HomeVolume 9April 2024 The art of conflict resolution


DR. GORAKH PARULKAR shares his ideas and insights on conflict resolution. He is a pathologist by profession, and director of the Gurukrupa Diagnostic Services, Harda. Here he compares psychological conflict with his work in pathology dealing with disease, and draws some interesting parallels.

You might ask, “How is pathology related to conflict resolution?” Well, “pathology” is the combination of the words pathos and logos, the study of suffering. Isn’t that what conflict is all about? It is the source of so much suffering in our lives, whether physical, mental, in relationships, at home, or in the office. First, we have to understand what conflict is.

Is it a disagreement? Yes, it is. When my colleague or spouse has an opinion that does not match mine, we are in disagreement. And if my insistence gets involved, then this disagreement can escalate to a conflict. But conflict is not just a psychological thing. In our bodies, there are many systems working simultaneously. As long as they are in harmony, supporting each other, we are healthy. But when they are in conflict (when one system becomes a problem for another), we have a disease.

Disagreement to conflict

The same thing happens in families and organizations. We may disagree, and it may develop into a conflict, but is it a fight? Not yet. We have various ways to resolve it. Unfortunately, and not uncommonly, we do fight. We go from a disagreement of what is right, to a conflict of who is right, to the idea that I have to prove myself right and the other person wrong, and then we fight.

And is it not painful? Is it not the cause of so much suffering in our lives?

Can we try to go beneath the surface, to see if there’s any way to stop the conflict from escalating? Can we take it another way, maybe agree to disagree, or come up with a solution that includes both points of view?

Lord Buddha and the rope

Lord Buddha traveled with his disciples from place to place, and they had a routine. Every morning he would sit with them and share his insights. One day, they saw Lord Buddha coming toward them with a rope in his hands.


He sat and asked his disciples, “What’s this?”  
They said “Lord, this is a rope.” 
Then he tied a knot and again asked them, “What is this now?” 
They answered, “Lord, this is a rope with a knot in it.”  
He tied another knot, then another knot, then he asked, “Is this the same rope I brought with me initially?” 
They were puzzled. “Yes, Lord. It is the same rope but it has three knots in it. It is not simple anymore.” 
So he said, “Suppose if I want to get it back to simplicity and plainness, how do I do that?” 
The disciples replied, “Undo the knots.”

Then Lord Buddha started pulling the rope. The disciples knew that he was trying to teach them something.
When he didn’t stop, one of the disciples said, “Lord, if you pull the rope, the knots will not open, they will only get tighter.”
With a smile, Lord Buddha asked, “Then tell me, how do I open these knots?” 
The disciple said, “Lord, you need to release the tension, and then closely observe the knots to understand how they were tied in the first place. Then you will know how to open them.”

In Heartfulness meditation, we just do that. We relax our minds and go within to see where the knots are. We try to understand the complexities and complications that have formed in our minds in the past, and once we understand how the knots are made we can unravel them, solving our conflicts.

What happens if we don’t know how to do that? We make an effort. No one really likes to be in conflict. We all want to be at peace. We all want harmonious relationships. And we try our best. Sometimes, when those efforts don’t lead to much, then we start wondering, “Where is it that I’m going wrong? Are my efforts pulling the rope tighter?” Letting go and relaxing give us that quantum of time to go beyond the rush of emotions that sometimes happens in conflict.


If I know what things are really important in life, then I won’t want to compromise them. When I do compromise them for the sake of something else, am I not short changing myself? All we have to do is align our efforts to what is important. Isn’t that what conflict resolution is all about? 


Dr. Gorakh Parulkar

Dr. Gorakh Parulkar

Gorakh is a pathologist, director of a diagnostic service, and a Heartfulness practitioner and trainer. His interests include listening, storytelling, trekking, organic farming, and just being.