reflects and translates piece by piece my practice of self-examination in the midst of existential contradictions. Throughout the lines of my stories, the book unveils the transformative potential of self-examination for peace and happiness.
This book carefully tries to unravel the puzzle of existential contradictions and happiness. It reflects and translates piece by piece Suru’s practice of self-examination in the midst of existential contradictions. Throughout the lines of Suru’s adventures or stories, the book unveils the transformative potential of self-examination for peace and happiness. In Suru’s experience, the human journey to peace or happiness is a long one. Suru’s certainly remains a long and challenging one. Every time Suru thinks or feels like he has conquered peace or happiness for good, he ends up being wrong. He ends up losing his peace; his happiness escapes and challenges him to keep on running after the goal. And when he succeeds in catching up with it anew, peace dwells within his mind and heart for some time and escapes again. Suru keeps on longing for peace and happiness. His road to happiness is filled with contradictions, and his search for peace seems endless; it is like a lifetime journey. Every time the roadblocks of contradictions show up, they force the train of Suru’s journey to stop for a moment. Fortunately, self-examination transforms that stop into the opportunity of a much-needed station for the train of his existence. At that station, Suru pauses and takes the time to evaluate the direction of his existential movement to find his lost peace. In the midst of existential contradictions, it could be difficult to find peace. The path to peace could become nebulous. But with the tool of self-examination, peace is likely to find you.
About the Author
Dr. Jacques L. Koko is an associate professor of conflict analysis and dispute resolution at Salisbury University in Maryland in the United States. His focus includes organizational conflict resolution and leadership development, cross-cultural conflict resolution, religion and conflict resolution, conflict coaching, effective communication in the workplace, group facilitation, family therapy, peacemaking (meditation, self-examination, negotiation and mediation), peacekeeping, peace-building, and research methods in conflict transformation. He is married and has three children.