“Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.”
~ Erich Fromm
“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”
~ Erich Fromm
“The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. It results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another.”
~ Dalai Lama
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.”
~ Dalai Lama
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Freedom from the desire for an answer
is essential to the understanding of a problem.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“If we can really understand the problem,
the answer will come out of it, because
the answer is not separate from the problem.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“The quest is in the question.
The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Life is not a problem to be solved,
but a reality to be experienced.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard
What causes problems?
And how can we solve them?
Ignorance spawns them;
Intelligence solves them;
Wisdom averts them;
Truth transcends them.
Ron’s audio recitation of “Problems?”:
Ron’s Comments about seeing and solving “Problems”
As sentient beings on planet Earth, we share innate yearning for uninterrupted happiness. But there aren’t yet utopian Earthly societies inhabited by perfectly happy people without problems.
Thus, individually and societally, all humans inevitably experience problems and limitations which interfere with their happiness – no matter who we are or how we are identified or categorized.
Though – like snowflakes – each of us is physically unique with a unique story and history, we are all inextricably interconnected and interdependent – existentially sharing a common spiritual Self identity and common cosmic matrix.
Problems preclude lasting happiness
So solving our societal and interpersonal problems is crucial to fulfillment of our inborn wish for lasting happiness. And just as curing disease normally requires diagnosis of its cause, to solve Earthly problems we need to see their source.
To help us “diagnose” our problems I have posted the foregoing quotations and enigmatic sutra poem – written many years ago – about seeing, solving and transcending “problems”.
Seeing and solving psychological problems
This poem mainly addresses mental – rather than physical – “problems”, since physical pain is inevitable while mental suffering is optional.
As to such psychological problems, His Holiness the Dalai Lama teaches that
“The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion” because “the need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence;” and because without “love and compassion . . .humanity cannot survive”.
Psychological problems and suffering inevitably arise when we are ignorant of our true spiritual self-identity – which is LOVE – but futilely seek happiness from ephemeral worldly satisfactions. So the poem identifies “ignorance” as the source of “problems”.
Thus Rumi tells us:
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”
Mental Problems are Ego Problems
Those mental ‘barriers’ which we have ‘built within’ all arise from ego, to which Buddhist teachings often refer as ‘self-cherishing thought’.
Through ego we mistakenly mentally self identify as entities separate from the Whole – as separate perceivers of a supposedly objective world.
But this is an unreal ego illusion – samsara. And our self-cherishing beliefs and behaviors seeking psychological self-preservation and protection of that ego illusion of separateness are ultimately futile.
What never was can never be preserved.
To promote lasting happiness and compassion, most spiritual practice has been aimed for millennia at transcending illusionary ego identity. For example this intention has been mentioned in ancient Vedic and Taoist texts such as Rig Veda and Tao Te Ching, as well as in Buddhist scriptures:
Ego is the biggest enemy of humans. ”
~ Rig Veda
“The ego is a monkey catapulting through the jungle: Totally fascinated by the realm of the senses, it swings from one desire to the next, one conflict to the next, one self-centered idea to the next. If you threaten it, it actually fears for its life. Let this monkey go. Let the senses go. Let desires go. Let conflicts go. Let ideas go. Let the fiction of life and death go. Just remain in the center, watching. And then forget that you are there.”
~ Lao Tzu
“The foundation of the Buddha’s teachings lies in compassion, and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.”
~ Dalai Lama
Thus, according to perennial spiritual teachings, ego must be recognized, renounced and transcended.
No thought, no ego.
Ultimate overcoming of ego happens only when thought ceases NOW and Universal Intelligence which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself and as itself, and is not mentally divided and projected.
Happiness grows as ego goes
Only very rare ‘awakened’ Buddha-like beings have completed the metamorphosis from Humanity to Infinite Intelligence – from human consciousness to superconsciousness. So the overwhelmingly vast majority of Humankind are incarnate because we are limited by illusionary ego entity-identity, and we inevitably suffer “problems” in space/time causality/duality.
But all of us can gradually evolve and achieve ever growing happiness by seeing and solving our ego problems from ever elevated mental states of consciousness, subtler than those which created them.
Initially we may use our instinctive intelligence to “diagnose” and abandon the beliefs and behaviors causing our experience of such problems. Later, with wisdom we may avert problems by observing mistakes of others and not emulating such mistakes.
We can overcome our suffering from earthly ‘problems’ and experience ever growing happiness, compassion and fulfillment of our deepest aspirations by gradually recognizing, renouncing and transcending egoic beliefs and behaviors.
And so may it be!