Forum Post: GOOD NEWS: A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SOLUTION to our economic, environmental, social & political problems is at our fingertips.
Posted 6 months ago on Dec. 19, 2012, 6:51 a.m. EST by therising
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
We admirably strive to improve the world. We work to end war, feed the hungry and enact laws that will protect our kids and our environment. We push back against the corporate hijacking of our republic. We work to change the rules of our economy in order to reverse dramatic wealth disparity. All of these nonviolent efforts are important and we should keep at it. But our current mode of thinking has prevented us from recognizing an even more powerful solution, one that can compliment and energize our current efforts.
One reason we haven't solved our major problems yet is that we continue to see things as happening TO us and we keep searching for solutions ONLY in the external world. Those solutions, as necessary as they are, are not sufficient. They will only stick if we also change our internal point of view.
Our current dualistic worldview will always lead to more problems. This is true no matter how well-meaning we are and no matter how hard we work to fix external circumstances. If we really want to change things, we're going to have to realize that these external circumstances are essentially symptoms of a deeper "dis-ease".
Ironically, the flawed dualistic frame through which we view the world is essentially what's causing a lot of the problems that we're working so hard to fix. We need to take responsibility for our contribution to these problems. Luckily, taking such personal responsibility opens the door for us to play a real role in the solutions as well.
Albert Einstein put it like this: "A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
We are currently stuck in a dualistic "everything is separate and it's me against the world" mindset. The good news is that, once we take a step back, we can come to realize that this mindset is just a delusion. The source of the struggle is not really out there in the world as we think it is. The SYMPTOMS are out there and they are very real and dangerous. But the true root of the problem is in our heads. We are simply projecting our internal delusion out into the world. In our minds, we red staters and blue staters, we democracy advocates and anarchists, we Christians and Muslims are in the same boat in one very important aspect: We each think of ourselves as separate individuals and we experience daily life with a "me vs. the world" mindset. By doing so, we see a distorted view of reality, almost as if we are wearing green tinted glasses. We THINK the whole world is green (full of disconnected individual parts) and we are 100% sure that's reality. But it isn't. We can awaken to a larger view and see the world as it actually is, an interdependent whole (rather than a collection of disconnected parts). Once we gain this context, our own individual world will transform and so will our society as others awaken from the dualistic delusion too.
We each think we are like separate waves in the ocean. Each individual wave (and human being), it appears, is "born", rises and "dies" and is separate from the others. This is our perspective and to us, it's "just the way it is." We compare ourselves unfavorably along the way to some "waves" and resist others. It is a dissatisfied perspective full of struggle that leads to continual stress and resistance. It also causes all of us to do harm in the world, no matter how good our intentions.
We start off on many valiant efforts to fix things, but we lose before we even start because we begin with a limited mindset that cuts us off from the very results we seek.
But it doesn't have to be this way. The worldview that says we are all separate waves is a distorted view of reality. As a matter of fact, it's just an idea in our heads. As you well know, the truth is that waves are just WATER. They aren't separate from the ocean. You can't really draw a line and show where one ends and another begins. The separateness we are so sure exists in the world is just an artificial construct in our minds. The "wave" is just a form. It's really just water.
The water exists in the world, but the wave only exists in our heads.
We only think we're seeing individual waves because, with language, we name things and thereby lay a false grid across the world, artificially segmenting it into parts. Then, amazingly, we turn around and believe that segmentation is actually out there in the world. We believe that separateness to be real.
It's as if we're looking out at a mountain range through binoculars that have lines on the lenses to denote different parts of the field of view and we mistakenly think the lines are out there in the world. "Look at those mountains!" we exclaim. "They have lines on them. I see them. They're right there!" We're so darn sure.
It is incredibly important to recognize the distinction between perception and reality here because this "we are all separate" mindset is a delusion we ACT on in the world and these actions are often quite harmful to us, others and the environment. This is the root of most of our troubles. Our worldview blinds us to our connection to others, blinds us to the fact that our well being is tied to the well being of others.
That damaging stress that comes from isolation and brings on all this problems drops away, though, when we drop the delusion that we are separate individuals. We can stop thinking these artificial divisions in our minds actually exist in the world. When we awaken and realize we are water (rather than individual waves), we see commonality and connection and we don't feel desperate and alone. We realize we have power and our actions (whether positive or negative) have an impact on this delicate and interdependent world. We realize that we have responsibility for what happens to us. Blaming and attacking the neighbor or someone across the sea, then, is just plain silly. It would be like your left hand attacking your right if the right hand accidentally hits the left with a hammer.
Thich Nhat Hanh put it this way: When we look at a sheet of paper with our dualistic eyes, we see it as somehow separate from us. But the truth is that that paper came from a tree. So, if we are honest, we recognize the tree in the paper. And if we continue to be honest, we realize that a logger cut down that tree. So the logger is really part of the paper too. The bread that fed the logger and the baker who baked that bread are also part of the paper. And the tree wouldn't have grown in the first place without water and sunshine, so those are part of the paper too. The paper could not exist without them.
When we take a step back and continue this line of thinking, we begin to realize that there is nothing that is not somehow connected to that paper, including us. That's why the Buddhists call the sheet of paper, the wave, and every other form "empty". What they mean is that it is empty of a separate self, empty of a separate existence. It can't exist without everything else. It is conditional. Interdependent. Connected. And so are we.*
Particle physics is beginning to discover this exact same phenomenon (see the film "Mindwalk" and the work of Fritjof Capra and others). The idea that we or the paper are some separate lonely object or form disconnected from everything else is just false. Unfortunately, that false perspective of separateness and loneliness is the one we carry around with us all day long. It's our "green glasses".
Because of the distorted view of reality we get through those glasses, we see danger where there is none and we feel fear that there's no reason to feel. Our minds are like motors producing all sorts of thoughts (the majority of them lacking any grounding in reality). And unfortunately we believe everything we think, even when those thoughts are fueled by the delusion that we are separate from everyone else. As a result, we act on false information on a daily basis and thereby cause a lot of harm to ourselves and others. This, it seems, is the underlying problem that is the root of all the surface problems we keep attempting to fix.
When we focus on root causes, this doesn't mean we stop working on the symptoms. Environmental laws and regulations preventing corporations from buying elections etc. are necessary. But we can't stop there. We need to also work on a fundamental level to fix the underlying problem: We have a flawed mindset right out of the gate that cuts us off from the very change we seek.
Dostoevsky put it this way: "Man has been broken up into self-contained individuals, each of whom retreats into his lair. . . He only [worries] that the wealth and privileges he has accumulated may get lost. . . [But] the security of the individual cannot be achieved by his isolated efforts but only by mankind as a whole. . . AN END to this fearful isolation is bound to come and all men will understand how unnatural it was for them to have isolated themselves from one another."
Martin King, Jr. said, "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. We are, all of us, inextricably linked."
Once we recognize that we are" inextricably linked", another world is truly possible. All we need to do is take off those green tinted glasses. Then we can view the world as it is instead of the world as it is in our heads.
PS - Perk up. Our action opens up every possibility. Too often we look fearfully to the future not realizing that our assumption is that we are powerless and will do nothing. We are NOT powerless and we will NOT do nothing! Soon, with our help, the warm sun will rise. :)