Dealing with Problems from a Zen Perspective


Change our thinking, we change our world

We often judge as too simplistic the idea that if we “change our thinking, we change our world,” yet this simple and fundamental truth is the foundation of most philosophies and spiritual paths. Although it sometimes becomes obscured beneath layers of religious narrative, superstition, and mythos, it can even be found at the core of the less spiritually developed paths of the Abrahamic religions.

We may initially encounter resistance to the idea that our suffering and problems can be relinquished at will because it’s always easier to blame those experiences on external phenomena. Taking responsibility for what is going on in our lives is a radical approach, and forces us to engage a level of maturity seldom found in our spiritual lives. We’ve also been indoctrinated into the belief that these perceived problems are integrally part of our experience, and must, therefore, be part of who and what we are, that we lose control of our perspective.

Right now, you may be shaking your head, convinced that your problems are far too complicated to resolve by simply changing your perspective and changing your mind. Consider, however, that until you change your mind until you allow a shift of perspective the solution may not become apparent to you. Once we allow ourselves to view the experiences without judgment as “good” or “bad”, we don’t allow ourselves to function from the source and summit of our true nature that which some call the Buddha Mind or the Christ Consciousness the place of ultimate control over our perceived reality, which I often refer to as Zen Mind or Creative Intelligence.

Right this moment, there are unimaginably difficult circumstances going on within my own personal experience. I am quite aware of how easy it would be for most people (including myself) to just “give up,” given the severity of these circumstances and conditions. And it would be so easy to place the blame on external persons, institutions, events, and other phenomena.

But the truth is that these experiences are nothing more than impermanent circumstances, arising out of the interconnected and interdependent causes and conditions that exist all around me. They don’t really affect me they affect my perception. They are teachers, challenging me to adapt to find a new course to learn to go where I might be uncomfortable being.

Nothing that is happening in your life right now is more powerful than you.

No gods, demons, angels, spells or blessings can be found anywhere that does not originate in your mind and your heart. You control that which you created. If you are faced with a challenge, shift your perspective to see what you might be able to learn from the challenge, and then stop trying to avoid it! Move toward the problem, through the crisis, and you will, I promise, come through the other side of that circumstance the victor.

When painful emotions arise in our mind, or uncertain conditions appear in our experiences, there is no need to panic; we can patiently accept them, experience them, and investigate their origins. When we do this, we discover that circumstances or other people have no power to make us feel bad; the most they can do is trigger the potentials for painful reactions or emotions that already exist within our own minds. By patiently accepting painful feelings and experiences without clinging to them, the negative karmic potentials from which they arose are purified, and we shall never have to experience that kind of situation again.

So while it’s a little unsettling to think that all of what we’ve been taught about the nature of our experience may have been wrong, it can be equally comforting to know there is another way of seeing these difficult situations, and to take back the control, the power and the potential that is inherently ours. Doing so, I believe, will always result in solutions unfolding in perfect order for each of us.

I don’t ask you to believe me, or anyone else. I encourage you to put this, and all spiritual and philosophical teachings to the test, using reasoning and science, and discarding the need for superstition, fear and subjugation, discover the truth that makes itself known from within.

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