Sunday, December 11, 2011

Has your Greatest Problem already been Solved?

Have you ever considered that the biggest problem in your life--the one haunting your every waking moment, the one defying every attempt to escape--has already been solved?

Let's go back a few thousand years to this classic bit wisdom of from Ecclesiastes (1:9, NIV):
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
If you're in a bad situation, reading those lines might make you feel worse. Maybe we read "This sucks, it's always sucked, and--guess what?--it's going to suck again." Trust me: I understand... and really, I know you do too. We all know that when we're in a bad mood, we see more of it all around us. We are prone to look at the flip side of whatever pithy quotes our chipper friends offer, even recasting the friend as an annoyance. We'll argue to maintain our point of view. We'll even make winning the argument more important than solving the problem. Maybe we're just not done exploring the problem...

But really, is it even remotely possible that there is a message of hope in that verse? If so, would it not be worth exploring, even if just for a little bit?

Read the verse: this thing your suffering with? It's appeared time and time again in one form or another. It's also been resolved, time and time again and in any number of ways. Sometimes maybe that means the problem is eradicated once and for all; sometimes it means a mechanism has evolved--or is ready to evolve--to handle it.

Just like "nature abhors a vacuum," nature is not too pleased with accumulation either. When something appears frequently enough, the way to deal with it evolves as well. By "something," I don't necessarily mean something tangible--your problem qualifies as a something--and by "deal with it," I really mean "transform it." That problem that you're holding on to? Somewhere there's probably a person or a system that's starving to help because you're not feeding it.

So, have you two met?

Sometimes you really don't know that there are options available. Sometimes you don't know all of the options. Sometimes you know the options but resist them. Sometimes you believe you have no other options.... In the end though, time continues to march and the problem evolves or resolves. Even if you move to release the problem's hold on you through extraordinary means, we know the problem only transforms and continues on like a wave...

Let's focus on the two pieces here that you can control, whatever the circumstances: belief (or, attachment) and resistance. Can you imagine a tree that resisted falling so as not to inconvenience the forest floor? Resistance and attachment come hand-in-hand; we don't have to consciously know our attachments, but they are evident when we resist. Resistance--your conscious attention to some kind of exertion--is your call. It's not right or wrong, per se--the system is ready for you either way--but if it doesn't matter, perhaps it's not necessary to resist at all? Releasing resistance is ultimately releasing a belief... so, okay, maybe there was really only one thing you could control after all :-)

If we needed to choose beliefs to hold, perhaps it would be better to choose the likes of faith, hope, and charity. Know that things will be better even if the path is unknown, know that there are people who can help, and--given the choice--be willing to err on the side of helping others. Trust that in the end the right things will happen, the right people and relationships will be in your life, and so forth. See what comes, what goes, and what remains when you are effortlessly you.

With a subtle doubt in your belief that all is lost, you create an opening to find solutions. Believing that a solution must exist, you can set off to engage the world and find it. Without resistance associated with trying to maintain an existing situation, saving face, saving relationships, and so forth, you can freely state your need.

Still, one day your body will die. As for how you live along the way as you "wake up" in all of these precarious situations? That's entirely your choice... and maybe you can pick up some of the wisdom mentioned elsewhere in Ecclesiastes as a result :-)

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