I recently set off to go spend time alone in silence in the mountains and wound up spending nearly a week camping along a river, basically meditating, eating, and sleeping.
Now you’d think it’d be simple enough to sit down and spend time in silence where everything is great and nothing is wrong, but it turns out that wasn’t the case! Wanna watch the mind go crazy? Give it nothing to do!
It’s funny… we have this thing called a nervous system, and they call it a nervous system for a reason! It’s amazing how, when we take an extended period of time to be quiet and still, we get to see the mind’s activities quite clearly instead of just glossing over them and focusing upon the externals of life.
You see, the first few days I found it incredibly tough to just sit down and relax. I kept getting (and usually following) the impulses that would continually arise. Think about this! Do this! Don’t do that! Go for a swim! Take a hike! Work on your tan! Go check out that area! Basically spin around and expend this energy through any means possible, emotional, mental, or physical.
One thing in particular that would keep happening was that the mind would think back to a problem in my life and I’d start feeling the emotional response about that. Feeling the emotional stirring, I’d go into my problem-solving toolbox and start working on the issue. Inquire, release, do tapping, allow it to be as it is, love it, surrender, focus on something else, tell a better feeling story… you name it! I’ll bet your problem-solving toolbox is pretty vast as well after a whole lifetime of developing tools.
and yet after a while I began noticing a certain pattern: I’m right here where everything is just fine, all of the sudden the mind thinks up a problem (that only exists within the mind, mind you), and then the mind gets on the task of solving the problem it just thought up.
It’s so easy to dive right into the process of problem solving, which is almost like the mind’s job, and yet if you pause and take a look, you’ll notice that there’s actually no real problem to fix. NONE!
It’s just the mind looking at the world, literally making up a problem by calling such-and-such a problem, and then trying to solve this made-up problem, thereby giving itself the job of protecting you. It is both the creator of and solver of problems that don’t actually exist outside of thought!
The problem-solver within us mind literally NEEDS problem to continue its own existence! It is addicted to suffering!
As my friend Eric put it so perfectly, the mind is both the arsonist and the firefighter! That says it all. It’s two sides of the same coin.
After looking at this, it’s discovered that the mind keeps going into problem creating/solving mode on its own. It’s like a deep habit. Looking a little more closely, I saw that there was actually quite literally an addiction to problems and their solutions!
In fact, when you look at our society in general, you’ll see it’s structured similarly to our minds. (No surprise there.) For example, the way we make money is through solving problems for others, is it not?
Are they hungry? Cook ‘em a meal. Are they unsuccessful in business? Teach ‘em marketing and business skills. Do they need to get around town? Start up a taxi service.
Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with solving problems for others, and I’m not suggesting that we stop solving problems. What I am suggesting is that we pause to take a closer look into the nature of the so-called problems that we’re so caught up trying to solve in the first place.
It’s almost like the mind’s mantra is, “There’s something wrong. There’s something wrong. There’s something wrong. How do I fix it? How do I fix it? How do I fix it?”
*Now here’s the key point: when our overall experience of reality is based upon the idea that there’s something fundamentally wrong with life, there’s a general uneasiness, anxiety, and disharmony within us that no amount of problem-solving can solve. Why not? Because the very living in a world of problems and solutions is itself the problem!
This internal fundamental deep deep disharmony within us is due to our belief in the idea that there can exist such a thing as a problem in the first place, and the emotional response we have is due to our belief in something being problematic.
Everything we try, and only everything, whether it’s based in actively fixing a problem like inquiry or healing, or letting go of the problem through surrender and releasing, all of these activities are still based upon the fundamental notion that there’s a problem to be solved. Why else try to inquire, heal, let go, or surrender?
It was only when everything I tried or didn’t try, and I mean EVERYTHING failed, that I sat back and took note.
Vulnerably and honestly I began admitting to myself for the first time in my life,
I am addicted to problems.
I am addicted to suffering.
I am addicted to trying to solve problems.
I am addicted to using my mind and using tools to do stuff.
I am addicted to this whole spiritual game.
And there’s nothing I can do. I am completely and utterly addicted.
Everything I do fails. Everything. No matter how spiritual, wise, or sneaky it may seem. Everything fails. Everything I do is based upon my trying to fix these problems in the first place.
In this seeing, in this clear seeing that I am addicted to this game and nothing I can do works, stopping happened. Somehow. On its own, surrendering happened. In the light of awareness, the game ceased on its own.
