Updated: Sep 10
is the world the cause of my problems?
The wisest teachers consistently remind us that the source of all suffering, all fear & painful confusion, arises within. That our minds project these troubles onto the world as a means of deflecting, coping, & avoiding the humbling (and deeply transformative) truth that all of our emotional pain originates within us. Trying to end our suffering by changing the world is a futile game of whack-a-mole. Only through inner transformation does suffering end.
Honesty is important. We may recognize the enlightened perspective as true. But if we pretend to believe the enlightened perspective, while still holding onto grievances with the world, then we're just perfuming our suffering with wise words & high concepts, never addressing the tangled mess generating the pain & confusion.
When I approach the world reactively & cynically, I see a society spiraling in confusion, I see a species hell-bent on conquest & destruction, and I see a world incapable of stopping the tragic downfall. In short, I see vice, tragedy, & chaos.
In my sanity, I remember that the evil & hurtful acts of others stem from their mental projection of inner confusion onto the world. And, most pivotally, I remember that the only reason this seems like a problem to me is because I am buying into my projections too, just like all those other folks I'm tempted to condemn, blame, pity, or otherwise distance myself from. We hurt others only because we're confused & hurt inside. And we interpret the attacks of others as threats only because we're confused & hurt inside. All suffering is inside-out. Our ego-deluded minds reframe it as outside-in. When we remember the truth, we can approach suffering skillfully. When we're stuck in a victim-hero-villain mindset, we only add to the drama.
The good news - we can let all of it, even the wisest thinking, go.
The heart beats.
The breath flows.
The body feels.
The senses perceive.
The more we can surrender into these experiences, the less entangled we get in the projection game, and the better we become at responding to suffering skillfully, rather than throwing more fuel onto the fire. This shift in focus requires commitment, discipline, & awareness. It takes all your courage, & it teaches you new levels of humility. The rewards are clarity & peace. Which we come to realize are really one-and-the-same. When we're fully clear, we're at peace. When we're fully at peace, we're clear.
Byron Katie put it masterfully:
There's only one person out of order in the whole world: you. That's good news, because it leaves only one person to change. How convenient!