I am going to start this article with an assertion that many people do not like to hear: all your problems are created by yourself in your own mind.
Long ago, when human beings were an infant species, it was necessary for us to be able to make quick, almost instant judgements. It was important to very quickly differentiate between, say, a lovely fluffy bunny wabbit and a big hungry daddy lion. Our survival depended upon it.
Wind forward a few thousand years and this important survival mechanism has become the bane of our lives. The problem is, our minds habuitually and almost instantly judge everything as either good or bad. As we are very rarely faced with life or death decisions like the one described above, almost all of this judgement is totally unnecessary. Yet we continue to judge everything, and a lot of the time we are not even conscious of our judgements. They happen so habitually and so quickly that all we notice is the emotion which comes to us as a result of the judgement.
As we make our way through our day, things happen. The brain automatically categorises these things as either good or bad. The things that we categorise as bad become our problems. But consider the possibility that we can remove all problems simply by stopping the categorization.
Anyone who has had any success with meditation will have a sense of what it feels like when we stop listening to our thoughts for a short while. There is a deep sense of peace, joy and serenity because for a brief period we are no longer listening to the mind as it invents one problem after another. A similar sense of joy can be felt when engaging in any activity which causes us to refrain from thinking for a while. Examples include dancing, listening to great music, making love, singing or playing a sport we greatly enjoy. Those activities feel great because we stop thinking, we stop judging and we stop fabricating problems.
'That's all very well,' I hear you say. 'But I've got my life to get on with. I can't spend all day meditating, dancing and making love. More's the pity. I need to think to do my job, to plan my life, to look after my kids and my home.' Yes you do! You do need to think, but you do not need to judge everything and everyone as either good or bad. The problem is that our minds tend to do this habitually, so how can we stop it?
I propose a radical technique, which is to allow the mind to do its judging, for that is what it likes to do, but to introduce a third choice into the equation. The third choice I propose is 'hatstand'. Normally we place things somewhere along a spectrum between good and bad. I propose that instead of a linear spectrum, we have a triangle like the one pictured below.
Instead of judging whether events that happen in our lives are good or bad, we should instead judge whether they are good, bad or hatstand.
'That's ridiculous, Pete! You've really lost it this week. 'Hatstand' isn't even an adjective!' I hear you say.
You are right, it is ridiculous. But so is judging everything as good or bad ridiculous. Let's take an example. It is raining. Deciding whether this is good or bad is just as ridiculous as deciding whether it is hatstand. Outside of our minds it is none of those things. It is just raining. There is absolutely no need to judge this as anything. Yet many of us habitually judge it as bad and cause ourselves completely unnecessary misery in the process. This is true of almost all judgements we make. None of them are necessary.
There are some things that most people are cultutrally conditioned to automatically think of as bad. Without any conscious thought at all, we move straight into misery after an automatic judgement. A loved one dies. Our house has been burgled. We lose our job. We do not stop for a minute to consider that we do not have to judge these situations. If we did, if we just accepted them for what they are rather than attach a good or bad label to them, then we would be free of the suffering that judgement causes and could much more effectively carry on with our lives. We don't have to pretend these things have not happened. We just have to stop judging them as bad and calling them problems.
I have deliberately chosen an absurd third option to highlight the absurdity of our habitual judgement. Maybe if we keep the third option in mind, it can shake up our habitual thought patterns and make us more aware of how we invent all our problems and cause all our suffering oursleves.
"This is what enlightenment is all about - a deep understanding that there is no problem. Then, with no problem to solve, what will you do? Immediately you start living. You will eat, you will sleep, you will love, you will work, you will have a chit-chat, you will sing, you will dance - what else is there to do?" - Osho
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