Maybe it’s reverse psychology or something, whatever. It worked.
Now as you begin seeing through this tendency of the mind, this literal addiction to problem creating/solution finding, you begin seeing that wait a minute, when I quit buying into these stories of the mind, there’s nothing actually wrong with reality at all! Oil spills, starving children and all. There’s actually nothing wrong with that. Nothing!
Blasphemous! I know… I’m not asking you to believe me that everything is okay, or even suggesting that the world’s tragedies are a good thing. By saying that it’s not bad, that doesn’t mean that the opposite is true. Is it possible that good and bad are just viewpoints of the mind and nothing more?
What I am suggesting that you take a look into the nature of the origin of problems themselves. From where do they arise? Do they have any underlying reality outside the mind’s world of imagination and make-believe?
Again, it’s literally only the belief that there’s something wrong with this that creates the experience of what we call problems and all the mental/emotional/physical dis-ease that comes along with it. Again, it can be discovered directly that there’s *nothing* wrong with the world.
Saying “Oh yes, that makes sense. I understand. Of course it’s all mind.” That doesn’t help either. That’s still just mind.
Anyways, if you take the time to deeply look into the nature of problems, and you begin stepping out of problem/solution thinking, if your experience is anything like mine, you’ll likely begin going through withdrawl. You’re putting the protector of a mind out of a job and it has an addiction to being your protector! It won’t go down without a fight! Like a drug addict, it may feel like you’re going utterly insane without giving yourself another hit of “Here’s a problem. Focus on the problem and juice the problem. Then when you’re tired of that draining activity, start working on the solution and heal that. Once you fix that issue, enjoy the temporary relief and momentary satisfaction of being successful at solving a problem.. until the next problem arises that is. Rinse and repeat.”
Living this way is like a constant battle with life, is it not?
When you allow yourself to go through the process inquiring into the nature of thought, of mind, of problems, of stories, of just not believing or following the thoughts of problems in the first place and break that habitual programming, it can then be discovered directly that my god… the fundamental nature of existence itself is well-being!
All is well! All is well! Even when the world is a mess and all isn’t well, all is well!
What we’re talking about here is a very deep fundamental shift in the very perception and experience of life itself.
(Like the breaking of other habits, it’s not an instantaneous shift in my experience, but a gradual process as we change life-long habits and break away from how society functions.)
From this new place, a completely new outlook on life is possible:
Everything right now is okay and all of life is an expression of well-being. In fact, I AM the embodiment of well-being itself and my every action is a celebration of the well-being that is already present! Well-being abounds!
As the world spins around and goes through its rollercoaster of highs and lows, all is well. No matter what happens, all is well.
The world is well-being, manifesting as all phenomena, sights and sounds.
It’s not that you’ve solve all your problems and that everything in life will be rosy. This is not an external change, but an internal change. Just because you get enlightened doesn’t mean that you’ll never get sick (Ramana died of cancer), everyone will love you, and you won’t be nailed to a cross. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. To think that enlightenment will solve all your worldly problems is a misconception. That’s not the point. One of the things that clarity into the nature of reality seems to bring you is freedom from thinking that there’s something wrong with life that needs to be fixed in the first place. You exit that (mental) world without the world needing to change.
From this space, you still interact with the world and respond to its happenings, sure, but rather than starting from the assumption that there is something wrong with reality and thereby seeing it as flawed, you come from the awareness that everything is okay and respond accordingly, loving what is. Imagine what a difference that would make…
Instead of trying to “improve the world” and take it from broken to fixed, as noble and helpful as that is, you now see the innate well-being and literally become the very well-being you wish to see in the world, Gandhi-style. Instead of trying to get to heaven or bring heaven down to earth, you realize that heaven is already here! Living from this space of well-being, you automatically begin eliciting a very different response from the world now that you see it differently. As the saying goes, as within, so without.
From this space, this mental/emotional/physical/spiritual apparatus that is arising here begins living very differently.
As the nervous system releases its deep-seated inner anxieties of problems, there is more peace, freedom, well-being, and love that is experienced and expressed. Still new territory to me that I’m exploring here, but It’s like you feel yourself open up to allowing things to be as they are, to loving whatever arises, and to be with any and every expression of life, life and death.
Look within. Look within. Look within.