It’s pretty good news actually. You don’t have any problems.
We have problems, for sure. We have plenty of problems. But you, you don’t have any and I mean that sincerely.
Problems are in the field, not in you. They’re a description of elements in the common relational space we inhabit. They’re the elephant in the room and that elephant belongs to all of us. Problems aren’t attached to anybody. They’re expressed as symptoms through us. Treating a problem as though it was yours is the same dynamic as treating a topical symptom without recognizing the underlying cause. It seems helpful at first but doesn’t really work. Treating symptoms doesn’t make a problem go away.
Not that we don’t really experience symptoms. We do. The beloved dies, cancer worms its way in, an evil empire rules the world, you contract leprosy – the full catastrophe will show up. We’re rooted in the world with all its complexity. The most devilishly troublesome designer symptoms will show up through you, ones that only you can handle. The symptoms that show up, good or ill, are our fate. We can’t escape them.
But none of them are in you. Every problem that ever happened comes from a misidentification with yourself as an isolated person whose job it is to struggle alone, carrying a weight that it’s your duty to bear alone. But the sad or funny reality is the weight doesn’t belong to you. One day, and it may not be far away, this idea that problems belong to people may seem as weird as the idea that an evil spirit got into them. Carrying problems as if they’re our own isn’t any more useful, or helpful, than this.
The underlying cause of our problems are in the field. To the extent that we take them on we take them on on behalf of the field.
There’s another way to do it, a much easier way.
The understanding we’re talking about here is one that’s traditionally been thought of as exceedingly difficult, well nigh impossible. The ‘enlightenment” game. That game too is a problem we don’t have. Enlightenment presupposes the isolated self too and sets us up as the hero to fix it. But we’re not stuck with that.
And it’s really not hard to have that be self-evident to you. It’s quite easy when we see others doing this, when we do it together. It’s not hard when we see other people who are as idiosyncratic and human – as messy – as us, doing it. Enlightenment is a team sport.
Your comments welcome!
This is an excerpt from Practicing OneWorld Online, a new book coming out later this year. Evolutionary YOU is out now. You can purchase it here.