Your soul is both unified and conflicted. It's unified in that it always, always, always, acts according to its ordered nature of mind→ emotions→ will. In any given moment, you always behave how you behave because you believe what you believe. Your soul is conflicted because your mind isn't always in agreement with itself, and so neither are your emotions or your behavior. (This is why impulsiveness gets such a bad name. What we believe in "any given moment" isn't always our wisest self.)
The root of all Internal conflict is in our minds—our thoughts and our beliefs. Some thoughts (and their corresponding emotions) are transient. We think them consciously or unconsciously but we don't hold on to them or give them much credit. These pass and we move on. The conflicts we're dealing with in this course are more tenacious. They stem from actual conflicting beliefs.
You might wonder, if internal conflict is really only about conflicting beliefs then why doesn't it always feel intellectual?
Because experience is a lot messier than breaking something down into a step-by-rational-step of how things work.
When we say, "My head and my heart don't agree," we're not comparing X emotion to X belief. Nope, we're comparing X emotion to Y belief. For example, "I believe that God is on my side (Y belief), but it doesn't feel like God is on my side (X emotion) because of my great suffering." In other words, we're aware of Y belief (God is on my side), but we're not aware of or acknowledging X belief that is producing X emotion (i.e., If God was on my side He'd protect me from suffering). We're comparing apples to oranges and it doesn't add up.
Another example: "I want someone I'm not supposed to have." This is the Do What's Right, "Be Good" Or Be Happy conflict. It has an inherent intellectual conflict in it somewhere, but the experience is more desire-vs-choice-centered so the underlying intellectual conflict is obscured.
Or this one: "I know I should manage my money better, but I never seem to make (or stick to) a budget." This is the third common experience of conflict and it's very concrete and directive. I should, therefore I will. This leaves out the emotional or desire element of the soul and the underlying belief that supports it. It quietly denies or minimizes the desires that interfere with the will. "I should manage my money, but I want ___ and believe I should have ____, therefore I never stick to my budget."
Conflicting beliefs manifest to our consciousness through different kinds of suffering. Sometimes the conflict rises up at the intersection of heart and mind, sometimes at the intersection of heart and will, and sometimes at the intersection of mind and will.
But the primary problem is still conflicting beliefs. Getting this straight makes looking for answers easier because it makes looking for the problem easier.
If you have a conflicting belief then you just need to figure out what they are, and which belief, if any, is the truth.
Easy, right? Hardly.
This course will show you three ways to bring the conflict to your consciousness, but then what? Then you take your beliefs and you test them.
This is where we get tripped up a lot and ignore the order of the soul or try to test beliefs using the wrong measure.
We can't test beliefs through our intuition or our emotions or by empirical data. While these are all forms of knowledge, they aren't forms that can be used for testing; they are forms that must be tested against reason.
Someone can tell you that they observed a square circle or that they imagined a square circle, but you know through logic alone that they did not. We can intuit nonsense or we can intuit truth. Science and experimentation can lead to truth, or not. Our emotions and intuition and experimentation often contradict another person's.
Logic alone stands as authoritative for testing beliefs.
For whatever reason though, we rational human beings often get all squirmy when called upon to be carefully logical. I'm getting squirmy just writing about it and I dig rational thought. Doesn't matter. Part of the human experience is wanting to run from the most powerful aspect of our beings—the right use of our mind.
We neglect reason, resting instead in the very assumptions that we need to question.
We avoid reason, by saying it's too hard or "not how we're wired." (Um, if you're human, you're wired.)
We resist reason; when someone calls us to account for our lack of logic we say they "just don't understand us." Or we refuse to engage at all.
We deny reason in a hundred different ways, even by neglecting, avoiding, and resisting it. And when we do, we deny the very thing that dignifies us as human.
Another way we steer away from using reason is by trying to use someone else's logic. Sneaky us. Instead of thinking for ourselves about uncomfortable things, we check in with those we care about—husband, mom, church, friends. Or we check in with what's politically correct or most popular in our culture or society.
But we can't test our beliefs by the soul of someone else, either individually (your best friend) or collectively (your culture or subculture). All of that must be laid aside when it comes to settling inner conflict. When the argument is identified, simple rational questions and answers must take the lead.
The thing is, we rarely actually get to considering if our beliefs are logical. Usually we're too busy dealing with Resistance. Defeating that foe comes long before we ever have to face logic. So let's look at what Resistance looks like when it comes to internal conflict.