What is a problem? A quick look in a dictionary showed it is a noun that means, “a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.”
There are two key points in this definition that I want to discuss:
- the situation is unwelcome.
- the situation needs to be fixed (i.e. dealt with or overcome).
Really, the only problem we ever have is that life is not going the way we think it should. Again, what is in life is not welcome and we think it should be otherwise and so needs to be fixed.
If you think what-is needs to be fixed, but this is something not under your complete control…then this is a recipe for unhappiness. You are not really happy until it is fixed, but you may not have the power to fix it.
The awakened do not need anything to change to be happy. The need and attachment is not there. There may be a desire to change the situation, but whether it changes or does not change has no impact on their happiness.
The awakened neither try to hold on to the transitory, nor do they try to repel what is just ahead or already present. So situations are never unwelcome, because that is the mindset of someone who resists or tries to deny reality (i.e. what is). The awakened accept what is as it is for as long as it is. Not that he or she could not make some efforts to change the situation, but it comes from first accepting what is.
So I am not suggesting merely to accept problems and not identify with them as a way to cope with problems. If you really dive into it, the problems themselves are fictions of the mind. We make our own problems. In reality, there just is what is.
For example, several years ago…at the start of the 2008 recession…I was laid off from my job. This was not uncommon. My profession is corporate recruiting, so when companies stop hiring they also let go of most of their recruiters. While I was unemployed, I also had a mortgage payment and other bills.
Many people would see this as a problem. They might be very unhappy. There might be fear, anxiety, and worry about the future and paying the bills. They may feel less in some way for being unemployed and therefore ashamed. They may think to themselves often, “this situation should not be and I need to fix it as soon as possible.” The longer it is not fixed…the more unhappy they become.
My experience of unemployment was very different. I found myself unemployed and I thought let’s see if I can get work. I did get a short three month recruiting contract, but then was unemployed again. At recruiting association meetings and networking events, I found most of my peers were laid off or were given notice of their jobs ending. So now I knew this recession was going to be bad…a couple years I estimated.
I continued to apply to every corporate recruiting position I could find, but I decided that I should start my own video production business (part-time). It might be successful and pay the bills, but at a minimum it would fill the hole on my resume that I was fairly certain would form without this experience. I paid several hundred dollars for a video camera and set up the business. I did some pro bono video production gigs and eventually got a few paid gigs.
Weeks turned into months, and I was barely getting by on my unemployment checks…and I was not seeing much profit from my side business. I had moved in with my girlfriend and realized I could not longer make mortgage payments on my own property. So I lost my home due to foreclosure. Luckily, I still had a roof over my head living with my (then) fiance.
We eventually got married, and I continued to look for corporate recruiting positions and working part-time as a video producer (making video testimonials and about us videos for small companies). A year had passed since becoming unemployed, and it was now the longest I had ever been without work (by quite a margin).
Six more months passed and then I got a letter from the state saying this was my last month of being eligible for unemployment. I continued looking for corporate recruiting work and networking at professional associations. I continued to do everything I could to find work in my profession. Then while I was at a professional association, I met someone who was looking for a recruiter for a contract. She was also working on using social media and video for recruiting. Because I had a video production background, she thought I was a good fit for the job. A few weeks later, just as I received my last unemployment check, I started a new contract recruiting position.
I was there for four months, and by that time the recruiting industry was picking up and companies were starting to hire again (and so expanding their recruiting staff). I got another three month contract with another company. Then I got a full-time, permanent position with another company and have been there ever since.
This was quite a ride being unemployed for over a year and a half. At no point did I see any of this as a problem. Losing my condo was not a problem. I welcomed each new life event as it presented itself. I was in control of so little of what was going on (and I knew it). I went with the current of the river instead of fighting it.
If I made being unemployed and being without a job a problem, could I have been happy for a year and a half while I was in that situation? If I made losing my condo a problem (the foreclosure process takes months), could I have been happy during that time? The awakened fully accept the situations they are in. Fighting reality is a losing battle…instead you accept and go with it (influencing changes where you can). The awakened do not make problems of the things that happen in life.
It was not a matter of accepting the problems or not identifying with the problems…it was that my view (of the world) would not let me see this as a problem. And so, I did not have to accept any suffering or try not to identify with any suffering…suffering simply did not arise.