Are there really problems?

(The second of three articles)

If we look more closely at the conditions required for unhappiness, we see that the common condition in all cases is the perception of problems. Something is not as it should be. While it's obvious that this is an idea, it's not always so obvious that this idea is not true. At this point we have to distinguish between a natural response of the body/mind to conditions, in which there is no suffering, and the idea that what is happening should not be happening, which does indeed lead to suffering.

problems solutions sign If one gets too close to the edge of a cliff, the natural response of the body/mind is fear, which results in the movement away from the edge. This fear does not constitute suffering any more than the fear experienced in a roller coaster is suffering. However, if there is the idea 'That was a foolish thing to do. I'm so stupid. I could have been killed. They should put up a railing. Why didn't you warn me?' occurs, there may well be suffering involved. These thoughts are pure imagination and the creation of a problem to be solved. They involve self condemnation, judgment of others, and the escalation of a natural fear response to something akin to panic or rage. The fear is not a problem, but now it has become a problem of terror, panic and rage, and seems to call for resolution.

As another example, lets say a close friend, with whom you have shared many wonderful experiences, dies. It's a very natural response to feel sorrow over the loss of your friend because you have experienced joy as a result of their presence. Sorrow is just the darker side of joy and cannot be avoided, but it does not need to be avoided any more than the sadness experienced while watching a sad movie needs to be avoided.

sad movie

Sorrow is a powerful emotion that is not inherently bad and is part of the aliveness of life itself. In this sadness there is no suffering, but if there is the idea 'This should not have happened. It's not fair. She was too young. I'll never be able to enjoy her company for the rest of my life. A part of me has died too.', now there is grief and depression and this is suffering. As with fear, sadness has been escalated through a process of imagining a problem in which something is not as it should be. We don't actually know what it should be, we only know what it is.

The natural response of the body/mind that results in fear or sadness does not actually constitute suffering, and while it may not fulfill the conditions that are imagined to be needed for happiness to be present, the idea that happiness should always be present is yet another imaginary problem similar to the above two examples.

Possibly, it can be seen now why a new mode of thinking is required. As long as we insist on imagining problems that don't actually exist, which must be solved so that the imaginary happiness problem can be solved, there cannot be Peace. While the obvious answer is to stop imagining problems, this presents another dilemma that has to be addressed.

The third of three articles is "Serial Problem Solver".

Self Actualization Home

Living Consciously (part 1)
Living Consciously (part 2)
Split Mind
When Does Feeling Become Suffering?
Breaking Habits by Healing the Split Mind
Our Tendency to Imagine Problems
Is Struggle the Effect or Cause of Suffering?
Happiness is an Idea (first Article)
Serial Problem Solver (third article)
The Delusion of Burt the Bunny
Realization Vs Thinking
Imaginary Feelings
Realization is Self Evident
Seeing Through illusions
The Habit Game

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Self Actualization

Self Actualization

"To identify oneneself as a separate entity in a universe that refuses to acknowledge and support that separateness, is suffering."
Phil Beaumont

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