Dec 4, 2015

THE SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS






Ordeals accepted cheerfully, going through the process, will bear spiritual fruits.
-Kamlesh D. Patel

For most of my life I grew up looking insatiably for answers to Life. In Sunday school, I asked the “million dollar questions,” and often got less than satisfactory responses. For most of us, the problems we face in life burn within us on some level until there is a sense of resolution. This inner turbulence can come out as a myriad of emotional responses from anger to impatience to depression. For me it mostly manifested as anxiety and existential sadness. Though a generally positive person, these imbalances took a toll on my inner world and relationships. I had a lot of unwinding to do.

When I started meditation, I caught a glimpse into the balance and possibility of inner stillness. Over the following years of a daily practice, I continue to find more grace and softness inside. Now those over-sensitivities have come to a beautiful equilibrium, where I find an unprecedented sense of satisfaction and contentment. I’m still (definitely) refining to become more gracious. But overall my approach to life has become smooth and trusting.

When I first went to a gathering for North American Heartfulness meditators, Kamlesh Patel gave a talk to the youth. I felt excited to get some answers, as there was to be a Q & A at the end of the session. To start off, he requested we sit in meditation together for about twenty minutes with the question we had, placing it in our hearts. Any concerns that were not satisfactorily resolved by introspection he agreed to take up thereafter.

I had a burning contention at the time that I felt compelled to understand better. Convinced it would remain to be answered after, I settled into the group meditation. By the end of that time a surprising thing happen. I didn’t have an answer to my problem. I perceived no “this or that” definitive response, like I imagined I would need. Instead, the intensity of energy that prompted the need to have this question in the first place completely dissolved. I realized that this issue stemmed from an inner seed that wanted justification or attention. In the meditation that seed withered, and with it the tension prompting the question. While I didn’t have an “answer” to my question, I did have a solution: the need to ask the question totally dissolved.

And in scientific terms, that’s what a solution is – a dispersion of a solute into a solvent. A solution creates an evenness, an absorption and assimilation. Think of a sugar cube dissolving in water. Something with its own definable shape becomes invisibly incorporated and indistinguishable in the still-transparent water. The best part of this kind of heart-dilution is there’s no aftertaste.

This experience marked a proverbial ah ha moment for me. I felt extremely humbled in the understanding that what I felt as problems were actually an egoic need for attention to a part of myself I wasn’t ready to let go of.

Of course, as human beings we all go through pain. The Buddha explains it beautifully in the Sallatha Sutta example of the two arrows. When we experience the inevitable physical pain that life sometimes brings, it’s like being shot with one arrow. But as humans we do a strange thing. We voluntarily create more suffering by lamenting and distressing over that pain that arises, as if we choose to shoot a second arrow into ourselves. Buddha encourages us to reexamine this tendency and not shoot the second arrow by mastering our minds and finding equanimity. Then an interesting thing happens. Our pain doesn’t become a problem. It transmutes into a merely given circumstance.

The basic narrative of all human aspiration is flourishing beyond our given circumstances. This story is what I believe we’ve come here to live out to whatever degree possible, flying evenly with both the material and spiritual wings. We feel inspired by the people who succeed against all odds. Our heart melts, to hear of those initially less fortunate rising to the heights of their pursuit. We feel a sense of inner courage and possibility when faced with these stories. It is a huge hint that adversity by itself does not create problems.

Our mind creates our problems.

I’m not saying that everything unpleasant happens to you because you brought it upon yourself. I’m saying that how we perceive and react to any given circumstances – whether pleasant or unpleasant – defines our level of suffering. And the cool thing is that it’s possible through practicing heartfulness to find resilience to whatever circumstances come our way. Our circumstances might not change, but our attitude will.

So I will boldly attest that meditation will solve all your problems. It may not prevent challenges or pain from coming your way, but it can reorient your perspective to cheerfully accept whatever occurs in our lives in trust that we will come out on the other side with a new kind of strength to continue our inner evolution.







Photo: Andrew Ridley

2 comments

  1. "I’m not saying that everything unpleasant happens to you because you brought it upon yourself. I’m saying that how we perceive and react to any given circumstances – whether pleasant or unpleasant – defines our level of suffering. And the cool thing is that it’s possible through practicing heartfulness to find resilience to whatever circumstances come our way. Our circumstances might not change, but our attitude will."

    Amazingly well said Emma. So much food for thought in this piece. And, as always, beautifully written, too.

    Can't wait to read what comes next.

    -TW

    ReplyDelete
  2. Food for thought ... Insightful...

    ReplyDelete

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