In this letter, I want to discuss “how to solve the Problem of Life.” When people look at a personal growth or spiritual teacher, they often think, “He (or she) really seems to have it together. He’s solved the Problem of Life. I want to be like that.” Such people seem to be happy, serene, unflappable. They don’t seem to be bothered by the things that bother most people. We assume that they must not be facing the same challenges we face.
I want to set something straight, though. Such people — including me — have NOT solved the Problem of Life. Instead, they’ve seen through the whole idea…
…that life is a problem in the first place.
Alan Watts used to put it this way: every parent and every society teaches its new members a game called The Game of Black and White. The main rule of this game is that White Must Win. So, we divide the world into appropriate and inappropriate, desirable and undesirable, good and evil, okay and not okay. What goes into each pile varies from person to person. And, one person’s desirable pile is often another’s undesirable pile.
This should alert you to the fact that what goes into each pile is arbitrary. This is because nothing is intrinsically good or bad, desirable or undesirable, appropriate or inappropriate. We add these meanings and qualities to people, things, and events from the outside. Then, we resist the bad, the undesirable, the inappropriate, hoping that the good, the desirable, the appropriate (what I’ve called White) will win.
As long as you’re alive, there’s no way out of this game. You have to play at least a little bit. But the harder you play, you more you suffer. Why? Because when you resist what you think is Black, that resistance creates suffering. Resistance IS suffering. Or, you could say that your attachment to White winning creates suffering,
But here’s the problem. First, what you think is White or Black, as I have said, is arbitrary. It may not seem arbitrary at all, however. A really serious player of the Game of Black and White totally convinces himself that White is, without a doubt, good and desirable, and that Black is, without a doubt, bad and undesirable. The truth, of course, is that good and bad are ways of thinking about things.
Good and bad are ideas.
Not only that — and this is the key point — in all pairs of opposites: good/bad, here/there, up/down, me/not me, and all the rest — each side of the polarity depends on the other. Anything you think is good is good only in relation to something you think is bad. Whatever is up is up in relation to something that’s down. You can’t have good without bad, or here without there, or up without down. Trying to get rid of all the bad, for instance, just isn’t going to happen, any more than you could get rid of selling without also getting rid of buying.
You can reduce the amount of “bad” in your life by becoming more conscious, but you’ll never get rid of it entirely. In other words, you’re always going to have problems, no matter what you do. Whether you’re a billionaire, a movie star, a Zen master, or just plain you, you’ll have what people commonly think of as “problems.” Someone once ran into actor Tom Hanks in an elevator and asked him, “What’s it like at the top of the heap?” His answer:
“Wherever you are on the heap, it’s one thing after another.”
A Zen master, then, isn’t unflappable and serene because he’s figured out how to eliminate all the problems of being human. He’s unflappable because he’s stopped looking at life as a problem in the first place. He may play the Game of Black and White a little bit — my friend Zen master Genpo Roshi says, “I’m more attached to my children than to other people’s children” — but he doesn’t resist life.
The reactions people have to what they think is “wrong,” or “bad,” are almost always automatic reactions. Though you have to play at least a light version of the Game of Black and White, if you are aware enough you can actually choose what little suffering comes your way, rather than unconsciously creating more of it
If I buy a car, I know it will have problems. It will need repairs. It will go down in value and eventually wear out. I could get in an accident and wreck the car. I consciously enter into a relationship with the car, knowing that these are typical car problems. I do what I can to prevent them, but if they happen, I deal with it. If I react to these problems so strongly that I create additional suffering for myself…
…it’s my own fault — no one else’s.
If you play a hard, serious, unconscious version of the Game of Black and White, you will automatically react with negative feelings when the problems of life arise (which they will). Then you have to experience the problem and your reaction to it. You can play a light version or a serious version. It’s a choice — but to choose, you have to be aware. The longer you use Holosync, the more you see through this game. Your awareness expands, and it becomes more difficult to live on autopilot, to live unconsciously.
In your Game of Black and White, what constitutes “Black”? Do you really have to resist these things so much? If something “goes wrong,” deal with it, but do you need to be in huge resistance to it also? If you let life be what it is, at least in terms of your emotional reaction, you’ll not only save yourself a lot of stress and suffering, you’ll also be…
…more effective in doing whatever needs to be done.
This is what I mean when I say that Holosync raises your threshold higher. When you reach your threshold, you begin to play a serious Game of Black and White — and resist whatever is happening. Your threshold goes up when you use Holosync because your awareness expands, and you begin to see how silly it is to be in resistance to “what is.”
Here’s my suggestion. Make a list of what you consider to be “Black.” Then realize that if any of these things happen, you don’t have to go off the deep end. You can if you want to, but there’s no benefit to it. Instead, just do what needs to be done.
Those things you’re most convinced are really, truly, seriously bad are what some call your Shadow — aspects of yourself that you have repressed. Because they are disowned, they come out in a dysfunctional way. When you see them in others, they strongly affect you emotionally. Others see these things, too, but because they haven’t repressed them…
…they aren’t grabbed by them in the same way.
You may see poverty, for instance, and feel angry at those you think are responsible. Someone else sees the same poverty, and feels compassion for the person, but isn’t as emotionally upset by it. This is a sign that the poverty represents, in some way, a disowned part of you. It could be that you are afraid of being poor, it could be that you feel guilty about opportunities you’ve had that this person did not have. In some way, though, there is shadow material involved.
Centerpointe’s success has allowed me to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities that help people out of poverty. When I see poverty, I’m moved to act. But I’m not suffering over it, nor am I angry about it. I know that poverty and riches are part of life, and always will be. And, I’ve learned that emotionally fighting against what is, is futile — and unproductive. Instead, I take positive action. When I find myself emotionally bothered by something, I ask myself:
“What shadow part of me is this triggering?”
So when you find yourself triggered by your children, your spouse, your boss, your situation, random events, or anything, you’ve made something “wrong.” You can do this if you want, but I’m suggesting that you might be better off to realize that what’s happening is part of life. Then get busy doing what needs to be done.
Look inside and see if you can determine what disowned part of yourself you might be seeing in the other person or situation. Can you own this shadow aspect of yourself? Can you allow yourself to be human enough to have this supposedly “wrong” part?
If you can, something very interesting will happen. First of all, suffering drops to close to zero. Second, by re-owning a disowned part of yourself, that part stops appearing in a dysfunctional way. If you’re angry, and you see angry people everywhere, and you re-own that disowned anger, you’ll wonder where all those angry people went, because you’ll stop attracting so many of them. What’s more, when you do meet one, they won’t trigger you. In fact…
…you’ll feel compassion for them.
And, when you are using Holosync or simply meditate regularly, and something uncomfortable comes up, you won’t make it “wrong.” You won’t resist it. And, because you aren’t resisting it, it won’t hang around for days, weeks, or months. You’ll work through it, often in moments, and move on to something much more pleasant.
I hope you will deeply consider what I’ve shared here. This is one of THE most fundamental secrets of happiness and inner peace. Every highly conscious person I know (and I know a few), meets life in this way. You can, too. Once you do, you become an amazing example of a fully integrated human being.