There Is Only One Problem

What we fear most is not conflict, but the absence of conflict. We fear the singularity of wholeness, where duality disappears.

Therefor, we seek conflict. Conflict and duality are useful distractions, allowing us to avoid the fundamental reality of our solitude.

Conflict is imagined: it is a product of our thoughts. Then we project this inner conflict into the world. We spend our energy passionately struggling to resolve it, but the apparent conflict is only the ghost of thought - which explains why everyone sees the conflict differently. In actuality, the conflict isn't really out "there." It is in the mind.

The world presents us with situations, not conflicts. Every is illuminated by the stillness of Presence. Situations are always manageable, because they arise one at a time, in the present moment. A "problem" is a situation perceived through the haze of thinking, which always carries images of the past, distorting and catastrophizing the situation.

Conflict "out there" in the world is not the fundamental problem of our existence. The fundamental problem of our existence is our own mind.

Do we really believe that our fundamental problem is an economic conflict between capitalism and the working class? A political conflict between patriarchy and the feminine? A cultural conflict between indigenous tribes and the Western state? A moral conflict between good and evil? A metaphysical conflict between spirit and matter?

All such dualities are superficial mental constructs, projected onto the world by thought. And by this constant conflicted thinking we distract ourselves, so that we never have to stare into the abyss of our real predicament, which is our aloneness.

The fundamental problem is that there is no conflict, no duality to resolve, no power against which we must contend, and nothing to be reformed, because there is no other. I alone Am.

It is said that men and women are essentially social. This illusion comes from an incomplete analysis of our experience. In fact, our life begins and ends in solitude. We were not born with a partner, and we were not born as a community. We will not die with a partner, and we will not die as a community. We were born alone. We will die alone. This is the truth. Human life is a parenthesis in eternal solitude.

Have you dared to confront your essential aloneness? Do you really want to postpone this affair until the moment of your death?

The real solution to our predicament is simple, but not easy. We must embrace the truth of our aloneness, unconditionally.

I say this to each and every one: You are the Self alone. No matter who else you encounter, your experience of the other arises in you, through you, as you. What you experience in the world appears as multiplicity, but is one, for it all arises in the seamless continuum of your own awareness. And no matter how hard you try to distract yourself by imagining conflict, you will never escape your all-pervading solitude.

You are majestically alone. Your task is to transform this aloneness into all-oneness.  This is your real vocation. The rest is theater. When you have done this work of transformation, you will joyfully embrace every conflict and every other as your own Self.

Please ask yourself, "If I surrendered to my essential and primordial aloneness, would I survive? If I saw the entire world with all its conflicts arising in myself, through myself, as myself, what would I do? Would my life have any edges?"

If this at first sound like a view that is antithetical to the "Western tradition," just remember the first and most fundamental commandment of the Judeo-Christian heritage: "Love thy neighbor as thy Self." Seen in its true depth, this commandment implies unity-consciousness. I love the other as my Self because the other is my Self.

We might also remember the final prayer of Jesus, the night before he died (John 17: 21): "Father, I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in me and I am in you."

And I close with the words of a modern master: "Conflict is the nature of the world; comfort is the nature of the Self. In the midst of conflict, find the comfort. Trying to end conflict prolongs it. The moment you agree to be with the conflict, the conflict disappears. Face the conflict by resting in the comfort of the Self." 
~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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