DREAMS AND PROBLEMS
(written in October, 2005)
It’s astonishing to realize the simple truth that all my supposed “problems” are entirely mental. What got me thinking about this was a series of scary dreams last night. All night, it seems, I tossed around in the midst of perfectly frightening nightmares. Life seemed, in these dreams, to be a place of impending disaster, with one ghastly adversary after another threatening me. However, when I awoke, it didn’t take me long to realize that it was all just a dream – that nothing bad had happened and my life was still safe and secure. This realization is what led me to think about all the situations that I call “my problems” (not that I have that many – just the average bundle that most of us have). The fact is that, when I search hard for the source of any of these alleged crises, I always end up at my own thoughts. Any problem I’ve ever had is a problem because I’m thinking of it as a problem. Every anxiety, fear, or worry doesn’t exist “out there” in some object or person or situation, but always and only in my thinking. There’s no doubt that my dreams last night seemed absolutely real. In the midst of them, I thought surely I was going to get sick, be hurt, get lost, be late for an important appointment, or even die. But I awoke, and lo, the problems vanished as swiftly as a thought does. This is precisely what can happen with every so-called problem that appears to threaten me. In the future, there’s no doubt that I will be faced with many distasteful situations -- possibly including illness, financial disasters, or personal tragedies -- and I certainly need to deal with them directly, but simply as events that are occurring, not as problems. All I need to do is wake up to the real world. I need to face reality and see that “problems”, no matter how severe, last only as long as the thought of them does.